Saturday, August 1, 2009

Happy Birthday 'to' Me: 22 Two's

Another year, another birthday, just another number. Another sample set? Sort of. Courtesy of blog pals Dan Love and Thomas, I was finally able to get a hold of the sample used for Jay-Z’s “22 Two’s” from his debut (and best) album Reasonable Doubt. Since I’d be updating the set and re-posting it conspicuously on my 22nd birthday, I figured I’d run through all the tracks and see if everything was still holding up.

I reworked some of the mastering on the tracks and replaced some vinyl rips with better-quality MP3s I could track down. I also made a couple more edits to the tracklisting. First, I got rid of one of the Lonnie Liston Smith versions of “A Garden of Peace”. I had left two versions on the original release of the sample set since I wasn’t sure which one was sampled by Ski. But after a little more investigating, I learned that the version I needed was from Smith’s 1979 record Dreams of Tomorrow. So that’s one track in (John Kaizan Neptune’s “Blue Wind” – the sample for “22 Two’s) and one track out. But there was a little more work to be completed, and this one gave me a sigh of relief after it was all said and done.

If you recall, the original release of this set contained two tracks titled “Hey What’s That You Say?”, erroneously tagged (as ashamed as I am to admit it). “Hey What’s That You Say?”, a cover of the Skull Snaps’ “It’s a New Day”, was sampled for Jay’s “Friend or Foe”. The track which had been included in the original set (which was in fact the song sampled for “Friend or Foe”) was mistakenly credited to Wood, Brass & Steel. Wrong. I can now state with definitive certainty that the track that was sampled for “Friend or Foe” was by Brother to Brother. Now here’s where it gets kind of tricky. Both the Wood, Brass & Steel and Brother to Brother versions of “Hey What’s That You Say?” sound nearly identical in this regard: they’ve got the exact same backing track! The only thing that’s different is the lead singer. Here’s the Wood, Brass & Steel version of the song:

As you can tell, the introductory horn riff (which was sampled for “Friend or Foe”) is covered by some vocals. However, if you listen to the Brother to Brother version of the track (now proudly represented in the updated set), vocals are entirely absent from this period in the song. Just that lovely horn selection looped beneath Jay’s threatening bars! So long story short: all internet sample sites (ours included) which listed both the Wood, Brass & Steel and Brother to Brother versions as the sample(s) for “Friend or Foe” got it just half wrong, or half right. And now Hip Hop Is Read’s Reasonable Doubt sample set is one step closer to perfection. All we need now is the string sample for “Bring It On”…

And that’s “22 Two’s” for y’all… Yah’mean!?!? :D

How crazy is this:
By coincidence, Reasonable Doubt was our 22nd sample set!