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Old 06-12-2012, 08:51 AM   #1
Big Smokes
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Exclamation Questlove talks production circa 1994

since this is a bit of a long read i thought i post it here



From the ST forum, Questlove talks (primarily) J Dilla, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Marley Marl, Kanye, Premo, Large Pro, etc:



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here is NO potential for opening a can of worms.....or a can o arrogance. (this can go either way if word gets back to either camp)

i guess in a sense there could be speculation on whether or not the "gil scott" voice sample is Donuts-esque in "the people" or if "black maybe" with the use of Syreeta's voice is in that same mode....

but imma take you back and give yall the answer.

cause on the real....

its Kanye, paying tribute to dilla FOR paying tribute to kayne who was paying tribute to rza.

follow me now.

imma jackie brown this and go back a lil. this is gonna be long.


imma start with the pete rock batch.


there lies a pete rock batch somewhere in a basement storage unit in detroit. not only have i heard it but i sorta seen him make it.


see. to all my okayproducers (especially the ones who got into beatmaking circa 1991 to about 2004) 9 times outta 10....the first beat you ever made was someone else's beat. no lie. i feel like the ONLY way to be a better beat maker is to master someone else's beat. figure how they did some ****. and if you REALLY in love with your new found craft (see Dilla) you will find ways to improve on it....and THEN you can call it your own.

i did it. everyone from that era did it. first time i made a beat on someone else's machine i practiced and remade "welcome to the terrordome" because my dad had all the ingredients in his record collection and i practiced on my toy casio sk-1 before i went to bill jolly's crib to mess around with his equipment.

but here is the thing about the "groove merchant" era of production (i dubbed ATCQ, extra p, primo, pete rock, de la (meaning pos and dave and mase were part of that era too....paul was more the "ultimate beats and breaks" era with some crazy pop overtones and masterfull sequencing genius), and diamond d's ---and cats from that feather who later influenced the buckwilds and the jay swifts and the no id's and the like of the production world) that **** (meaning the initial Groove Merchant production way of life) was like gold mining in the wild wild west in the early 1800s. it was an empty marketplace and the coast was clear...but you also knew that time was running out because either someone was going to discover your craft and crowd the marketplace or bite your craft or even worse...change your craft (hello chronic!)


the difference between break shopping in 1994 (when i first got put on to record shopping in the four figures)--and now in 2007?


man....a cat behind the counter could face a potential beatdown if he gave a secret away.


the secret:

afrika bam- would wash the label off the record so you couldn't bite his breakbeats that he would play at zulu parties.

biz and marley- would buy all of the same records and 45s from the same store so the noone else could have access to those records.


tip would NEVER share his secret salvation army store locations on the west coast for fear so and so and such and such would discover it and take some treats too.


pete rock would resort to violence if he got word that a certain record dealer played (hypothetical example) the lou donaldson break of "who's making love" to another producer AFTER said dealer just made pete pay $50 for it

(pete "yo man how you find that break?"
producer "?" "oh i went to downtown records and they had a copy"
pete on the phone "YO MAN WTF!!!!!!!!!")

i mean **** was MAD competitive before i got in the game. once i got in the game it was on its last legs and once i really got 10 years in **** was a lost art. now i record shop in ghost towns of a record store--although STILL expensive, not a crowded marketplace....for the thing that gets you paid in hip hop now is ringtone beats. not samples.

but man...in 94 and 95? beat tape sharing was like a code of honor ****.


cats were never threatened by me cause (i dont know if this is a good or a bad thing) cause i was not "one of them" i "play drums" or...still seen as "not real hip hop" (!?!?)--like the down syndrome cousin you still gotta be nice to at the family reunion...but he aint playing on my softball team damnit.---so they would openly play me **** and show me **** cause i was the first cat to arrive on the scene on some journalist **** and ask about their craft....

i mean you ask pete "how in the hell you manage to stuff the "bubblegum" break, the merv griffin james brown intro on the back of the "world" 45 ("number one soul brother....")"the grunt" backwards, "funky penguin", "long red", "lovin man" by eugene mcdaniels, AND that genius filter of marshall jones' bassline in the ohio players "pain"---in ONE PASS?!?!!?! (my first words to pete...most cats would be like "hello, TROY was a major influence on me" i was more like "pete i need answers NOW!!!!" lol)--i mean dude was flattered that someone cared enough to memo a cookbook-esque like memory to hold their **** up in that light of "importance" ("damn kid...the way you describe it makes me feel like a work of art or something" <---his response)

that didn't work on all cats....tip "stanned" me for about 3 years lol.


but turn that around and let me be a cat tryna come up...let's place that same conversation and this time lemme be just blaze just getting put on in 1993....pete might have his guard up. why? cause new meat means someone else's old meat.

and that is how cats was back then...it would be HILLLLLLLLLARIOUS.


i'd watch cats (except primo who was in a world by himself---no mistaking his sound) do the "oh yeah i got that break" game over and over and over again. as you would play them your new creation. kinda hoping to catch you off guard or make you reconsider you using that sample before they get to do it first.

tip plays his cypress hill "illusion" remix....first thing pete says is "oh yeah this is "the whatnaughts and daaddadadada......i just used this for dadadadadad"

seen crazy cats say "don't tell dadadaddad i flipped marvin gaye's dadadadddada cause he gonna bite and say "I ALREADY DID THAT!!!!!

like some "1..2..3..I GOT MY BASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" game of hide and seek.

THAT is the atmosphere dilla came into being.


although he was part of the second wave of groove merchants--his heart really belonged to the idols he worshiped from the varsity class. but they've been known to scoff and sneer at the youngins cause "that was my snare from 91"....and "his chops is horrible"---i mean it was a competitive game out there.

so of course dilla made his entry under the ATCQ shield. he was the hungry-eager to please new ideas on old records injection they needed.---i mean who is going to be the madman to chop dj towea tei's 6 second loop to make "find a way"? who is going to have the patience to sit through a rodney franklin album to make "wordplay"?---

but sometimes....just to pass the time, dilla would amuse himself and play the "this is how i would do it" game.

not even being smart...or arrogant

just "man if i had a chance to freak some **** before dadadada got to it first".....type thing".


i call it his passive agressive way of saying "im the man"

when i first met him he was still in that young jedi/still the student/just finding things out phase. this is what confused him about cats like me and 88 already knowing what he didn't know then:

he was "THE ONE"


he was VERY uncomfortable with fan worship in that sense because one:
how can someone be declared the greatest when there is NO evidence of it. and if he is so great: why is he living in his parents basement in detroit? (riq does the same ****. HATES when his peers do that: "YO THOUGHT YOU SO ILL! MAN!!! you are the illest ***** ever!!!!---and in his head its like "if i am so ill how come the ONLY ***** that wants me to spit on his **** is Kweli?----i think that is where his "edginess" yall sense comes in....but that is a whole nother poast")

but i was more quiet about him being "THE ONE"--

until okayplayer came along.

but that was 5 years after i met him so i was cool.

anywho....back to that pete rock batch--

dilla was ALWAYS making these ill ass beats that pete rock already made.

like his version of "for pete sake" with the "substitution" drums all demented like he did for Common.

or him flipping "Bam Bam" from Sister Nancy like Pete did on the basement.

**** that regular ears would never hear....he'd pick me up from the airport and on the floor would be a cassette and it would say "pete" or "primo" or "dre" and it was just him doing some homework trying to up his game with different challenges.---

i mean mastering primo means getting your scratch game and your accapella knowledge up and working with big meaty drums as opposed to the small crispy kit you used for your own project.

but if you wanna be the illest you gotta master it.
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