Party Supplies is often referred to as the alias of Justin Nealis – the Q-borough-born producer whose haunting track-work enjoyed a fine showcase earlier this year on Action Bronson’s Blue Chips. But Chips‘ boom-bap excellence – in which original school breaks, NOLA funk, even doo-wop and Franki Valli all get some run through the trusty MPC – is but one facet of PS’ sonic identity. The others are Nealis and formerly-in-the-shadows partner Sean Mann‘s acclaimed remix work and catchy-as-hell electronic-pop creations as Party Supplies, the band. With Nealis singing self-penned compositions like “Guy Friends” and “Dancing On the Sidelines” on some David Byrne/Peter Gabriel/’80s funky white man steez and Mann providing instrumental accompaniment, the contrast with Party Supplies’ beastly rap beats is pretty pronounced – making the range of the pair’s skill set all the more impressive. Recently, Justin took a few moments out from working on the duo’s debut LP for Fool’s Gold (due early next year) to discuss a diverse range of selections that made team PS’ all-time favorite sample flips.
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10 FAVORITE SAMPLE FLIPS
1. The Verve - “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (Virgin/Hut, 1997)
PRODUCERS: Martin “Youth” Glover, The Verve
SAMPLE SOURCE: The Andrew Oldham Orchestra – “The Last Time” (Decca, 1966)
Party Supplies: “Bitter Sweet Symphony” is probably the greatest song ever written. I wasn’t surprised when I heard this was a sample because some things are just too good to be true. The Verve’s lead singer and main contributor, Richard Ashcroft, lifted the sample directly from an orchestral version of the famous Rolling Stones song, “The Last Time.” The orchestral version is nothing like the original. Listen to the Rolling Stones’ version and compare it to the Andrew Oldham version and you’ll surely hear the difference. Richard Ashcroft wrote a beautiful original melody around the strings. The Verve had technically sampled a sample so they were somehow able to negotiate a 50/50 split to use the sample but obviously as the song became popular, the Rolling Stones eventually came around wanting 100% since Keith and Mick were the sole writers of the original “The Last Time.” When Keith was asked about the situation he responded, “I’m out of whack here, this is serious lawyer shit. If The Verve can write a better song, they can keep the money.” Personally I think what Ashcroft did was revolutionary and I think the Verve song is much better than the Stones’ song.
2. Gotye ft. Kimbra - “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Universal, 2012)
PRODUCER: Wally de Backer
SAMPLE SOURCE: Luiz Bonfá – “Seville” (Dot, 1967)
Party Supplies: Upon hearing the static from the source vinyl I instantly knew Wally had sampled something and later discovered he sampled Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfá to make one of the biggest pop songs of our time. He simply looped the first bar of “Seville.” He then wrote a completely original song over that one bar. Sampling is an art we’ve always seen in hip-hop, dance and R&B, but artists like Gotye are raising the bar by using vinyl samples to make top 40 pop/rock music. This is something Sean and I are very interested in because as a band Party Supplies is definitely heading in a similar direction.
3. Rihanna - “Umbrella” (Def Jam, 2007)
PRODUCER: Christopher “Tricky” Stewart
SAMPLE SOURCE: Apple Garageband Stock Loop titled “Vintage Funk Kit 03″ (slightly slowed down)
Party Supplies: I’m listing this as the third greatest sample flip of all-time because it’s probably the first Grammy Award winning song to blatantly sample a drum loop from Garageband. It is listed on Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.” This record further ties in Apple’s massive contribution to modern art but in my opinion may also displays the lack of creativity coming from modern pop producers these days. Or maybe it’s just so creative that we can’t even see how creative it is because its too early to realize. Using Garageband is a smart move on the producers end because all loops from Garageband are royalty free. The fact that Stewart was experimenting with Apple loops when all other producers were overthinking things may be the actual genius here. It apparently also took them 60 seconds to write the first verse which is even more incredible. Whatever the case may be “Umbrella” is a revolutionary record because it gives light to the fact that anybody can potentially make a hit song using Garageband.
