This is Past Sounds. Every Friday Ghettoblaster Magazine is looking back and finding great music from various eras. Below are songs that sound great no matter what decade they’re played in. So strap in as we take a musical journey, back in time.
Funkadelic – “Hit it and Quit it” (Maggot Brain, Westbound Records) 1971
Maggot Brain, the third album from Funkadelic, is widely considered one of the best funk albums of all time. “Hit it and Quit it” is a definite standout track from the start with the fantastic guitar and organ interplay right out of the gate and it doesn’t let up from there. The drum and bass groove that the song settles into is quite interesting and will have your head bobbing without a doubt. This song really is an example of a perfect song. It’s catchy, it’s aggressive, it’s got both an awesome organ solo and a scorching guitar solo and both the main vocal and background vocal performance is arresting. This is definitely one to turn up and roll the windows down to.
Digable Planets – “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” (Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), Capitol Records) 1993
Digable Planets are true masters of the fusion between Jazz and Hip Hop and “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) is a great example why. It begins with a simple, jazzy bass line loop and introduces a fantastic horn loop just seconds later. Digable Planets is comprised of three excellent rappers under the names: Ladybug, Butterfly and Doodlebug. It’s no surprise that rappers with names like theirs would go against the grain of typical 90s hip hop. “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” is quite literally about how they are some cool cats. Just listen to the smoothness of each of their vocal delivery spitting lines with intricate wordplay all about how awesome they are. It’s really a lot of fun, and also very true.
T.I. – “Bring Em Out” (Urban Legend, Atlantic Records) 2004
T.I. is in a class of rappers with only a select few. This class is made up of rappers who are incredibly commercially successful and critically acclaimed as well. They make ear worms for the masses with substance to knock you on your asses. There are not too many rappers who can succeed at this and that is essentially what the straight up banger “Bring Em Out” is all about. Everyone loves T.I., everyone is chanting to bring out T.I., we all want a piece of him. “Bring Em Out” does what most great T.I. songs do; it creates a sense of victory and celebration, as if there was a parade being thrown in his honor. Just listen to those horns, those whistles and that driving beat! None of this would matter if T.I. couldn’t rap, and “Bring Em Out” displays why his fast and smooth delivery is so enjoyable and celebrated.
Curtis Mayfield – “Move on Up” (Curtis!, Curtom Records) 1970
Infinitely Sampled and Underrated: The Curtis Mayfield Story. Curtis Mayfield has created some of the best soul music ever and while he is popular, he is not widely considered in the conversation of best musicians for some reason. “Move on Up” should serve as exhibit A in the case to make that he should be. It’s a marvel of music, which was actually sampled in Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky.” Curtis’ guitar work blends beautifully with all the horns and percussion and everything going on here. Honestly, words don’t do it justice, just hit play.
Shabazz Palaces – “Swerve … the reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)” (Black Up, Sub Pop Records) 2011
Shabazz Palaces is comprised of Ishmael Butler (aka Butterfly from Digable Planets) on the mic and Tendai Maraire on the instrumentation. They have pulled inspiration from a lot of different places to create this spacey and abstract form of hip hop with elements of jazz and African percussive instruments. The songs they make are really mesmerizing and “Swerve … the reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)” is a glorious display of their talents. It floats along in three movements, separate yet cohesive. The first movement features Butler rapping over fractured and dystopian beat. Movement two introduces female vocals from THEESatisfaction with a slight tweaking of the beat. Finally, movement three focuses on a simple and beautiful refrain sung over very catchy African inspired music: “Black is you, Black is me, Black is us, Black is free.”