Today marks the second installment of Breakbeat Tuesday with a special guest and I’m extremely privilege to have this person come through and drop some heat. You could say that the very term “Breakbeat” was solidified into our lexicon by the release of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats compilation series from 1986 to 1991 by Street Beat Records. This collection was compiled by two legends – Lenny Roberts and Breakbeat Lou. So it is my sincere honor today to present Breakbeat Tuesday, brought to you by the one and onlyBreakbeat Lou…
WOW, I’M ACTUALLY WRITING FOR COSMO BAKER’S BREAKBEAT TUESDAY! After a couple weeks of obstacles, I’m finally here. It is so awesome that he created this forum for the genre of BreakBeat.
Well before the featured Breakbeat cut, here’s a brief 411. For me, record collecting started back in 1973 when I purchased my first record – Willie Colon’s track “Che Che Cole” Featuring Hector Lavoe on 45 (FANIA 515). This was the beginning of my addiction to vinyl (which at last count was approximately over 20,000, that includes the likes of Benny More, The Four Seasons, Run-DMC, Luciano Pavarotti and everything in between.) My DJ career started in late 1974 with jams and house parties (yes and hooky parties too lol…) My breakbeat diggin’ days started in 1977 when I bought “Space Funk” by Manzel at Crazy Eddie’s on Fordham Road in the Bronx. Even though I was cutting beats since ’75, all those beats I rocked then belong to my crew. After DJing for several years I started getting more into the elements of music which led me to production in 1981 and subsequently the birth of the original break beat series. Now for the featured Breakbeat!
It started back in the mid to late ’70 when I first heard it, but what I remembered most about this track is; I’m walking into the P.A.L . (Police Athletic League) on Webster & 183rd Street in The Bronx, the words coming out the speakers were “Hey Fellas I’m talking to you, you and you…..” for about 6 times then he cuts straight into the break we all know “Woo Yea” followed by the horns riff and lyrics ‘It Take Two To Make A Thing Go Right” the he goes back to the “Woo Yea” and the horns as he spins back faster and caught it 4 to five times and then he gets faster catches at the “Woo Yea” for about 6 or 7 times. The D.J. was Grandmaster Flash and of course the Breakbeat is “Think (About It)” by Lyn Collins (the LP Version).
This beat kept lingering in the back of my mind. The funky, uncanny production of James Brown with the J.B.’s., those signature drums with tambourines, along with the awesome horn section on a bed of organ riffs and rhythm guitar topped off with Lyn’s vocals at a 113BPM guarantee bop your head funk! This experience let us to dig for a mint copy and add it the Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilation. When it came to actually record the record, I had discussed with Lenny what I heard @ the P.A.L. and because every DJ at the time was not as fast as Flash we decided to create the infamous “WOO YEA” edit, which is synonymous with the Rob Base hit and many others. Since we reintroduced it in 1987 it has been sampled hundreds of times and from numerous sections of the song!
In conclusion, it is without a shadow of a doubt that Lyn Collins’ “Think (About It)” has played a pivotal part in the music! (Especially the UBB edit shameless plug… lol). Until Next Time If There Is A Next Time!!!!!!
Okay yo so how bad is that? Like I’m in awe, straight up. Thanks so much for blessing my page with your knowledge, Lou. And for all you people out there don’t forget to check out Lou and the great site and resource of knowledge atwww.ultimatebreaksandbeats.com
Melvin Bliss has died and I don’t know what to say about it because I barely know anything about him. And, while it’s sad when anyone passes on it’s not like Mr. Bliss had a personal effect on me or on the world in the way that someone like MJ or Biggie Smalls did. Or did he?
Not too long after I first started DJing, I saved all my money and went down to Tower Records on South Street in Philly and bought the entire Ultimate Breaks & Beats collection (something every DJ should have done at one point in their career – a DJ not knowing his UBBs is like a chemist who can’t recite the periodic table.) Anyway, on Volume 505 (“the purple one”) there was this one song that I loved by Herb Rooney, a haunting and spooky song with dark piano and all these strange minor chords where the singer was singing about these vague ominous visions of a future world where love is replaced by synthetics. “Replacing a woman with a love machine…” So crazy, and in full listen it’s a very beautiful song, musically, lyrically, well constructed, produced and mixed.
But obviously the thing that hit most hard about the song was the opening 6 seconds, which has one of the hardest drum breaks known to man. Instantly I knew it the first time I heard it. As someone who grew up on rap music in the 1980s it was unmistakable. Listening to this song “Substitution” reminded me of the first time I heard “Ego Trippin’.” Do you remember the first time you heard “Ego Trippin’?” I do…
Eventually I came to realize that the Herb Rooney was just the composer & producer of the song and that it was actually performed by Melvin Bliss. Mel (born Melvin McClellan) was a Chicago native who eventually relocated to New York to work on the jazz / lounge singer circuit here. Somehow Mel linked up with Herb Rooney of The Exciters fame to release a 7″ single for New York based Sunburst Records, which was the song “Reward.” (As an aside, here’s an incredible early 60s “music video” of Herb with The Exciters doing “Tell Him” in a zoo. Incredible find!)
