Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Know Your History: Givin' Pot Bellied Props

Quick: What do Kid Capri, Main Source, A Tribe Called Quest and a large portion of the Hip-Hop community have in common? Bad publishing deals? No, Lou Donaldson. More specifically, Donaldson's often sampled "Pot Belly".

In 1970, Lou recorded Pot Belly for his album Pretty Things on Blue Note Records, a veritable jazz mill. This song had every element you could ever want in a jazz piece. Funky bassline and lots of high hats? Check. Signature Donaldson alto sax? Check. Psychadelic organs? Big check. The only thing missing from this song is a pair of dark sunglasses and a hand rolled cigarette. It was that cool!

When A Tribe Called Quest released People's Instinctive Travels and Paths Of Rhythm in '89, they were sampling jazz heavily. It was only a matter of time before they got to the Donaldson classic. The B-side of their second single "Can I Kick It?" was "If The Papes Come" which was basically Pot Belly being rhymed over. There was little tweaking to the song which was simply a loop of the original with Q-Tip and Afrika Baby Bam flowing over the beat. It wasn't on the intitial vinyl release and subsequent re-releases of the song have been the "re-mix" with Bam's vocals removed. It showed up again in 1990 on Main Source's "A Friendly Game of Baseball" and Kid Capri's (Yes, he had an album where he rapped!) "The Joke's On You Jack"

Pete Rock actually took the song and dressed it up nicely when he sampled it in 1992 for Heavy D's Blue Funk. I prefer what the Chocoloate Boy Wonder did with it than what the other producers had done previously. Instead of just picking out a section of the song and just looping it, Rock added his signature percussion, scratches and a sample of women singing to make you say: "Hey wait a minute! That's that song..." Like the jazz musicians before him, he took something and improvised and embellished on it to make it a part of what he does. He went on to use portions of the composition in remixes for Da Youngsta's "Pass Da Mic", and "Iz U Wit Me?" As well as House of Pain's "Jump Around".

So let's give props to Lou Donaldson. The great alto saxophonist who's one song in particular has been done and re-done so many times, you could probably make a full length disc of pieces that utilized it. It's the Kim Kardashian of Hip-Hop breaks: You know mad cats used it but you still want to use it yourself. I included the original version as well as "Papes" & "Blue Funk". Please go out and find some of Donaldsons albums as well as these Hip-Hop classics. Enjoy!

Pot Belly-Lou Donaldson
If The Papes Come (feat. Afrika)-A Tribe Called Quest
Blue Funk (Produced by Pete Rock)-Heavy D & The Boyz


travis said...

Nice post, love the sample source stuff like this

Animal Mother said...

Thanks Trav. I used to look at my 12"'s and check for who sampled what. Like so many producers at the time were using Little Green Apples and other songs. I started hunting them down to hear what was used. Now I try to get the mp3's

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