4. The Beatles - “Revolution 9” (Apple, 1968)
PRODUCERS:John Lennon, Paul McCartney
SAMPLE SOURCES: Beethoven ‘Choral Fantasy”
Vaughan Williams – “O Clap Your Hands”
The Beatles – “A Day In the Life” (Capitol, 1967)
Party Supplies: On “Revolution 9,” The Beatles flip samples from various historic recordings including “Carnaval” by Schumann, Sibelius and Beethoven. John Lennon reverses a recording of an orchestra tuning its instruments taken directly from the sessions from an earlier Beatles song, “A Day in the Life,” thus sampling themselves. By reversing orchestral music in 1968, The Beatles were obviously raising the bar. The song starts out with a recording of a man saying the number 9 looped over and over. When asked about the song Lennon said, “I just liked the way he said ‘Number 9′ so I made a loop.” Lennon also sampled other tape loops from various EMI archives that he had access to. I think this kind of experimental recording paved the way for modern music and avant-garde sampling techniques. The final mix of “Revolution 9″ apparently includes over 40 different samples including air horns, breaking glass, laughter and gunshots. The Beatles actually may be the first huge pop group to drop air horns and gun shots on a song. At over eight minutes, it’s also the longest Beatles track ever released. A great quote about this song by music writers Robert Christgau and John Piccarella goes, “for eight minutes of an album officially titled ‘The Beatles,’ there were no Beatles.”
5. Action Bronson - "9/24/11" (Fool's Gold, 2012)
PRODUCER: Party Supplies
SAMPLE SOURCE: Dean Martin – “Return To Me” (Capitol, 1958)
Party Supplies: I didn’t wanna have to use a Party Supplies beat for this list but I literally have no choice with this song because it’s personally one of my favorite rap songs regardless of who did the beat. This song happened about half way through the making of Blue Chips and I knew it was an instant classic. Action and I were browsing movie soundtracks and came across this familiar Dean Martin record. Earlier that day I met up with Action for lunch in Little Italy at the San Gennaro festival. That whole scenario probably inspired me to cue up the Donnie Brasco soundtrack and the Bronx Tale soundtrack but nonetheless the day was definitely September 24th. This song is broken up into two phrases, the initial half is melodic and the second half is darker. A great example of Action’s ability to combine consonant and dissonant vocal tones. Working alongside Action is inspiring as a producer because he understands the spontaneity of the recording process. A great album is made over time and nothing is done overnight. Although a classic song can be made in 10 minutes, a body of work that represents who you are may take months and sometimes years. Don Henley once said that the Eagles’ “Heart of the Matter” took him 42 years to write.
6. John Fogerty - “The Old Man Down the Road" (Warner Bros., 1985)
PRODUCER: John Fogerty
SAMPLE SOURCE: Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Run Through the Jungle” (Fantasy, 1970)
Party Supplies: This makes the list because it’s probably the first time in history that an artist got sued for flipping a sample of himself. John Fogerty, lead singer and main contributor in the classic rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, decided to leave his band and start his career as a solo artist. His label demanded that the only way they would free John from his contract was if he’d sign over the rights to CCR’s entire catalog. John and CCR apparently owed eight more albums to the label Fantasy Records. Asylum Records agreed to buy his Fantasy contract for $1 million in exchange for John signing over 100% of the rights to all the CCR albums released prior to him leaving. Doing this allowed John to move forward as an artist but when he made the hit song “The Old Man Down the Road,” Saul Zaentz – owner of Fantasy Records – sued for infringement saying that John’s new song sampled CCR’s “Run Through The Jungle,” In other words, John was getting sued for sampling himself. The lawsuit helped cripple the success of John’s classic 1985 album Centerfield which Sean and I are both huge fans of. In response to Zaentz, John wrote a defamation record against Zaentz called “Zanz Kant Danz.” The judge actually favored John in the initial case but Zaentz counter-sued for slander and they both eventually settled out of court. Note that the initial million dollar buyout from Asylum not only forced to him to sign over the songs but also forced him to sign over the rights to perform the songs – meaning he would have to pay Fantasy Records money every time he wanted to sing one of his songs. John stopped singing and performing his own songs out of protest and this is a perfect example of how sketchy and psychotic the music industry can be at times.
