I know this isn’t Canadian content, but this is totally worth noting. Between 1999–2006 is a prolific and momentous time for Modern Black Music. Why? Well, much has influenced hip hop and pop as well as the sounds from well known vocalistic influences of the 60s,70s and 80s. All of this can be heard throughout more recent music. When I say more recent; I’m talking about this year! I could have never imagined hearing what music recorded throughout the early-mid 2000s, would sound as snippets for some of the most recognizable hits in the last three years.
After attending “Crate Stories Live”, an online interview series presented by underground alternative Toronto presenters Little Dojo and The Academy, along with Loop Sessions Toronto + Dan Charnas, Author of Dilla Time, NYU Professor and former A&R rep, talked about his multiple encounters with instrumentalist, master sampler and sound bender, James Yancey aka J.Dilla.
The 2+hour deconstructive discussion with host Arcee, is where author Charnas, brought back memories and tons of meticulous supporting details of the sound technique signature to J Dilla. Snippets of music he’d worked on over the years when he was alive, played throughout the session and after hearing this author’s remarks on Dilla’s work, we find that his work left it’s mark on music production techniques and revolutionized multi-genre sound productions worldwide.
During the pre-pandemic COVID 19 window, I started listening to a slew of tracks that I believe created a wave of the most recognizable melodies from early-mid 2000s and heard many superior voices and hooks that’ll never die. Many artists who haven’t performed in years,(with Canadian dates included) are now touring again. With the stellar ticket sales for live shows in many big cities across North America, groups like Wu Tang Clan +artists Nas, Sean Paul are evidence that the ‘2000s’ sound is still hot. Is it? (I know every generation might say this about the music they listened to during their time but the 2000s were pretty dope!)
Aside from the notable copyright cases and remake similarities, what better way to ‘give flowers’ and avoid sampling mishaps + court case settlements by bringing the artists back! Some of the biggest rhythm +blues, ‘urban’ + hip hop artists aren’t dead yet and with major cases like Tracy Chapman’s 1988 song, ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ sampled for Nicki Minaj on her 2018 track ‘Sorry’ featuring Nas; or the VERY recent sampling issue with rapper Latto’s sample of Mariah Carey’s massive hit ‘Fantasy’ for catchy release ‘Big Energy’. Latto initially claimed she wasn’t familiar with Mariah Carey. I mean, myself as a teen, in the late, late 90s, knows Mariah Carey as THE diva of divas. So for Latto, nee Alyssa Michelle Stephens, born in 1998,to have claimed that she didn’t know about the original hit is sorta understandable and even if Carey has had hits spanning across 30 years; I’m still in disbelief she wasn’t aware…….anyway…
What has spurred the idea of this piece that I’m writing here, is the effect that battle show Verzuz had on many Gen Xers and anyone who listened to that genre. As I’ve been listening to some of the older stuff and later on taking in some of the newer artist releases, the reworking and/or incorporation of melodies into these fresh tracks can be heard quite clearly and on purpose. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Canadian artist Drake has released a ‘house’ sounding album titled Honestly, Nevermind, which includes some samples from the era I’ve mentioned above. Samples on the new album include Neo-Soul/rhythm + blues duo Floetry’s ‘Getting Late’ (2002) on familiar sounding track Flight’s Booked.
For those who don’t know what Verzuz is, it’s a ‘spin off’ of the battle between two opposing sides (an idea that sprouted from longtime successful Producers Swizz Beats (Ruff Ryders, DMX, Eve) and Producer Timbaland (Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado) who originally (early during lock down) went toe-to-toe in a challenge over their ‘hardest’ and familiar beats and tracks, over the course of their careers. They shared ALOT from their catalogue and as the event grew, we’ve been seeing from then onwards, how many tracks they’d produced and how many artists they collaborated with over the years.
These earlier in lockdown ‘digital battles’ presented a slew of throwback artists, sounds and groups from our childhoods, showcasing the sounds that were attributed to their genres at THAT moment in time. (roughly about 1997–2007ish) Some of the most popular sounds in Black Music, spanning the last two and a half decades, is now added to the already growing original artist features, remakes or samples and in the last 2–3 years, we’re now hearing a shift in the era from which the sounds are being gathered.
Let’s look back for a bit: The very well known rap song of resistance, ‘Fight The Power’ by Public Enemy, used 22 samples from various sources but the effect described in detail was intentionally made in a way to create a dense sonic landscape, to reinforce their message and connect their songs to thematically similar music from the past. Hence the “I” I mentioned in the opening paragraph. That’s the “I” from Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” You hear it during every “Fight the Power” chorus, but especially in the last few seconds of the song, starting at 3:33, where it repeats. See the article that breaks the sampling pieces here.
Knowing all this detail definitely forces an audiophile like myself to listen to older tracks a little more. (and I wanna add, I love samples!) With the quote I pulled from the article titled ‘The Evolving Art of Sampling’ it makes me wonder what the evolving art of ‘sampling’ looks like today. And in support of this piece, it looks to me as if the next stage of sampling (besides beats and loops) is bringing the live artist back into the mix again. Many of the artists are still here and we’ve actually encountered many of them on those VERZUZ presentations. Here are some of the tracks that I listen to where the OG artist blesses a new track, replaces the sample or lends a completely new sound material for the audience. This brings me to mention DJ/remixer and Twitter sensation @loneamorphous who starting showcasing popular Hip Hop and RnB ‘mashups’ of artists from the early mid 2000s and they sound really good!
So look, here’s a thought: Until the industry figures out how to make block chain and music platforms more equitable for artists, I think you should go ‘head and make a playlist and re-listen to some of your old faves and new gens rock out together!
I’m sure there are many, many more tracks like these coming, especially after summer 2022:
Artist performing with the OGs
Nicole Bus – You (Ghostface Killah Remix)
Latto, Mariah Carey – Big Energy (Remix (Official Audio)) ft. DJ Khaled
Lucky Daye Earth Wind and Fire You Want My Love Collaborative single a reimagining of R&B band’s 1976 hit “Can’t Hide Love”
Gwen Bunn ft. Faith Evans – Between The Lines (Official Music Video)
Be Like Water – Stevie Wonder, PJ Morton, Nas
G-Eazy – Provide (Official Video) ft. Chris Brown, Mark Morrison
Fat Joe, Dj Khaled ,Amorphous – Sunshine (The Light)
Why Don’t We – Sans from Amerie’s Why Don’t We Fall in Love
We Guhd. – Chelsie Denise feat. Smoke Dza
Pride – SprngBrk