So Mel recorded “Reward” and the story goes that they just needed a B-Side for the single and so Rooney came up with “Synthetic Substition.” None of the dudes even knew what the song was about but they knew it had quite a groove. So they put it down, starting with a thunderous 6 second drum beat laid down by none other than Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, one of the most prolific and influential drummers of American music history. The record did well at the time but these guys couldn’t look into the future and see how they were changing the world. And that’s exactly what they did. A short 6 seconds and everything is different now, with the appropriation of the Substitution beat and they way that it was instrumental in becoming one of the building blocks of hip-hop and eventually modern pop-culture. I was talking about this with my man a few weeks back about how these dudes had no idea how large this was to become. They were just in their groove, but with all the right elements in place – the drums are microphoned up just right, the levels on the board are perfect, drummer on point of course, tape rolling… and before you know it run that through a filter 15-20 years later of some guys from Bronx or Connecticut or West Philly. Allow that to marinate and before you know it, you have 6 seconds of drums, or even so far as to say the individual kick drum hit, the individual snare hit, that are instantly recognizable by an entire generation of people. You don’t know shit about some 45 that came out in 1973 on Sunburst by a lounge singer Mel Bliss. But you do know this record, you grew up listening to this record even if you didn’t realize it. Substitution is so deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness of our generation that it’s ridiculous. Now I don’t even know what “Reward” sounds like but I know “Substitution” like the back of my hand. I own a lot of records but the original Sunburst 45 is something that has been elusive to me for years now. I’ve never gotten around to ponying up the $150-$200 for a copy. One of these days though… One of these days. It’s an integralsong, an integral piece to have. If the UBB’s are hip-hop’s periodic table, “Substition” may be its Carbon. And there’s nothing like having the real thing, no substitution…
And so thank you for your contribution to the planet, Mel. You helped change the world in a wonderful way, whether you knew it or not, by just doing what you do. Rest in peace to the one and only Melvin Bliss. For more info, check out this fantastic and moving write-up obituary style written by Matt Rodgers courtesy of Wax Poetics Magazine. Thanks to my dude Monk-One for sharing this.
Here is the original version of “Synthetic Substitution” as well as some more goodies. My man Monk-One did an article recently on Mel Bliss for Wax Poetics and (although I haven’t read it yet) I only expect the absolute best from him. You should grip Volume 42 now while you can, and in the meantime here are a few edits that Monk decided to bless us with. First is his re-edit of “Synthetic Substitution” that takes all the parts and piano chords and chops them up in a really lovely and engaging way. The second his his “Bonus beats” where he takes the “Impeach The President” drums and replays them in the “Substition” pattern (much like the way that Dilla played the “Long Red” drums in the “Big Beat” pattern on De La Soul’s “Verbal Clap“)
And last but not least, here’s a great mix by my man the incomparable Matthew Africa which showcases 47 songs that sample these legendary drums. Great mix, great concept, greater dude. Peep game below and show some love.
1. Ultramagnetic MCs: Ego Tripping
2. Xperado: Watch Your Step feat. O.C.
3. Divine Force: Holy War
4. Ghostface Killah: Mighty Healthy
5. N.W.A.: Real Zaggin Don’t Die
6. Too Poetic: God Made Me Funky
7. Onyx: Throw Ya Gunz
8. Pharcyde: Ya Mama
9. Pete Rock & CL Smooth: For Pete’s Sake
10. Public Enemy: Don’t Believe the Hype
11. Willie D: Put the Fuckin’ Gun Away
12. MC Jr. Cas: Walk On the Wild Side [Club mix]
13. Almighty RSO: One in the Chamba feat. M.O.P.
14. Group Home: So Called Friends
15. T-Wiz: Good Thing Goin’
16. Knowledge: Put On Your X
17. Def Jef: Black to the Future RMX
18. Top Choice Clique: Peace of Mind
19. Biz Markie: Cool V’s Tribute to Scratching
20. Supreme Nyborn: Versatile Extension
21. Ultramagnetic MCs: Pluckin’ Cards
22. Freddie Foxxx: Crazy Like a Foxxx
23. Percee P & Ekim: Now They Wanna See Me
24. Robbie B & DJ Jazz: Comin’ Correct
25. AMG: Trunk of Funk
26. Zhigge: Toss It Up
27. Public Enemy: Brothers Gonna Work It Out RMX
28. Public Enemy: Brothers Gonna Work It Out
29. Von Love: This Is How It Should Be Done
30. Choice M.C.: This Is the B-Side feat. Chill Phill & MC Sergio
31. Ol Dirty Bastard: Cuttin’ Headz feat. the RZA
32. Wu-Tang Clan: Clan In Da Front
33. Naughty by Nature: Yoke the Joker
34. Ghostface Killah: The Champ
35. Funk Lab All-Stars: La Da Da
36. Digital Underground: Tie the Knot
37. Too $hort: Hoes
38. EPMD: Mr. Bozack
39. De La Soul: Stone Age
40. Coolio: I Remember feat. J-Ro & Billy Boy
41. Method Man: All I Need
42. Scarface: Murder by Reason of Insanity
43. Eazy E: Eazy Street
44. Gang Starr: Code of the Streets
45. New Style: Drop the Bomb
46. C.E.B.: Get the Point
47. Brotha Lynch Hung: 24 Deep
48. Melvin Bliss: Synthetic Substitution
This is a quick and incomplete update as I’ve been running around and had one of the busiest weekends in a while. But, I try not to neglect the scheduled Breakbeat Tuesday cause I know a lot of folks check for it on a regular basis. Well, this week we’re starting the first ever guest appearance of Breakbeat Tuesday – something that a lot of people have asked about doing and I have a lineup of writers in the cue. With no further hesitation, it is my honour, as an honourary Canadian, to present the first extra special guest – Skratch Bastid. The Bastid is a good homie, and for my money, one of the best DJs in the word, no question.
