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Dedicated students of ’90s hip-hop revere and revel in the soul sample chop. (For those illiterate in hip-hop speak, chopping is when a sample is cut into pieces to be used instrumentally in a track, with the chunks rearranged according to the composer’s grand plan.) Not only is Ohio hip-hop artist Blueprint a rap scholar, he’s also resolved to pay homage to hip-hop’s masters on each of his releases.
If the highest honor in hip-hop is respect, it’s probably time to bestow some on Blueprint, who many recognize best as an RJD2 collaborator in the duo Soul Position, from the rap group Greenhouse Effect or possibly from his guest appearance on “Here I Am,” a track on local hip-hop group Solillaquists of Sound’s The 4th Wall. Blueprint’s latest album, Respect the Architect, finds him emulating ’90s hip-hop elite and tinkering with classic soul songs. His soul sample chops comprise nearly all of the production on this offering, with little else to tamp down his flow.
Blueprint’s songs hit hard, but not in the way you’d necessarily expect. On tracks like “Perspective,” he pleads on behalf of empathy over a diced chorus of soul singers, citing multiple recent headline-making tragedies like Sandy Hook and juxtaposing these with the thoughtlessness of a casual Facebook whine. Political hip-hop/conscious rap doesn’t dominate the entire album, though; just check the title track if you’re seeking a little more ego in your anthem.
We asked the Architect what his five favorite soul songs were to sample, and if his enthusiastic effort to contribute to the venerable hip-hop canon isn’t apparent yet, it soon will be:
The Honey Drippers – “Impeach the President”
The “Impeach the President” drum break is easily my favorite drum break of all time. The snare cracks and is crispy enough to pull out and use with any beat; the high hats are clean; and the kick drums punch like no other drum break I’ve ever heard. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore. If I didn’t think people would get tired of it, I would use “Impeach the President” at least once on every album I release.
Skull Snaps – “It’s a New Day”
The timing and swing on this drum break is perfection. If the record wasn’t so impossible to find, I would suggest every record collector own a copy of this. But since it’s so pricey, I suggest getting your hands on the MP3.
Melvin Bliss – “Synthetic Substitution”
This song is incredible by itself – so great that you can just listen to it over and over again without even thinking about sampling it. But where’s the fun in that? There are just too many parts of this song that have been sampled already, and sampled well. From the piano loop to the drum break to the vocal samples – it’s all been done before. Yet, there are still a few spots in this song that I’m sure could be freaked even more creatively.
James Brown – “Funky Drummer”
No list of soul samples in hip-hop would be complete without giving tribute to the most sampled artist in hip-hop, James Brown. Clyde Stubblefield’s drums are unmistakable, and personally, I think it should be a requirement that anybody calling themselves a hip-hop producer chop this drum break up at least once. Even though it’s been used thousands of times, there are still creative ways to flip it.
Betty Wright – “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do”
The horns on this joint were most famously used by Beyoncé on “Upgrade U,” but the rest of the song was surprisingly left untouched. That’s where I come in. I started with the horn sample but used really small chops from other parts of the song to create my track “True Vision.” It took quite a while to get it to sound right, but it’s one of those beats that make me really proud.
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