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Hip Hop for Beatles fans
17 February 2015
1.00pm
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The Walrus
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Hip hop is great! Unfortunately, for whatever reason, rock fans and older people often don't get into it. Maybe they've heard a lot of Eminem and think everyone is that pointlessly offensive; maybe they've heard NWA and think the genre hasn't progressed since the 80s; maybe they've heard Lil Wayne and think everyone is boring. That couldn't be further from the truth - there's a wide variety of sounds, subjects and styles in hip hop, and it's beginning to catch up with rock in terms of volume of great music produced each year.

So, without further ado, here are five hip-hop records you should love if you are a Beatles fan:

If you like "Revolution ", "Gimme Some Truth ", and "Looking For Changes", try:

Run The Jewels 2 coverImage Enlarger

Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2 (2014)

Run The Jewels is a duo comprised of Killer Mike and El-P (Michael Render and Jaime Meline). El-P is a fantastic producer, which makes the songs easier to listen to if you love melody and complex structures. Moreover, Mike in particular is incredible knowledgeable about politics and racism. There are songs on here about the Prison-Industrial complex (with a Kanye West diss thrown in for good measure), racial police brutality, and unaccountable puppeteers letting Donald Sterling take the flack for them. Zack De La Roche and Gangsta Boo provide stellar feature verses, and Ikey Owens (RIP) plays some fantastic keys. Best of all, it is available for free.

Best song: "Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)"

Next, try: R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike; Cancer4Cure by El-P

If you like psychedelia and love songs, try:

Acid Rap coverImage Enlarger

Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap (2013)

This is incredible. It scares me that most of this was made when he was 19 (my age), without any help from a record label. His previous mixtape, 10 Day, was made when Chance was suspended from school for ten days and needed something to do! Acid Rap is much better though. Chance clearly knows his jazz and funk. There are songs about Chicago's social issues ("Paranoia"), and social commentary runs throughout, but this generally isn't a political album. Like The Beatles's stuff, it's principally about love, drugs, and friendship. Oh, and it's also free - Chance earns his money from touring.

Best songs: "Good Ass Intro", "Acid Rain ", "That's Love", "Pusha Man/Paranoia" (it's hard to pick just one)

Next, try: Vic Mensa's Innanetape; A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory; Kanye West's The College Dropout; and Flying Lotus' You're Dead!

If you like George Harrison , try:

The Miseducation of Lauryn HillImage Enlarger

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

Older posters might remember that this won a Grammy. Lauryn Hill found fame with Fugees; she secured her status as the greatest female rapper of all time with this spiritual soul-rap record that mediates on both love and God 's relationship with his people. Probably the best rap album of the 90s, even if it is a bit long.

Best song: "Forgive Them Father"

Next, try: Shabazz Palaces - Black Up; Fugees - The Score; Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy; Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE (this one is very unlucky not to be getting a write-up of its own - probably better than all these albums bar the last one)

If you like a goofy sense of humour, check out:

Danger Doom - The Mouse and the MaskImage Enlarger

DangerDoom - The Mouse and the Mask (2005)

MF Doom is the king of underground hip hop. DangerMouse is one of the most highly rated producers of the 00s - you may remember him from records such as the Beatles-Jay Z mashup The Grey Album, Gnarls Barkley's St Elsewhere, and Gorillaz's Demon Days. This isn't the best record by either artist, but it's Doom's most accessible, and I really like the skits taken from old cartoons (very Hard Day's Night). Doom has one of the strongest catalogues in rap and this is probably a better jumping on point than his very best record, Madvillainy.

Best song: "Benzie Box"

Essential MF Doom records: Madvillain - Madvillainy; MF Doom - Mm... Food; Viktor Vaughan - Vaudeville Villain

... and although it isn't strictly hip hop, Demon Days is a truly great record that will introduce you to many rappers, as will Gorillaz's next record, Plastic Beach.

Finally, if you just love great music and high-concept albums with complex arrangements (i.e. Rubber Soul to Abbey Road ), you absolutely must listen to:

The least offensive My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy coverImage Enlarger

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

This is, hands down, the best hip hop record ever. Kanye tried to "make a perfect record". He succeeded. The layered vocals, the strings, the brass, Justin Vernon and Elton John... this would stand very well even without rap vocals on it.

But it does have some serious spitting. Attention is normally given to a couple of featured verses - Nicki Minaj on "Monster", Cyhi The Prince on "So Appalled" - and rightly so, because both of those verses are the best thing either of those artists have ever done - but Kanye also goes in really hard on songs like "Gorgeous", "Power", "Monster", and "So Appalled". Every track has something incredible to recommend, usually both musically and lyrically. There's politics, there's humour, there's grandiose declarations of undying love, there are contributions from great poets like Gil Scott Heron and Shawn Carter. Did I mention Justin Vernon is all over this thing?

