Friday, October 31, 2014

ARKS presents Louder!

An all vinyl mix featuring the best of Kanye’s soul samples. Mixed by Australian beat digger and DJ extraordinaire Arks. Two turntables, 40+ records, 20 minutes. A tribute to the days when Kanye’s name in the production credits made an album or single worth checking out. