November 18, 2009

The Last Days of Digi Stax



NPR recently chronicled the story of a sample - in this case, The Charmels' 1967 single "As Long As I've Got You" - which RZA copped for "C.R.E.A.M." on 1993's Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). That opening piano tinkle from the Stax house band (which often included Isaac Hayes or Booker T. and the M.G.'s) also marked the debut of RZA's most consistent influence - sweet Southern soul.

More than 15 years and 40 albums later, the two most prominent samples from RZA's Digi Snax hail back to 1969; The Tempations' Message From A Black Man, and "I Like It" from Stax staples The Emotions (who just finished their secular conversion from gospel act The Heavenly Sunbeams). Jonathan Kaslow, producer of Stax's The Soul of Hip Hop, said, "After 1969, things got much more interesting rhythmically. The BPM’s got to around 88 or 90…just the kind of tempos that would become perfect to rap to. And a lot of the beats that are sampled from Stax are just so perfect that they just loop it and do nothing else. They don’t have to layer it or anything. They’re perfect."

The beats might be right, but it appears the price is not. When Prefix asked RZA about samples from Digi Snax, he said: "I got mad records, but I didn’t even go through my records and do shit like that for the album...One, I’m a musician now myself, so I can create my own music. And two, the sample business is fucked up because they still haven’t met a standard of doing business. It’s like I do a song and you take 90 percent of my fuckin’ song when your track never even went gold and it’s about to go platinum. Until they get it right soon, I’ve declined on using samples lately."

That's a shame, especially considering what he did with these two:


The Emotions - I Like It (from So I Can Love You, 1969)


RZA - Don't Be Afraid (from Digi Snax, 2008)


The Tempations - Message From A Black Man (from Puzzle People, 1969)


RZA - You Cant Stop Me Now feat. Inspectah Deck (from Digi Snax)

Check out RZA's other classic soul samples on Shaolin Soul or The Soul of Hip Hop.

(pic via Soul Sides)

Other BT sample posts:
Messages From Black Men (Nas, Mos Def)
More Than U Know (Prince Paul, De La Soul)
You Never Knew (Hieroglyphics)
Since I Met You (Avalanches)
You Made A Believer Out of Me (Q-Tip)
3 Feet High and Rising (De La Soul)

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