Honestly, this stands up to the best that classic and indie rock have to offer. It isn't Revolver , but it is definitely on a par with, say, Led Zeppelin 4, or The Dark Side Of The Moon, or Plastic Ono Band.

Best songs: "Dark Fantasy", "Power", "All Of The Lights", "Monster", "Runaway", "Lost In The World"...

Next: erm, there aren't any records quite like this. Your best bets are Jay Z's The Black Album, Kid Cudi's Man On The Moon series, and Kanye's earlier stuff.

 

And now, a brief selection of great records that didn't quite fit anywhere else:

- Kendrick Lamar - good kid, M.A.A.D. city (widely considered the second best rap album of the last five years; third best if you count channel ORANGE)

- Nas - Illmatic (hip hop's Sgt Pepper )

- GZA - Liquid Swords

- The Notorious BIG (Biggie Smalls) - Ready To Die

- Freddie Gibbs and Madlib - Pinata (if you like Madvillainy...)

- Young Fathers - DEAD

- Anything by OutKast or Big Boi

 

Bam! Well done if you read all of that. I'd love to know what you thought (particularly if you listened to any of them for the first time), and I'd love to get any recommendations from any other hip hop heads.

The following people thank The Walrus for this post:

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And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time

17 February 2015
1.06pm
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Starr Shine?
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The Walrus said

Finally, if you just love great music and high-concept albums with complex arrangements (i.e. Rubber Soul to Abbey Road ), you absolutely must listen to:

The least offensive My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy coverImage Enlarger

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

This is, hands down, the best hip hop record ever. Kanye tried to "make a perfect record". He succeeded. The layered vocals, the strings, the brass, Justin Vernon and Elton John... this would stand very well even without rap vocals on it.

But it does have some serious spitting. Attention is normally given to a couple of featured verses - Nicki Minaj on "Monster", Cyhi The Prince on "So Appalled" - and rightly so, because both of those verses are the best thing either of those artists have ever done - but Kanye also goes in really hard on songs like "Gorgeous", "Power", "Monster", and "So Appalled". Every track has something incredible to recommend, usually both musically and lyrically. There's politics, there's humour, there's grandiose declarations of undying love, there are contributions from great poets like Gil Scott Heron and Shawn Carter. Did I mention Justin Vernon is all over this thing?

Honestly, this stands up to the best that classic and indie rock have to offer. It isn't Revolver , but it is definitely on a par with, say, Led Zeppelin 4, or The Dark Side Of The Moon, or Plastic Ono Band.

Best songs: "Dark Fantasy", "Power", "All Of The Lights", "Monster", "Runaway", "Lost In The World"...

I heard All Of The Lights and liked it. Have you seen the movie Runaway?

https://youtu.be/52nwiTs7bk8

Brainwashed by RadiantCowbells.

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17 February 2015
3.19pm
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The Walrus
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"All Of The Lights" is fantastic (despite that dreadful verse from Fergie - how did Kanye let that stay on there?). If you liked that then definitely try "Dark Fantasy" and "Lost In The World", which are the others with big choral arrangements (and Justin Vernon).

I haven't seen the "Runaway" film. I must admit, I've generally been left cold by the visual side of music. I don't really watch music videos.

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time

17 February 2015
4.35pm
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Joe
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Thanks, @The Walrus. Lots to consider here. I've heard some of the albums you mentioned (Lauryn Hill, DangerDoom) but my knowledge of rap isn't very broad. I generally know the big acts (Eminem, Jay-Z) and old school 80s stuff. I have the first two or three Kanye albums but I'm not really a fan, and I've never heard MBDTF.

This thread is crying out for a Spotify playlist.

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17 February 2015
4.41pm
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a-hard-days-night-ringo-8 Just wow, @thewalrus!  That original post is such a solid piece of work: informative, well-documented, annotated and entertaining. This kind of scholarship is the very best feature of the Forum, imho.  By way of example, I was engaged by your post even though I really don't care about rap music at all (I did love The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, though--so melodically beautiful).  Anyway, apple01apple01apple01

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I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did'.
Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake, 1997

17 February 2015
6.14pm
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Sun King
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The Walrus said
Hip hop is great! Unfortunately, for whatever reason, rock fans and older people often don't get into it. Maybe they've heard a lot of Eminem and think everyone is that pointlessly offensive; maybe they've heard NWA and think the genre hasn't progressed since the 80s; maybe they've heard Lil Wayne and think everyone is boring. That couldn't be further from the truth - there's a wide variety of sounds, subjects and styles in hip hop, and it's beginning to catch up with rock in terms of volume of great music produced each year.

