Category Archives: samples

Kaleef “Golden Brown”

Back in the day, you know, when Al Gore invented the Internet, I spent a hell of a lot of time on the Hieroglyphics message board. Peeps were trading tapes, mixes, CDs, records, you name it. You see, kids, this is how they did it before mp3 blogs. Mix tapes were meticulously recorded then sent out through real, actual mail.

Well, I still have a shit ton (heh, “shit ton”; that’s for Chris) of those mixes – yes, you might say I have tapes ‘n tapes. I’ve not taken the time to sort through and digitize them, though there are some gems in there. Like this track, Golden Brown by Kaleef. This was one of the greatest tracks I received on any mix, and I had (and still have) no clue who this Kaleef character is.

So I was quite thrilled to see the great Analog Giant drop a post with the original track from which Kaleef sampled. The song – also called Golden Brown – was composed by the Stranglers, yet another artist about which I admittedly know nothing.

No matter because this is one of my favorite exercises in listening to music, hip-hop especially: samples, how they’re used and finding the original source material from which the sample derived. I imagine if you’re a DJ or producer, the vast potential of sampling material must be overwhelming. This relatively unknown Kaleef track is probably indicative of the thousands of creative sample uses that go unnoticed.

Kaleef | Golden Brown
The Stranglers | Golden Brown (@ Analog Giant)

Here’s a few pics from Thursday night’s People Under the Stairs show with Psalm One and Time Machine. That was my first time seeing PUtS, and those guys bring serious energy with the good-time vibes.

Thes One and Double K are People Under the Stairs.

Double K rocks his T: “Hip-hop … is not on the radio.”


hes One ripped off some kid’s hat for this rap.

Cage samples Built to Spill: “Ballad of Worms”

Yesterday I was reading the excellent A.V. Club at The Onion, whose Random Rules is a regular feature with an artist who discusses shuffled songs on his/her iPod.

This week’s guest is Slug of Minnesota’s Atmosphere. Included among Slug’s wide-ranging shuffled stops (Tom Waits, Lifter Puller) was Built to Spill’s I Would Hurt a Fly. Slug tells us, “This is actually my favorite Built To Spill song ever, and it’s totally because of a rapper named Cage.” I like both artists but had no clue their paths ever crossed in the form of a hip-hop track.

Turns out, Cage (on El-P’s great Definitive Jux label) samples Hurt a Fly for a track called Ballad of Worms (2004, Eastern Conference: All Stars III) – which details, quite graphically at times, his sick girlfriend who is on her deathbed: “I tell her, keep her head up / Even though I gotta hold it up for her.”

In the hands of Cage, Doug Martsch’s lifted vocals (“I can’t get that sound you make out of my head … “) still depress but in a more macabre tone. The sampled strings and guitars sound even more haunting and desperate than in the original Built to Spill track.

A few points to be made here: For one, this is sampling at its best. Not so much in terms of creatively reworking the sampled source but in recognizing a mood in a lyric and giving it a different meaning in a new context.

Secondly, why aren’t we seeing more of this? That is, hip-hop artists sampling more current indie acts. The hurdle of clearing samples aside, this marriage of genres would go a long way to help squash whatever preconceived notions fans may have of either style. It’s a little more than intriguing that a respected underground MC is sampling an iconic indie-rock group. If you’re a Built to Spill fan, maybe you don’t run out and buy Cage’s albums, but he at least piques your interest. And we might safely assume that Cage had some working knowledge of Built to Spill’s catalog, meaning he’s probably a fan himself. At the very least, you have to respect that.

Cage | Ballad of Worms
Built to Spill | I Would Hurt a Fly

Post #200!: Tim Fite resuscitates Trunk Federation

One of the painfully obvious disadvantages of buying music digitally is the lack of liner notes. So it was only recently that I learned that Tim Fite sampled two Trunk Federation songs for his fantastic 2005 release Gone Ain’t Gone. In fact, Fite used samples only from albums he salvaged from the dollar bins.

