Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sample Set #167

Another day another sample set for a Compton emcee's album. Set #167 takes a look at Game's debut LP, The Documentary, which was essentially the soundtrack to my senior year at high school. The album's first single, "Westside Story", was released on September 28th, 2004. Between that September, well into the Summer of '05, four more singles were released: "How We Do", "Hate It or Love It", "Dreams" and "Put You on the Game". To this day I still wish Aftermath had sprung and given "Higher" the single treatment too, but oh well.

Around the time of The Documentary's release, the West Coast hadn't fallen off the map entirely. Nate Dogg was still doing his thing. DPG was popping. Nonetheless, the South was absolutely dominating the airwaves at the time, with hits by T.I., Ciara, Lil Jon, Trick Daddy, Lil Flip, Juvenile and OutKast and Petey Pablo and Ludacris and... okay, a lot of people from the South. At the same time, the Bay Area was holding it down for the Golden State with the bubbling Hyphy Movement (which later burst onto the national landscape in 2006 with hits by E-40, Mistah F.A.B. and more). Down in SoCal, besides hearing Snoop Dogg "Drop It Like It's Hot" with Pharrell or describe life's "Ups & Downs" with the Bee Gees (yes, the Bee Gees), hip hop music from L.A. was drier than a long-lost stash of dro. Guerilla Black was the alternative at the time. Yes, Guerilla Black. But The Documentary changed all that. It wasn't simply Game's music that reinvigorated Los Angeles hip hop: it was his image. It was the Chevys and the Locs. It was the fact that rags and gang affiliation were a conversation piece once again. It was also the fact that G-Unit had become a movement in New York City, and that energy was being funneled back to the West from whence it came by the architect/bankroller of 50 Cent's crossover success, Dr. Dre. 50 Cent over the good ol' Doc's beats spawned some smash hits ("In Da Club"; "If I Can't"), but the chemistry between Game and Dre, children of Compton, produced a unique, sonic potency of hometown-centrism.

With all that being said, The Documentary is not entirely West Coast-oriented. Game actually managed to capture an even more L.A.-centric sound - without Dr. Dre mind you(!) - on his sophomore LP, Doctor's Advocate. The Documentary features production from all corners of the map by beatsmiths like Hi-Tek, Just Blaze, Havoc, Kanye West and more. You can hear it in the samples too, from Timbaland's Hindi-based aesthetics to Kanye West's crates of soul (yeah, I miss those days). Quite possibly my favorite sample here is Hanson's "Down Into the Magic", reworked by Dr. Dre & Che Vicious for the album's thirty-two second long intro. Stop what you're thinking. I'm not talking about those boys who sang "MMMBop" in the 90s. I'm actually referring to a short-lived UK band from the 1970s led by Jamaican-born guitarist and singer (and Bob Marley & the Wailers member) Junior Marvin. I'm especially thrilled by this sample because it took me weeks to find. But I got it. The liner notes credit a Donald Kerr for the sample. For days I searched for the missing track by said artist "Donald Kerr." No luck. Who is Donald Kerr? Junior Marvin; born name Donald Hanson Marvin Kerr Richards Jr. Got 'em. That's the good news.

The bad news is this set is missing a vital component: the sample used on "Church for Thugs", a Just Blaze-produced track. A year or so ago, Blaze was talking shit and premiering previously-unreleased Saigon tracks on his Ustream page. He was also taking questions from the chat box. I asked him if he'd ever reveal the "Church for Thugs" sample. His answer, for the sake of brevity, was "no." The mystery lives on - at least until Bronco of The-Breaks figures it out. In the meantime, here's my incomplete-but-still-damn-good sample set for Game's debut LP. Enjoy... and turn it up!!