So, without further ado, here are five hip-hop records you should love if you are a Beatles fan:

If you like "Revolution ", "Gimme Some Truth ", and "Looking For Changes", try:

Run The Jewels 2 coverImage Enlarger

Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2 (2014)

Run The Jewels is a duo comprised of Killer Mike and El-P (Michael Render and Jaime Meline). El-P is a fantastic producer, which makes the songs easier to listen to if you love melody and complex structures. Moreover, Mike in particular is incredible knowledgeable about politics and racism. There are songs on here about the Prison-Industrial complex (with a Kanye West diss thrown in for good measure), racial police brutality, and unaccountable puppeteers letting Donald Sterling take the flack for them. Zack De La Roche and Gangsta Boo provide stellar feature verses, and Ikey Owens (RIP) plays some fantastic keys. Best of all, it is available for free.

Best song: "Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)"

Next, try: R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike; Cancer4Cure by El-P

If you like psychedelia and love songs, try:

Acid Rap coverImage Enlarger

Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap (2013)

This is incredible. It scares me that most of this was made when he was 19 (my age), without any help from a record label. His previous mixtape, 10 Day, was made when Chance was suspended from school for ten days and needed something to do! Acid Rap is much better though. Chance clearly knows his jazz and funk. There are songs about Chicago's social issues ("Paranoia"), and social commentary runs throughout, but this generally isn't a political album. Like The Beatles's stuff, it's principally about love, drugs, and friendship. Oh, and it's also free - Chance earns his money from touring.

Best songs: "Good Ass Intro", "Acid Rain ", "That's Love", "Pusha Man/Paranoia" (it's hard to pick just one)

Next, try: Vic Mensa's Innanetape; A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory; Kanye West's The College Dropout; and Flying Lotus' You're Dead!

If you like George Harrison , try:

The Miseducation of Lauryn HillImage Enlarger

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

Older posters might remember that this won a Grammy. Lauryn Hill found fame with Fugees; she secured her status as the greatest female rapper of all time with this spiritual soul-rap record that mediates on both love and God 's relationship with his people. Probably the best rap album of the 90s, even if it is a bit long.

Best song: "Forgive Them Father"

Next, try: Shabazz Palaces - Black Up; Fugees - The Score; Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy; Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE (this one is very unlucky not to be getting a write-up of its own - probably better than all these albums bar the last one)

If you like a goofy sense of humour, check out:

Danger Doom - The Mouse and the MaskImage Enlarger

DangerDoom - The Mouse and the Mask (2005)

MF Doom is the king of underground hip hop. DangerMouse is one of the most highly rated producers of the 00s - you may remember him from records such as the Beatles-Jay Z mashup The Grey Album, Gnarls Barkley's St Elsewhere, and Gorillaz's Demon Days. This isn't the best record by either artist, but it's Doom's most accessible, and I really like the skits taken from old cartoons (very Hard Day's Night). Doom has one of the strongest catalogues in rap and this is probably a better jumping on point than his very best record, Madvillainy.

Best song: "Benzie Box"

Essential MF Doom records: Madvillain - Madvillainy; MF Doom - Mm... Food; Viktor Vaughan - Vaudeville Villain

... and although it isn't strictly hip hop, Demon Days is a truly great record that will introduce you to many rappers, as will Gorillaz's next record, Plastic Beach.

Finally, if you just love great music and high-concept albums with complex arrangements (i.e. Rubber Soul to Abbey Road ), you absolutely must listen to:

The least offensive My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy coverImage Enlarger

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

This is, hands down, the best hip hop record ever. Kanye tried to "make a perfect record". He succeeded. The layered vocals, the strings, the brass, Justin Vernon and Elton John... this would stand very well even without rap vocals on it.

But it does have some serious spitting. Attention is normally given to a couple of featured verses - Nicki Minaj on "Monster", Cyhi The Prince on "So Appalled" - and rightly so, because both of those verses are the best thing either of those artists have ever done - but Kanye also goes in really hard on songs like "Gorgeous", "Power", "Monster", and "So Appalled". Every track has something incredible to recommend, usually both musically and lyrically. There's politics, there's humour, there's grandiose declarations of undying love, there are contributions from great poets like Gil Scott Heron and Shawn Carter. Did I mention Justin Vernon is all over this thing?

Honestly, this stands up to the best that classic and indie rock have to offer. It isn't Revolver , but it is definitely on a par with, say, Led Zeppelin 4, or The Dark Side Of The Moon, or Plastic Ono Band.

