January 25, 2009
another mic test that became a song, this time a cover of “hola hovito.” the blueprint has been my favorite rap album for as long as i have had a favorite rap album (excepting brief intermissions for people’s instinctive travels and paths to rhythm and reachin’ (a new refutation of time and space) which thinking about it now both probably would’ve sold more copies if they had shorter names) . it started being my favorite rap album back when i didn’t really like rap but wanted to have a favorite rap album so i could feel like i had diverse and liberal taste and it’s stayed my favorite rap album right on through me starting to like, liking, and loving rap. the first cd i ever bought with my own money was the soundtrack album for the remake of godzilla, which i bought solely for the puff daddy/jimmy page collab “come with me” which i still contend is fucking awesome, i don’t care what you say (there was also a decent jamiroquai song if i remember and that wallflowers cover of “heroes” which had some very pretty e-bow on it).
the union of classic rockish guitars and rap has always interested me — i wrote a really swell paper on it in college, talking about ways rap producers sample classic rock. my opening posited “walk this way” as this sort of perfect harmony between the two genres (i.e. in parts the riff is sampled and scratched but in parts joe plays live lead, the shared vocals etc.). then i compared the use of the “when the levee breaks” drum sample in the beastie boys song “rhymin and stealin'” and the dr. dre song “lyrical gangbang” (and also some coup song i can’t even remember) — how the beasties, irreverent as they are, were so respectful of this sample (allowing it sections where it’s playing by itself) whereas for dre it’s just one element of the composition (alongside bongo drums!) and besides dre’s goal is a “lyrical gangbang,” not a musical one. the main thread of the essay after that (i don’t think it had a proper thesis statement, i sucked at that always) was how rap producers sampling classic rock were reversing the power/exploitation dynamic from white musicians stealing from black roots music to create rock and roll (i think i talked about elvis and the jimmy page lawsuits, i don’t know, i lost the paper) . one of the examples i used for that part was the sample of the doors’ “five to one” on the blueprint‘s “takeover,” the sort of disembodying/looping of jim morrison’s voice and also the “fame” part and how totally wimpy the guitar sounds when compared to the bassline.
“the takeover” isn’t one of my favorite songs on the blueprint. like everybody else, i’m a sucker for the sped up soul samples and those are the ones i like best because they just make you feel good, grown and sexy and shit. for a long time i would skip “hola hovito” and it was probably my least favorite song on the album (well, besides that eminem song which i just deleted from itunes). now i don’t understand how stupid i was and i listen to it all the time. the production is amazing — like, it’s graceful and sonically experimental and so complex but also a total banger. it’s like if “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” were really true, like if muhammad ali was also baryshnikov (and also martian). obviously i couldn’t even try to come anywhere near tim’s production so i just tried to do the garage rock version of the song (i did take something from a youtube video i saw of i think him and kanye layering different kicks on top of each other and so i doubled the drum tracks in the choruses with a 909). my flow is also really weak and i guess i’m just really riding the white indie boy novelty thing — i could definitely do this song better but i was doing it without listening to the song but just reading lyrics and basing the performance on memory (i still couldn’t figure out the rhythm on the last couple lines so i cut them) and it’s a first take and i only really nail the feel in the second verse and whatever, why am i making excuses, this shit isn’t rock band, i don’t get a score.