When he got with me to collaborate on a 4 turntable project in his Toronto home I jumped at the chance. Working on a whole bunch of of tightly scripted routines we’re fin to take the 2X4 game to the next level for the one night only appearance, this Friday at The Drake in T-Dot. That also is going to be my birthday so you know it’s going to be fun for me no matter what. So when he said he wanted to contribute a BBT in conjunction with the Friday show we’re doing together, it made perfect sense. So here you are, the first ever guest, Breakbeat Tuesday, as told to you by the one and only… Skratch Bastid:
These are 3 songs that I think have perfect breakbeats. My favorite types of breakbeats are ones that leave a lot of options for a DJ to cut doubles of them. Beats that become a song themselves inside of their original composition. I think that’s what makes the concept of breaking and sampling so interesting: a certain part of the record can spawn whole new songs or ideas when rearranged. Long breaks that have simple yet interesting changes provide a lot of choices for DJs that want to create something new out of an existing song. Of course, it’s always a trip to hear bugged out moments of greatness on unsuspecting records, but there’s more value in a break that you can enjoy for more than 5 seconds. Songs that are actually dope in their entirety and that a listener can enjoy from front to back, but which a DJ can rearrange the best parts of to make their own on-the-fly edit of the song.
Most of the songs on the Ultimate Breaks & Beats series fall into that category, and one of my favorites off of those records is “Funky Music Is The Thing” by The Dynamic Corvettes (Abet, 1975). Released on 7″ in 2 parts, it’s a Sly & The Family Stone-ish ode to good music, punctuated by horns, vocal harmonies, and a heavy beat. The b-side opens up into a big 30 second break half way through the side, drums pounding, fuzz guitar wailing, and the greatest cowbell player known to man doing their thing. Heavy. A lot of fun to loop. Steinski, Twin Hype & JVC Force all had fun with it, but from a production tip you gotta love how the king Mantronix freaked it and recreated it on Just-Ice’s “Cold Getting Dumb”. Here’s an extended mp3 of Parts 1 & 2 pieced together.
A similar break is Booker T & The MGs’ “Grab Bag”, off their album “Universal Language”. The band behind the bulk of Stax’s early success. Without question one of the best rhythm sections ever. This album kind of sucks, though. When I first started buying records, I skipped through this album quickly and passed over this track entirely. Not long ago, my homie Birdapres sat me down to listen to this track and I was shocked to hear this. Pretty much the saving grace of the album. This is a really dope beat to break. The guitar/bass melody lead-in into the drums lends itself to different patterns. You can hear it in the chorus of Big Daddy Kane’s “Set It Off.”
The last record contains one of those breaks that is satirically long. Compared to your average song, you could say that the above two breaks pretty lengthy. It’s a lot to ask the band to shut up for more than a few bars to let the drums go for dolo. It’s gotta stay interesting somehow. But by the time the disco era hit, it would seem that fans/dancers were a little more accustom to hearing beats and grooves on their own and in a more drawn out arrangement. What happens in the last 4:30 of The New York Community Choir’s “Express Yourself” 12″ takes the length of a ‘break’ to a whole ‘nother level. The bass and singing fade out and the drums ride out solo into one of the tightest ‘straight-ahead’ disco breaks I’ve ever heard. It speaks for itself, and takes it’s time while doing so. Listen.
Enjoy! Try them out. Get busy. Shouts out to Cosmo for setting off the nerdery and for the guest spot. I’m out. -Skratch Bastid
Thanks, Bastid for doing that for the site and thanks to everyone who took the time to read that. One of the things about the whole BBT thing on this site is emphasizing the personal connection and significance of these records, so it’s nice and refreshing to get someone else’s perspective. And don’t forget that me and Skratch Bastid will be performing our 2X4 set at The Drake this coming Friday, which is also my birthday, so even if you have to steal a car to get there, you better be in the house.
DJ Stuart "Re-Work V2"
Wet "All The Ways" (Branchez Remix)
De La Soul "Beautiful Night"
With You "Ghost" feat. Vince Staples (Major Lazer Remix)
Tall Black Guy "The Heart Of The Town"
KRNE "I'll Be Good"
Drake "With You" Feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR
Christopher Cross "Ride Like The Wind" (Joey Negro Dub Disco Mix)
BAKERS DOZEN BONUS
Club Cheval "Discipline"
Mura Masa "What If I Go"
Kate Bush "Why Should I Love You?"