Best songs: "Dark Fantasy", "Power", "All Of The Lights", "Monster", "Runaway", "Lost In The World"...

Next: erm, there aren't any records quite like this. Your best bets are Jay Z's The Black Album, Kid Cudi's Man On The Moon series, and Kanye's earlier stuff.

 

And now, a brief selection of great records that didn't quite fit anywhere else:

- Kendrick Lamar - good kid, M.A.A.D. city (widely considered the second best rap album of the last five years; third best if you count channel ORANGE)

- Nas - Illmatic (hip hop's Sgt Pepper )

- GZA - Liquid Swords

- The Notorious BIG (Biggie Smalls) - Ready To Die

- Freddie Gibbs and Madlib - Pinata (if you like Madvillainy...)

- Young Fathers - DEAD

- Anything by OutKast or Big Boi

 

Bam! Well done if you read all of that. I'd love to know what you thought (particularly if you listened to any of them for the first time), and I'd love to get any recommendations from any other hip hop heads.

Not sure if I'd agree with that, it's a big claim. Amazing record, but there are better. Jay Z's 'Reasonable Doubt' for one is better as a hip-hop album in my opinion, as is 'illmatic'. Well done on the list though. 

17 February 2015
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Von Bontee
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I went through a bit of a hip-hop phase around 1992-94 - unfortunately my interest peaked around the time the music itself was changing. Lawyers started cracking down on songs that were built out of samples that weren't cleared, and it subsequently cost the artists a lot more, and so they quit overloading their tracks with identifiable bits of classic James Brown and Led Zeppelin and Ohio Players recordings, making them much less interesting for me to listen to. And of course now Kanye & T-Pain and many others are addicted to those Autotune effects, which I despise. My favourite rappers will always be Ice Cube (both with NWA and on his first three solo recs) and Roxanne Shante. As for more (relatively) recent stuff, Outkast, Eminem, and The Coup have all released albums I'd be happy to listen to when I'm in the mood for some hip-hop - which is very seldom, these days. I dunno, the stuff's everywhere now, and it seems like a little goes a long way.

 

Hip Hop for Beatles fans? Maybe try the Beastie Boys ' '89 masterpiece Paul's Boutique - several tracks are built on Beatles samples (Ringo drumbeats!), and the album closes with a huge medley that seems inspired by Abbey Road (and even the album cover was taken in the middle of the street.) (And no bloody autotune!)

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One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!"
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17 February 2015
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parlance
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This is the perfect thread to mention that my nephew posted this instrumental on his Facebook:

I thought it was interesting they'd named themselves after a Beatles song, so I looked them up on Wiki and found that Heltah Skeltah originally called themselves the Fab 5. They were discovered by Fab 5 Freddy, so it could be a clever double-play.

(BTW, I would post the version with singing, but it's got waaaaay too much of the N-word, and that's the primary reason I don't listen to much hip hop.)

parlance

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Von Bontee

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17 February 2015
11.23pm
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The Walrus
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Von Bontee said
 And of course now Kanye & T-Pain and many others are addicted to those Autotune effects, which I despise.

I don't think Kanye's use of it is any different do, say, ADT. "Blood On The Leaves" is one fantastic use (though I'm not keen on the juxtaposition of sample and lyrics), and the use of it on Keef and JV on "Hold My Liquor" is utterly spectacular.

Some explicitly chart-orientated artists don't use it in a creative way, but I do think people turn their noses up at it prematurely sometimes.

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time

18 February 2015
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Yep, that's me! I always turn up my nose and shut my ears. It's not HOW they use it that bothers me - it's just a sound that infuriates me no matter what, like rubbing a balloon or a whining child. I have no ideological objection to it, it's just a personal instinctive reaction. My problem, nobody else's. (It may have been Daft Punk's "One More Time" playing endlessly every day on the radio at the office a decade ago that sent me over the edge from annoyance to hatred.)

Anyways, enough negativity. One of my alltime favourite tracks in any genre (along with Public Enemy's massive (and Yoko namedropping!) "Bring The Noise") is this unstoppable Roxanne Shante offering. What a voice! The way she rides that funky drummer beat, punches every syllable in the chorus, only to relax and almost audibly grin while delivering the "...and have a nice day!" punchline...awesome.

