LABI SIFFRE / “I Got The”
Last October, in a post about Labi Siffre’s anthem “So Strong,” Kalamu happened to mention another Labi Siffre record. That record is "I Got The" (available on The Music Of Labi Siffre ) and it’s a monster. Kalamu noted correctly that “I Got The” had been sampled by Enimem and others, but it isn’t the piano hook that people sample (frankly, I don’t even hear the piano), it’s the monstrous drum and bass break that separates part one of the tune from part two. It’s true, hip-hop people tend to love this record for that strange feeling of familiarity they get upon hearing a well-known sample loop in an unfamiliar setting, but “I Got The” is a great piece of music its own right, sampling or no. Labi’s record starts off sounding like a dead-ringer for another wah-wah and funky-bass classic, The Meters’ “Just Kissed My Baby.” If Labi had simply rode out that initial funk for three or four minutes, he’d have had a good record. But unsatisfied with mere goodness, he goes for outright greatness. Two minutes in, he drops everything out, leaving just the drums and bass. Breaks are great in general, but this particular break is a winner among winners. (It’s a winner even if you, like me, have a hard time getting Eminem’s stupid chorus out of your mind every time it plays.) Gradually, Labi builds the groove back up, adding percussion, guitar, keyboards, and finally, strings. When he sings again, it’s as if a new song has started. Before the break, he uses the same ‘Soul Brother In Love’ tone we already know and love from any number of R&B Hits of The Seventies compilations. But following the break, his tone is much more conflicted—Labi sounds both ecstatic and regretful as he sings in soaring tones: “I was smiling hard / But I was lying / Then you sailed along….you stole my heart.” And by the way, to answer the unspoken question in the title, the missing word is ‘blues.’ What man has got is the blues. —Mtume ya Salaam Bonus track: “Just Kissed My Baby” – The Meters – from Rejuvenation(1974). Note that “Kissed My Baby” has been put through the sample wringer as well, most notably, Public Enemy used the wah-wah guitars as the basis for their 1987 album track and b-side “Timebomb.” funky reggae Good god, Mtume, you done stepped in it nah! Yall know we have not been dropping so so much New Orleans music on yall out of respect for all the other stuff, but now, Mtume has made a connection I’m not sure he was knowing he was making. You see, what had happened was, Mtume had went and dug up the track that one of our listeners pointed to in response to the Althea & Donna track from last week. And so Mtume was enthusing to me as to how the Alton Ellis track whose rhythm the sisters had used, how that Ellis track was not only hip but in fact Alton had recorded it twice and the sisters took the rhythm from the second time. And Mtume asked me, say baba, what if we do the Alton Ellis for the classic. And I said, yeah you right, that sounds good to me. So I was in Dallas, see, and Mtume was in New Orleans for a minute (and no, we wasn’t in the same place together at any time cause I left New Orleans a day or so before he got here, and he left New Orleans a day or so before I got back), so here it is Saturday night, I'm back in New Orleans and I’m downloading the stuff to post up on BoL, and low and behold Mtume did a switcheroo on me and dropped this Labi Siffre track and then makes reference to the Meters. So I say, hmmmm, this some interesting stuff. The Labi Siffre is wonderfully funky, but that damn Meters track, that’s a whole other level of funk. They can’t sing no where near as good as Labi, but funk ain’t really about singing (ask James Brown, he’ll tell you). Now here comes the connection. I was listening to that Meters groove and all of a sudden it hit me like a ton of St.Joseph’s bricks (you know them red ones, red like the freckles on a seventh ward chile’s face!). I said to myself, oh shit, that’s a reggae groove. A what? (I know that most of yall don’t fully understand what I’m talking about yet, but just hang with me a second, I hope to make it plain.) Me and Mtume had been talking about the bass and drum reggae groove and how the cats lock into it and just ride it like a twenty-something-year-old couple making love all night long. Well! Well! What I’m talking about is that reggae was directly influenced by New Orleans music. They used to pick up the radio station out of New Orleans over in Jamaica and they put some of that in their music. Well, you see, The Meters is all of that, so what we have here is a success not only in communicating but also in transforming basic funk to reggae funk and afro-British funk (funk do get around!). So Labi he take it in one direction and them reggae cats they take it in another direction, but it is all rhythm-based, groove music, which is not only the essence of funk but is also the mighty, mighty hand The Meters fan with. Which all lead me to drop another example on you of that rhythm funk, this one here is from Mr. Bill Withers, “Kissing My Love.” Notice that both Siffre and Withers use strings in their funk and all three of these songs be talking about kissing. The many manifestations of funk. Oh, what a beautiful sound. Can you hear me now?!! —Kalamu ya Salaam
This entry was posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2006 at 2:38 am and is filed under Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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