WILLIE HUTCH / “I Choose You”

Over in this week’s Contemporary post, I talked about ‘soul beats,’ a style of hip-hop production for which the producer loops not just the drum breaks of a soul or R&B record, but the melodic elements as well. In this post, I’ll give a brief breakdown of the various soul tracks that this week’s Contemporary tunes were based on. gladys knight & the pips.jpg Gladys Knight & The Pips – “Try To Remember/The Way We Were” (Live) – Originally from I Feel A Song (Buddah - 1974); Available on Love Finds Its Own Way: The Best Of Gladys Knight & The Pips (Sony/Legacy - 2007) This song has a convoluted history. First off, it’s actually a medley of two songs, one from a hit film (“The Way We Were,” which was a song from the 1973 film of the same name), the other from a Broadway show (the lyrics of the spoken intro come from the Broadway show called The Fantasticks). It’s lucky for we hip-hop fans that Gladys decided to do the song as a medley, because Wu-Tang ended up sampling parts of both songs. “The Way We Were” is also a remake. Barbara Streisand (who starred in the movie) originally sang the tune and had a number one pop hit with it. I know my description makes the song sound like a shlock-fest, and truthfully, it is a little corny. But there’s something about reminiscing on those elusive ‘good old days’ that’s hard to resist. stylistics 01.jpg The Stylistics – “You’re A Big Girl Now” – From The Stylistics (Amherst - 1971) “You’re A Big Girl Now” is one of the lesser-known songs from The Stylistics’ debut album, an album which includes numerous soul classics including “Betcha By Golly, Wow,” “Stop, Look, Listen,” “You Are Everything” and the massive “People Make The World Go Round.” At first, I only listened to “You’re A Big Girl Now” because it was funny to hear that music playing without Ghost ranting and raving over the top of it. But after a while, I really started digging it on its own merits. That’s actually one of the best things about sampling: that it gets rap fans to listen to all sorts of things they’d never listen to otherwise. willie hutch 02.jpg Willie Hutch - “I Choose You” – From The Mack Soundtrack (Motown - 1973) I love Willie Hutch. His shit is so cinematic. So many of his records, from “Tell Me Why Our Love Has Turned Cold” to “Brother’s Gonna Work It Out” to “Ain’t That (Mellow Mellow)” have such a big, epic feel to them. At the same time though, Willie’s records never fail to give the listener that real down-to-earth feel that epitomizes classic soul. “I Choose You” is a selection from that much-loved (in hip-hop circles, at least) ode to Oakland pimping, The Mack. Strangely, for a record taken from a film all about macking and pandering, Willie’s lyrics are highly romantic and heartfelt. dennis brown 04.jpg Dennis Brown – “Here I Come” – Originally released as a single. Available on Money In My Pocket: Anthology 1971 To 1995. Like Willie Hutch, Dennis Brown is a prolific yet underrated music veteran that I dig a lot. I should specify though, that the ‘underrated’ label only applies to Dennis’ reputation outside of his home country of Jamaica. There, he’s known as ‘The Crown Prince of Reggae.’ He’s also known for being Bob Marley’s all-time favorite singer. If you’re interested in learning more about Dennis’ music though, you have to proceed with caution. In later years, Dennis was saddled with a serious drug problem and ended up re-recording and releasing inferior versions of many of his hit records, and some more than once. If you want to score a range of Dennis’ original hits, the Money In My Pocket compilation is a good place to start. patti & the blue belles.jpeg Patti Labelle & The Blue Belles – “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – Originally released in 1964. Available on The Best Of The Early Years (Hip-O, 1999) I was all set to talk about how stirring Patti’s performance of this gospel classic was when I got a call from Kalamu telling me I was way off base. I did a little checking and realized how right he was. I was waaaay off in thinking this one was a gospel tune. (It’s actually a Broadway song.) Not only that, Patti Labelle was never in a group named ‘The Labelles.’ She was a member of The Blue Belles, and later, she was a member of a trio named Labelle. I guess I mixed the two names and came up with a new name all my own. Anyway, the only thing you really need to know about this record is something you can hear for yourself, and that’s Patti Labelle’s voice. Pure power, baby. —Mtume ya Salaam Ancestor Worship         The more things change…. Out of Africa always something new, and that something new always comes from the root. Y’all can call it what you want, but recognize or not, the cultural imperative to dig our roots is working in spades with hip hop. It’s not just sampling, as this week makes clear. It’s not just using a hook. It’s moving into the sacred circle of reverence for ‘from whence we came.’ —Kalamu ya Salaam

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 19th, 2007 at 3:00 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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