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iCrate Diggers: Week #009 by DJ IllSkill
iCrate Diggers: Week #009

The Dells – “Love Is Blue (I Can Sing a Rainbow)” (1969)

In hip hop, new and edgy usually earns you a top spot, provided your music's dope! With leaps and bounds being made in technology, its more difficult for producers to stand out amongst the crowd of fad followers. Today's market doesn't preach innovation and/or individuality, but rather quick singles and easy publishing. 2007 marked the emergence of an unknown west coast rooted MC with little to no buzz. Despite being from California, "Blu" as he's known, is reminiscent of a Nas in his younger years. Nas's debut "iLLmatic" is considered one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. But the formula of grabbing all the hottest producers in the
game, doesn't always ensure a classic album.

"but Nas told'em it was mines right before halftime"


"Below the Heavens" is considered a classic by many, but in these days and times of digital music, only 3500 CD's were actually pressed up. Therefore, I've seen a sealed copy go for around $150. Its one of the few albums in the recent years of hip hop that's true to the roots. By that, I'm referring to a projects body of work thats created by 1 MC and 1 Producer. You can call it the 2007 Guru and Primo, Pete and CL, Show and AG, Common and No ID, etc. Albums with 1 vision usually sound like a cohesive project rather than 8 producers all stepping in their own direction. "Below The Heavens" producer Exile's most notable "major" placement was on the 2006 Mobb deep album Blood Money, for the track "Pearly Gates". One half of the group Emanon (the other half being Aloe Blacc) Exile has also produced for Jurassic 5, Snoop, and Kardinal Offishall. I find his style very eclectic at times and is very reminiscent of the late J Dilla.

The opening track to "Below The Heavens" starts off with a Joni Mitchell sample of the MC's name "Blu" and drops into a suspenseful soul driven orchestra of fire. What makes this flip a great use of the sample, is that its relevant to the artist whose spitting over the beat. "I Can Sing a Rainbow" has a vocal section of the MC's name..."Blu". Exile layered the vocals "Blu, my world is Blu" on top of the beat which is just plain dope!! He also filtered out the bass line and made it sound extremely thick and heavy. For those who aren't familiar with Exile, he's nasty when drumming live on the MPC.

The Dells, despite not having been sampled by many hip hop artists have been around for OVER 50 years. The rhythm and blues / soul / jazz group came together in the 1950's and still record music to this day, which I find that pretty rare given the state of today's music industry! In the 60's they toured with Ray Charles and recorded several hits that made the billboard charts. After years of opening for several acts, it wasn't until the late 60's till the Dells career took off. They've been with over 10 different labels throughout the 50 years. "I Can Sing Over A Rainbow" was released in 1969 and the song made it to #22 on the US pop charts.

2006, 37 years after their hit, Lewis Parker sampled "I Can Sing Over A Rainbow" for Ghostface's "Shakey Dog". As both Lewis Parker and Exile used the same section, the horns make for a suspenseful backdrop, as charismatic Ghost describes the scene of a suspenseful tale of a NY robbery gone wrong. Parker, added these tiny little drum rolls throughout the track that add flavor. My favorite part is how Parker controlled the action of Ghost's story telling by moving from just the strings and horns, into a vocal chop of "ahhhhhhh, NO WHERE TO GO-BABEEEE!!". It definitely added a lot of momentum, and for me, that really makes the track. "Shakey Dog" isvone of Parker's biggest productions to date despite his own catalog of underground hits. Lewis is a somewhat of a "underground" veteran of the game, as is Exile. Check out their debut albums, Lewis Parker's Masquerades & Silhouettes and Exile's Radio.

Both Exile and Parker use vintage hardware. Exile on his MPC and Parker is known for using the SP 1200, made famous by the 1 and only Pete Rock as well as countless others, Large Professor, etc. Despite the fact that both producers sampled the same piece of music, both tracks have a certain context each their own. Another rendition of this sample be heard in the choosing of a beat in the studio with Joell Ortiz and Corey Gunz.

Lastly RIP to Killa Sha (Prince AD) of the group the Killa Kids from Queens. A QB vet, one of the underrated spitters from Queens, Sha passed away early this morning from his battle with Diabetes. Check out a Sha-Lumi interview over at UnKut. Once again RIP. Check back for another sample as we return in 2 weeks! Questions or comments get at me @KoolPapaiLL

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