Since emerging in the early '00s, Supa Dave West 's boasted fans of his beat-making prowess in collaborators De La Soul, Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah, E-40 and J Dilla (being one of the privileged few producers to contribute to Dilla Dog's aborted '03 MCA Records solo project, Pay Jay ). But it wasn't until just this year that the Strong Island boardsman enjoyed his official solo debut endeavor in Beat Boxin - an excellent and overdue 23-track instrumental suite that draws from old school Bronx breaks, synth-centric prog-rock, South Asian vocals, talk-box boogie funk and healthy doses of humor. His expertise at manipulating samples thus encapsulated, we felt compelled to have Supa Dave discuss a few favorite flips by his peers.
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1. Gang Starr ft. Nice & Smooth - "Dwyck" (Chrysalis, 1992)
Producer: DJ Premier
Sample Sources: Melvin Bliss - "Synthetic Substitution" (Sunburst, 1973); Clarence Wheeler & the Enforcers - "Hey Jude" (Atlantic, 1970)
Supa Dave West: Just classic Preem to me. His production was all touch, from my knowledge of flippin' samples. It was only shit you could do quick or you'd lose it. Snatch it and loop it or it would get too serious. It was the backdrop to so many New York City moments. I would always would hear it loud in somebody's jeep. It felt like uptown. Bounce hustler music. Shows you that feel is everything in hip-hop music. That beat was so simple that if he would have added one more thing it would have fucked the whole beat up!!
2. EPMD - "So Wat Cha Sayin" (Fresh, 1989)
Sample Source: B.T. Express - If You It Don't Turn You On (You Oughta Leave It Alone) (Scepter, 1974)
Supa Dave West: This was a period in which hip-hop music was magic to me. I couldn't recognize chops n' shit so it sounded like one whole original song (as it should). This song was like hearing the funkiest band ever. The fact that it was mixed horribly only helped the funk aspect. E-Double really caught that spirit of street music as it was being defined. This also was drug dealer BBS rim music to me. Only hustlers was bangin' this shit. Long island was just a fly place. Just a creative town. Long island was unpredictable just like the Bronx was.
3. Run-DMC - "Sucker MC's" (Profile, 1983)
Producers: Russell Simmons & Larry Smith
Sample Source: Orange Krush - "Action" (Prep Street, 1982)
Supa Dave West: The source of music was provided by Orange Krush - the same team that produced "Action" featuring Alyson Williams. If you listen to the top of "Action" you will hear similar drum patterns used to drum program "Sucker MC's." This record made me feel the heart of hip-hop music before I knew how to explain it. The uniform that Run-DMC wore made us feel like we had a ghetto rock group to look up to. It was like basketball, pimp, ghetto chic. Run's voice and DMC's counter-tone made them sound electric through the hood like they were musical preachers. Life changed for me the moment I heard this record. You couldn't ignore the drums or the vocals.
4. Kurtis Blow - "AJ Scratch" (Mercury, 1984)
Producers: J.B. Moore & Bob Ford (The era of using your government name 'cause you wanted ya moms to read the credits and know who the hell you were.)
Sample Sources: Kurtis Blow - "The Breaks" (Mercury, 1980); Funk Inc. - "Kool Is Back" (Prestige, 1971); Vaughan Mason - "Bounce Rock Skate Roll" (Brunswick, 1979); Bob James - "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" (CTI, 1975); John Davis & the Monster Orchestra - "I Can't Stop" (SAM, 1976)
Supa Dave West: The flange on Kurtis' voice and the tone in which he spit this song was the music (to me). The extra samples only made it more street. I first heard it on the radio while getting ready for school and mentally prepping my self for a fight I was scheduled for that day. Scared as hell lacing up my Pumas. (I won that fight.) This was the breakdance/handball era for me. A magical time.
5. Das EFX - "Real Hip-Hop" (EastWest, 1994)
Producer: DJ Premier
Sample Source: Norman Connors - "The Creator Has a Master Plan" (Buddah, 1976)
Supa Dave West: Preem classic. This is a joint I wished I produced. And he kept it super breakbeat and the whole shit - 100% record samples and drums. This is one of the last classic wide open sample at the top of the song loops. Before you really had to start chopping like a lumberjack. I can never let it go in my mind.If i start thinking about this loop it will play in my head until I doze off. It was that magical for me. 2-bar looped crack.
6. Common - "Heat" (MCA, 2000)
Producer: Jay Dee/J Dilla
Sample Source: Tony Allen - "Asiko" (Comet, 1999)
Supa Dave West: This beat is crazy because Jay caught the perfect part of the loop. He never over did or under did (bad English) anything. It was so b-boy at the same time. You could bounce to it or breakdance to it. I remember driving my whip listening to it loud and I would always start speeding. You wanna match the speed and the energy of this beat when you hear it. What also made this classic is that Common's vocal tone went with it just right. He tends to sound like a younger Gil Scott. So his delivery almost sounded like empowerment to the people; hood news with a mix of a "I'm the shit"-emcee flow. The perfect beat to paint to.
7. De La Soul - "Oodles of O's" (Tommy Boy, 1991)
Producers: De La Soul, Prince Paul
Sample Sources: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - "Stretching" (Muse, 1978); James Brown - "Funky Drummer"(King, 1970)
Supa Dave West: This is classic early 90's hip-hop and the magic was in the arrangement. I can't remember the rest but I know it took 3 or 4 records to craft this masterpiece. Before pitch correction and Protools, the beats made like this one took attention to detail. And a certain love for the art form of building with an intent. Like architecture. I was so in love with this beat cause I felt like I was a guest at a private freak show. But it was still ghetto. Relatable, revolutionary. Long Island for ya!!
8. Dr. Dre - "Xxplosive (Aftermath, 2001)
Producer: Dr. Dre
Sample Source: Soul Mann & the Brothers - "Bumpy's Lament" (Pickwick, 1971)
Supa Dave West: This is a great example of the studio culture that hip-hop used to be fueled by. There were a lot of people [whose contributions] went into this record. And Dre directed a masterful replay of the sample so that he could isolate everything and get one of those big clean mixes that he's legendary for. Half of what makes this shit so hot is the fact that it's mixed like almost nothing I've ever heard. History is built one moment at a time. If he didn't take the time to mix these records Beats by Dre as a brand would have no meaning. LET'S START MIXING RECORDS AGAIN. Nuff said!!
9. Brand Nubian - "All For One" (Elektra, 1991)
Producers: Grand Puba/Brand Nubian (and some talented drum programmer I'm sure)
Sample Source: James Brown - "Can Mind" (King, 1970)
Supa Dave West: One of the best most infectious one bar loops of all time. Puba's voice was hip-hop at the time. He sounded like a rascal that was let loose in the studio. But they stood for something. Fly backpack hip-hop music. Short two-step to the beat. Basement party music. (When b-girls had a mean rack under that baggy sweatshirt.) I used to get goose bumps listening to this.
10. Ghostface Killa ft. Raekwon - "Kilo" (Def Jam, 2006)
Sample Source: Jimmy Vann and Richard Hieronymus - "I Weigh With Kilos" (Metric, 1976)
Supa Dave West: Man this beat is soooooo hip-hop. The perfect loop. Children's wholesome educational music turned into crack dealer story board with the most arrogant, animated two artists in hip-hop of all time. The perfect marriage. I was mad as hell when I heard this shit (like when Rockwilder played that war shit, "I.C. Yall" in a De La session and shut it down). I was like, damn I will never make a beat as good as this shit!!