As fate (Fite?) would have it, Trunk Federation got its start in the 1990s in Tempe, Ariz., which always seemed on the cusp of breaking out in the 90s as The Next Big City. Never quite worked out that way, but Trunk Federation gained a bit of cult following with three full-lengths: The Infamous Hamburger Tranfer (1997); The Curse of Miss Kitty (1998); and Lay the Hip (2000).
The band faded into oblivion (and, apparently, the dollar bin) after problems with their record label Alias, internal issues and substance abuse. (Phoenix New Times article here.)

Trunk Federation never quite fit the conservative pop sounds coming out of Arizona at the time (think Gin Blossoms, Refreshments); its style was a little quirkier, which seems to lend itself to Fite’s cut-and-paste experimenting. I just wonder if he heard of Trunk Federation prior to finding The Curse of Miss Kitty in the dollar bin.

Regardless, below are the two songs Fite used (quite liberally in the case of Levitations and Disappearances) and his interpretations of them for Gone Ain’t Gone. (For those in Arizona, Fite will be in Tucson on Feb. 26 at Plush.)

Trunk Federation | Apples
Tim Fite | A Little Bit

Trunk Federation | Levitations and Disappearances
Tim Fite | Forty-Five Remedies

Also …

This was Post No. 200 since starting last July. We’ve come a long way, and I truly appreciate the readers and other bloggers who have encouraged and linked me. Leave your questions, concerns, congratulations or criticisms in the comments below.

On a personal note … when I started, I couldn’t have made it without the generous linking of others, and I’m trying to return the favor and give back what I can. A few of the big guns out there (Gorilla vs. Bear and My Old Kentucky Blog, specifically) couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive. On the flip side, some of the arrogant and holier-than-thou attitudes of a few sites (which shall remain nameless) really grate my nerves. Nobody is cooler or better than the next. I’ll leave it at that, without getting into specifics.

I encourage you to visit any and all sites on my roll, and here are a few new (or new to me) blogs that have been added to the roll or will be in the near future:

One more note: Thanks to my wife for allowing me to obsess over this blog, come to bed late and for giving me the knowledge to know that I’ll always have at least one reader.

Samples: Organized Konfusion/Charles Mingus

My last post on sample usage seemed to create some buzz, and my web stats tell me that people were searching for the original track used in Kanye’s Gold Digger. Today’s before and after sample usage comes courtesy of Organized Konfusion’s massively underrated album, Stress: The Extinction Agenda.

The title track Stress takes a fairly high-pitched horn loop from Charles Mingus’ Mingus Fingus No. 2. The loop is the centerpiece of the chorus: “Crush, kill, destroy stress.” Man, this album HAS to be one of the best of the ’90s. If you slept, you need to rewind and pick this up.

My knowledge of Mingus, a bassist, is limited, although I own two CDs, including Mingus Ah Um, which is name-dropped in the Digable Planets song Pacifics: “Checkin’ out some Fromme, some Sartre, Camus/ Mingus’ Ah Um / damn Roach can drum.” Read up on Mingus here.

I think one of the best things about the ’90s era of hip-hop was the sampling of jazz greats. I religiously read liner notes, and it always piqued my curiosity to see who some of my favorite artists were sampling. It inspired me to dig into the music that was inspiring them.

Organized Konfusion | Stress
Charles Mingus | Mingus Fingus No. 2

Samples: before and after

This is the first in what I plan on making a recurring feature on this blog. It sort of marries my interests in hip-hop and vinyl. Basically, I’ll link a hip-hop song and — if I own it or can find it on vinyl — I’ll digitize the sample used in said song. Why? Because I can. And (not to sound too righteous) because I think it’s important that the original song is given its due in its original form.

That’s why I chose Kanye West’s Gold Digger as my first selection. I gotta say, I was at first excited to hear he used a great Ray Charles song I Got a Woman as the main loop. That is, until I heard Jamie Foxx alter the lyrics in the opening (sigh):

Jamie Foxx/Kanye West: “She takes my money when I’m in need / yeah she’s a trifling friend indeed”
Ray Charles: “She gives me money when I’m in need / yeah she’s a kind of friend indeed”

If you ask me, Ray’s vision of the song is totally lost here. He was writing an ode to his woman. Kanye’s is a knock on women. This is what happens when Jamie Foxx gets involved.

You be the judge:

Kanye West | Gold Digger
Ray Charles | I Got a Woman