Los Angeles born and bred, emcee/producer Evidence has been a dogged champion of the boom-bap since back when doing so made you something of a Westside anomaly. With a resume boasting enviable purist hip-hop credentials (co-founding member of Dilated Peoples, possessor of an acclaimed solo career, longtime friend and collaborator with the likes of the like-minded DJ Premier and Alchemist etc.) it should come as little surprise that Ev has outlasted so many of his colleagues from rap's late '90s underground explosion. Or that he was puttin' in work on Kanye West's debut (co-producing The College Dropout's "Last Call") long before Yeezy was inviting cats to Hawaii, or hanging in Oz with Russell Crowe. With his latest excellent solo endeavor, Cats & Dogs, dropping September 27th via Rhymesayers it was only right that we hit up The Weatherman for a list of his favorite sample flips. The forecast: impassioned sonic insights 'bout to rain on ya. Aight!
CLICK THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE TO CHECK OUT EVIDENCE'S FAVORITE SAMPLE FLIPS
1. The Game ft. Ludacris - "Ya Heard" (2008, Geffen)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Newcleus - "Jam On It" (Sunnyview, 1984)
Evidence: "Jam On It" is the song that made me want to be involved in the hip-hop culture, period. I went to the boardwalk or Santa Monica Pier – too young to remember which one it was – saw people dancing, doing some other shit on fuckin’ cardboard or linoleum, a whole crowd of people around it, to that shit. To "Jam On It" by Newcleus. I made my mom buy me the album, and I swear I never made it past that song on the album. I never listened to anything else on that record, I just kept rewinding that song over and over.
So that song is super holy to me, sacred. So the thought of [a producer] flipping that shit to me is probably like what a lot of musicians feel like when they hear somebody else flipping their shit. The thought of it is wack: aw, that shit sucks. But when I heard how Nottz flipped that shit? It fucked my head up. He just sliced it and diced it and killed it on a whole other level. As a producer the jealousy factor just shot through the roof. I was like, how did I not think of this? And even if I did think of it I wouldn’t have been able to do it like that. So just bow down.
2. Dilated Peoples - "Worst Comes To Worst" (ABB, 2001)
SAMPLE SOURCE: William Bell - "I Forgot To Be Your Lover" (Stax, 1968)
Evidence: I’m just gonna with one of our own, fuck it. This loop had been [used] before. If I’m not mistaken Killer Priest used it. And I know shortly after Ludacris used it. But I just think the way Alchemist did it just killed everyone with simplicity. Sometimes you gotta do more, and this is the example of less. He made it a 3-bar loop. So it’s 1-2-3-4, 2-2-3-4, 3-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4… and with most rap [a loop is an even number of] bars. The fact that [the beat] turned around in a weird place and we wrote our raps to it like that made it so that when other people freestyled to it on the radio they always sounded fucked up to it. Y’all ain’t even realizing it’s a 3-bar loop, it’s not even a 4-bar loop. You can’t do a regular rap on "Worst Comes To Worst" that you wrote to something else because it turns over in a funny place and it ends up sounding weird. Now the magic of that is [the verse] does end in 12-bars because 3-bars enough times does equal 12. So you can finish on time, but in the middle it’s fucked up. So people who never realized that, that’s dope because the beat [still sounds] seamless. And the people who did realize it I think know the genius of what [Alchemist] did.
3. Kanye West ft. T-Pain - "Good Life" (Roc-A-Fella, 2007)
PRODUCERS: Kanye West, DJ Toomp
SAMPLE SOURCE: Michael Jackson - "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" (Epic, 1982)
Evidence: [He used the vocal portion of "P.Y.T."] and there’s a music chop in there too. It’s still hard to figure out [exactly what they did with the sample]. And that’s the beauty of it. He just fuckin’ nailed it, man. There’s a fine line between keeping it gutter and knowing how to take it over the top. And [Kanye] is one of those people who I think the blueprint of what he does is so gutter and so hip-hop and so immersed in him. Yet he's hung around with a lot of these polished people so he’s one of the few [producers] who knows how to take a little fucking chop like that and really take it to the next level.
4. Jeru the Damaja - 'My Mind Spray" (Payday, 1994)
PRODUCER: DJ Premier
SAMPLE SOURCE: Bob James - "Nautilus" (CTI, 1974)
Evidence: "Nautilus" has been [used many times] before. But at that point the way Premier flipped it with the drums attached to it – the sound of the knock, Jeru’s rhymes. Ahhh, it was like fuckin’ perfection to me: whatever pitch he put the loop in, the speed of the record he chose it to be. Premier’s chops are just gutter. I don’t know… that shit was like "Beats to the Rhyme" all over again for me. But in a modified, sophisticated, stand up, straight kind of version, and just really retarded. “Thunder on your dome with no help from Mad Max/ Lyrics like hype tattoos go over the dope tracks.” It’s like [Jeru] had no choice but to rhyme fresh over that. There was no way around it.
