It was a Saturday night in Surrey and I was crouched over the radio like Batman on a cold rooftop. Westwood was blaring as I sat by the box recording the vibes contained within black wax that spun with mechanical precision like planets in our solar system. Those days had a sort of weird paradoxical occurrence. The art of not knowing yet knowing at the exact same time. Not knowing when the new song that would melt your mind was gonna come on but steadfastly sure that it was gonna pop up. If you didn’t know then why even dedicate the time? Not knowing has a lot of strength because its the mother of creation. Yet it is also a sign of skill when someone you associate with something does something really out of your perceived norm of their style and make something you didn’t know they did. It’s even better when the results are stellar.
As the rapper on the airwaves ( Keith Murray if memory serves me right ) said the call-in number for the radio one rap show the stuttering drums kicked in seconds before the liquid guitar and bass
loop manifested in all that majestic boom bap glory. Westwood made some quick announcements over the loop before Andre came forth with the words “All I see is blinking lights/ track boards and fat mics/ 950s/ SP 12’s MP 60s/” setting the stage for one of the most loved Hip Hop singles of 1995. DJ Premiere really threw me for a loop (pun intended? You figure it out ) with this one.
I remember when I found out he made this beat. I was dumbfounded because it just didn’t remind me of anything he had done that I heard. The other beat that year that Primo surprised me about was “Real Hip hop” for Das Efx and even that sounded way more like a Primo beat than this one. I identified Primo with hard aggressive drums that had a certain smack to them. These drums worked in a more shuffled sort of way. The sample in retrospect could be identified as a Primo loop but the way it landed over the drums just didn’t strike me as Primo. I assumed Showbiz had flipped this beat cause he was already a well-respected producer with a rack of classics under his belt that had a moving groove sort of thump to them. When I read the Goodfellas album credits and saw Primo flipped the remix blew me away.
The beat would crop up again in two other legendary moments. One was the INCREDIBLE “Chest to chest” freestyle from the LOX where they disintegrated the beat to the last molecule of possible existence. Seriously, listen to that freestyle and tell me it ain’t hard to decide who ripped it the most. The next event was its appearance in 8 Mile. Considering the amount of classic beats that could have been used in the movie the fact that this one made it speaks volumes to how dope it is. I knew DJ Premiere made dope beats, I didn’t know he made this one.
I knew AG was dope. I didn’t know he was this good. Coming up I was unable to get a copy of Runaway Slave so I only knew him from “Fat Pockets” and “Bounce To This”. These songs were assisted by Showbiz and Dres respectively. So this was the first time I heard AG go for dolo on a track. His respect of the culture burst out through lines like “Peace to every single rapper on this whole earth/ sellouts got no worth/ I think they better go soul search”. The subject matter was basic Hip Hop lyrical mainstays: Mic skills and reflecting ones environment, aspirations and the b-boy state of mind.
The line that got stuck in my head from this song was the very simple: “showed all these corny muthafuckas what Hip Hop’s supposed to sound like”. The classic tradition of making sure that heads knew there was certain protocol one had to follow to rep this culture. The song was very visual in the aforementioned opening lines too about the studio sights. When I became a producer and started to understand what all those numbers he was saying was it made me appreciate how AG came from the angle of just speaking about what he saw in detail.
Dope beat and Dope lyrics minus the bullshit. The simplified formula that has served this art form for decades. The formula may get updated but it will be forever perfectly summed by the line “Showing all these corny muthatfuckas what Hip Hop’s supposed to sound like” because sometimes it’s easy to forget that the simpler you can state something the more complex your understanding of it actually is.