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Someone said 'What were you gonna do when it's all finished,' and I said 'I don't know but it'd be good fun being a DJ.' And since then I've become a DJ, only by word of mouth, you know. SO any minute now you'll read, 'Ringo leaves to become a DJ' but it's not true. - Ringo Starr

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18 February 2015
12.38pm
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Joe
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@Von Bontee said
Hip Hop for Beatles fans? Maybe try the Beastie Boys ' '89 masterpiece Paul's Boutique - several tracks are built on Beatles samples (Ringo drumbeats!), and the album closes with a huge medley that seems inspired by Abbey Road (and even the album cover was taken in the middle of the street.) (And no bloody autotune!)

I'm not sure why I'd never heard this before today - I remember it getting so-so reviews upon release but growing in stature as the years passed. Anyway, I really like it, particularly Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun and Car Thief. Thanks for the tip.

Can buy me love! Please consider using these links to support the Beatles Bible: Amazon | iTunes
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18 February 2015
9.18pm
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Zig
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I'm not a huge fan of the genre but have heard songs that I liked - though I could not tell you the names of the songs/artisits cuz I just don't know.

Anyway, I just popped in to see wht this was all about. Imagine my delight at spotting the return of @The Walrus. Hello old friend - welcome back.apple01

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To the fountain of perpetual mirth, let it roll for all its worth. And all the children boogie.

18 February 2015
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vonbontee said
Yep, that's me! I always turn up my nose and shut my ears. It's not HOW they use it that bothers me - it's just a sound that infuriates me no matter what, like rubbing a balloon or a whining child. I have no ideological objection to it, it's just a personal instinctive reaction. My problem, nobody else's. (It may have been Daft Punk's "One More Time" playing endlessly every day on the radio at the office a decade ago that sent me over the edge from annoyance to hatred.)

Seriously, give this bad boy a try:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsgx7ZPSrfQ

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19 February 2015
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Haha, I actually OWN Yeezus, believe it or not! A friend recommended it, raving about its strangeness. And yeah I see what he (and you) were referring to - that's a strange track. I liked parts of it (especially the bit with the electronic pulse and the feedback sample - I swear that sample sounds familiar) and hated parts of it even more (the spoken/intro bits, and especially that bloody autotune!! Really, it's apparent that Kanye and other individuals are as in love with with that sound as I am repulsed by it), and parts of it reminded me of Pink Floyd circa Wish You Were Here/Animals. Definitely a weird one.

Someone said 'What were you gonna do when it's all finished,' and I said 'I don't know but it'd be good fun being a DJ.' And since then I've become a DJ, only by word of mouth, you know. SO any minute now you'll read, 'Ringo leaves to become a DJ' but it's not true. - Ringo Starr

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19 February 2015
1.03pm
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The Walrus
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There's only one credited sample.

Well, a lot of Kanye's stuff isn't going to be for you, but autotune is by no means pervasive in his music or hip-hop generally. His production style is very sample heavy - MBDTF contains samples from King Crimson and Black Sabbath (and autotuned Smokey Robinson...)

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19 February 2015
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Why would you autotune Smokey?

"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris) 

"Don't make your love suffer insecurities; Trade the baggage of 'self' to set another one free" ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)

19 February 2015
2.51pm
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Von Bontee
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Why autotune Smokey? A way of paying homage, I guess.

The Walrus said

There's only one credited sample.

Well, a lot of Kanye's stuff isn't going to be for you, but autotune is by no means pervasive in his music or hip-hop generally. His production style is very sample heavy - MBDTF contains samples from King Crimson and Black Sabbath (and autotuned Smokey Robinson.

Ice-T sampled "Black Sabbath" (the song) on his '89 album, but borrowing from King Crimson - that's a new one on me! "21st Century Schizoid Man", no doubt?

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!"
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19 February 2015
9.49pm
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meanmistermustard said
Why would you autotune Smokey?

So Rick Ross could rap over it.

Von Bontee said
Why autotune Smokey? A way of paying homage, I guess.

The Walrus said

There's only one credited sample.

Well, a lot of Kanye's stuff isn't going to be for you, but autotune is by no means pervasive in his music or hip-hop generally. His production style is very sample heavy - MBDTF contains samples from King Crimson and Black Sabbath (and autotuned Smokey Robinson.

Ice-T sampled "Black Sabbath" (the song) on his '89 album, but borrowing from King Crimson - that's a new one on me! "21st Century Schizoid Man", no doubt?

Yes:

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time

15 March 2015
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I like the classic white boy hiphop, the Beasties, Eminem, and an Australian band The Herd. There's quite a thriving Aussie hiphop scene now, once we got over the idea that Aussie accents are perfectly ok in hiphop (oh we couldn't admit we wanted to even DO hiphop for some stupid reason), but I like the Herd, because they're very cheeky like Beasties and keep it real Aussie style. They've been around for years now, here's a good track:

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