5. The Beatnuts - "Watch Out Now" (Relativity, 1999)
PRODUCER: The Beatnuts
SAMPLE SOURCE: Enoch Light - "Hijack" (Project 3, 1975)
Evidence: That shit is just so kooky to me. But then with the drums and the way they freaked it - and then Psycho Les wildin' out, dumbin' and Juju with the more straight flow... I don’t know. That shit was like a perfect rap song. It sits up there with all the good ones. It’s just timeless. Jennifer Lopez fuckin’ jacked it too. [laughs]
6. A Tribe Called Quest - "Lyrics To Go" (Jive, 1993)
PRODUCER: A Tribe Called Quest
SAMPLE SOURCE: Minnie Riperton - "Inside My Love" (Epic, 1975)
Evidence: After seeing that Tribe Called Quest documentary, that shit fucked me up. [In the film] not only does Q-Tip show where he took [the Minnie Riperton sample] from, they show you the performance of her singing it. (That was really clever editing by whoever did that part in the movie.) Then they show you how he took that piece [of the song] and looped it. It’s basically her singing this super high note. And he just copped that one piece. So that little high string sound that’s throughout the whole song - that’s not a string. I always that it was a string. It’s her voice. It’s like a continual sound throughout the whole shit. I love tracks like that - that always have some sort of string drama throughout the whole shit. That’s why I love Premier’s stuff so much. And that shit is just magic. Q-Tip is one of the best producers ever in the history in hip-hop. It just got masked by [the credits always] saying “Produced by A Tribe Called Quest.” I really thought other people were doing a lot of it, Ali Shaheed was doing it. Maybe he was. But watching the movie you find out that Q-Tip did most of that shit. He’s gotta be one of the best ever.
7. EPMD - "You Gots to Chill" (Fresh, 1988)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Zapp - "More Bounce to the Ounce" (Warner Bros. 1980)
Evidence: "More Bounce to the Motherfuckin’ Ounce." That was just the best [flip] to me out of everyone who did it. I don’t know what was going on. It’s very simple. It could have been the combination of the rhymes, the mix, or whatever magic dust was sprinkled on the reel to reel, I don’t know. But it’s just like that shit just plays and plays and plays to me. And I didn’t grow up on Parliament-Funkadelic. I didn’t grow up on Roger. I didn’t grow up on a lot of that stuff. It wasn’t like in my genetic code. I found it later. Forgive me for saying it because I was young – but that’s how I kinda like got introduced to that shit - through the samples. I mean in '88 I was fuckin’ eleven. [EPMD] being from the fuckin' East rapping over that shit - that was big in the West. Throw that on, you rock.
8. Brand Nubian - "Slow Down" (Elektra, 1990)
PRODUCER: Brand Nubian
SAMPLE SOURCE: Edie Brickell & New Bohemians - "What I Am" (Geffen, 1988)
Evidence: That was one of the first times I remember someone taking a sample and rapping around the words of it. "What I am is what I am/ Well, what you are is a stunt, man/ You’re on a hunt…" They weren’t just using it, they were working around it. And for that [Edie Brickell] song to be so big and for them to just flip it like it wasn’t shit - basically that was what hip-hop was. You find the fuckin' break you like and you spin the good part back and forth on two records and the party rocks. And that’s what they were doin’. They found some shit that was popular, put it on two turntables so to speak [metaphorically], and took the shit back and forth. Even though there was an actual beat made that’s what it represented to me.
9. Jay-Z - "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" (Roc-A-Fella, 1998)
PRODUCER: 45 King
SAMPLE SOURCE: Annie, Original Cast - "It's the Hard-Knock Life" (Columbia, 1977)
Evidence: Talk about [making] something out of nothin’. It’s some Annie shit. Put drums to Annie and hip-hop comes alive. And then you put Jay-Z on top of it and it’s just a wrap. DJs always make the best beats because they understand the rhythm, what moves people and how drums affect certain settings. 45 King knew where to put the drums, and where not to. Those blank spaces are everything. He could have easily put a double time hi-hat to that shit, and synths, and ill bass, and went battle crazy and it would have been a whole different animal. Instead it’s made by somebody who’s from the essence of what the shit was created on and knew how not to overcook a meal. Even though I know the track wasn’t originally intended for Jay-Z (it’s a Kid Capri record or whatever), he could have went back and dressed it up. It’s hard when you hear that Jay-Z is taking your song to not instinctively want it to do more. It’s like human nature. "I gotta put a crash on here. Maybe we should have a live guitar player come play..." It’s like you hear Jay-Z, you think more, more. It takes somebody with discipline, understanding and all that shit to say, "Nah, this is how I’m cooking this meal. You fuck with it or you don’t."
10. Shyne ft. Barringto Levy - "Bad Boyz" (Bad Boy, 2000)
PRODUCER: EZ Elpee
SAMPLE SOURCE: Grace Jones - "Nightclubbing" (Island, 1981)
Evidence: That’s the perfect hip-hop beat. Ain’t fuck shit wrong with that. Nothin’. That beat is fuckin’ perfect. I remember Babu showing me the loop. I didn’t even know what it is. He was like, "That’s Grace Jones flipped." I was like, "Oh, you fuckin’ kiddin’ me." When I heard it – [the thing that stood out was] the bass, the way the bass is placed. I can’t say much more about it. Bass has always been my weak trait for beats. I normally have other people play it and I chop it up the way I like it. I envy [the bass on this track]. I envy it. In the same way I envy "The Benjamins" I envy it. I’m jealous. Why is it the perfect hip-hop beat? If it was food it would be a dish that’s raw but seared. [laughs] I don’t need meatloaf. I need sushi with a flame on it.