Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blue Break Beats

Funk, soul, and R&B music has long formed the back beat for Hip-Hop, and Hip-Hop music has been both revered and denigrated for its extensive reliance on "sampling." While producers like Dr. Dre, RZA, and Madlib have elevated sampling to a uniquely modern art form, it's also argued that many mainstream hip-hop artists have relied too heavily on borrowed choruses and grooves. What often gets overlooked in this debate is the inherent quality of the original recordings themselves. For a closer look at what's going on in the background of your favorite hip-hop tracks, check out these discs:

Blue Break Beats, Vol. 1
Find it in the catalog!
A compilation of jazz/funk songs originally released on the legendary Blue Note Label. All these tracks have been heavily sampled, often with great success. What's undeniable is that the songs themselves are plenty soulful in their own right.

Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note
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Another one from the Blue Note Label, this is a collection of remixes and reinterpretations of the classic Blue Note sound by MC/producer Madlib. This disc works as a great companion to the Blue Break Beats CD. For those who don't know: Madlib, who records and produces under a host of aliases, is one of the most vital and innovative figures in contemporary hip-hop.

Shaolin Soul: Classic Soul Sounds That Inspired the Wu-Tang Clan
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All the songs on this compilation have either been sampled on a Wu-Tang Clan record or a Wu-Tang member's solo album, such as Method Man, GZA and ODB. The insightful liner notes by "Monk" Mason are a real treat.

What it is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves
Find it in the catalog!
This 4-Disc box-set is the motherlode. Ranging from established soul classics to long-forgotten gems, this 91 track compilation is an embarassment of riches. Many of these songs have been extensivley sampled, and some of them can only be found here.