7. Twiztid - "Diemuthafkadie!" (Psychopathic, 1998)
PRODUCER: Twiztid & Scott Sumner
SAMPLE SOURCE: Gentle Giant – “Spooky Boogie” (Capitol, 1978)
Party Supplies: Both Sean and I agree that Gentle Giant is one of the greatest bands to ever do it. Aside from that, this here is a beautiful example of how sampling can ironically bridge the gap between two entirely different acts. 1997 Michigan Horrorcore meets early ’70s sophisticated British progressive rock. Sampling often randomly makes miracles like this happen. Different brains melting together on the world stage. This is Juggalo Rap with a Medieval twist. Medieval Michigan Hatchet Hop. According to wiki, Gentle Giant once said their aim was to “expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular.” What’s ironic here is that ICP and the juggalo movement seem to share a similar genius vision. Gentle Giant doesn’t seem to mind the hatchet affiliation or maybe the publisher doesn’t care where the music ends up as long as they pay. Nonetheless, this is a great sample flip and Gentle Giant is the original Insane Clown Posse.
8. Jay-Z ft. Memphis Bleek - "It's Alright" (Roc-A-Fella, 1998)
PRODUCERS: Damon Dash & Mahogany Music
SAMPLE SOURCES: Talking Heads – “Once In a Lifetime” (Sire, 1980)
Kraftwerk – “The Hall Of Mirrors” (Capitol, 1977)
Party Supplies: Talking Heads are probably my favorite group of all-time and ‘Once In A Lifetime’ is arguably their best song. “It’s Alright” was produced by Damon Dash and Mahogany Music and in my opinion one of the most innovative blends of two uniquely different samples. What better way to make a successful rap song then take drums and synth from the Talking Heads. A bunch of rap acts also sampled “Once In A Lifetime.” Chuck Chillout and Kool Chip blatantly sampled the song on “Rhythm Is The Master” – which is a close second to being our favorite because they also drop a classic Rodney Dangerfield sample. Regardless, “It’s Alright” takes the cake because their version of the sample is perfectly slowed down and the music video for the song is incredible. Jay Z, Memphis Bleek, and DJ Clue and roughly 40 women on the beach in Cancun cut between other scenes… “what happens in Cancun stays in Cancun” is the last frame. If you close your eyes for a second while watching the video you can almost imagine David Byrne in the video dancing with everyone. Also remember “Loc if you wanna Loc” … also the line: “Once I dropped to a caesar/ Ma, I dont need ya.”
9. Beck - “Loser” (DGC, 1994)
PRODUCERS: Beck, Carl Stephenson
SAMPLE SOURCE: Johnny Jenkins – “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” (Atlantic, 1972)
Party Supplies: Besides Beck trying to emulate Chuck D, the driving force of this record is Carl Stephenson’s sitar and the drum break they sampled for the entire song. This is a sample of a sample. In 1968, Dr. John wrote and recorded a classic song “I Walk on Guilded Splinters.” Two years later in 1970, Johnny Jenkins took Dr. John’s song and made a new song out of it. 23 years later Beck and Stephenson took that Johnny Jenkins cover and used a drum break from it to make “Loser.” What’s interesting about this is that Carl Stephenson is a rap producer and Beck is not a rapper. This is obviously what happens when you combine these worlds. I don’t know who actually had the idea to sample the break but I’m assuming it was Stephenson due to his roots in Houston rap and the label Rap-A-Lot Records. “Loser” to us is a classic rap record because the break goes over and over. Beck also claims he recorded the vocals in just one take and also claims he called it “Loser” because he felt he sounded like a loser whenever he tried to rap.
10. J Dilla - "Mash" (Stones Throw, 2006)
SAMPLE SOURCES: Galt MacDermot – “Golden Apples Pt. 2″ (Kilmarnock, 1971)
Frank Zappa – “Dance Contest” (Barking Pumpkin, 1981)
Lou Rawls – “Season of the Witch” (Capitol, 1969)
Party Supplies: Sean and I knew we had to include some Zappa in this list so this is our tenth greatest sample flip of all-time. My brother and Sean once toured years back and all we had to listen to for 5,000 miles was one CD with this song and another Dilla beat. I must have listened to this beat hundreds of times along that drive. MacDermot’s music is simple to the point where you’d almost imagine he was writing the music with the intentions of having someone sample it years later. Dilla slowed the MacDermot sample perfectly on time with the drum. Both visionaries, Dilla and MacDermot combine perfectly on “Mash.” The Frank Zappa sample is just the icing on the cake and really pushes it over. The Lou Rawls sample is the perfect ending. Mastering the perfect loop is near impossible and I think Dilla truly mastered this loop.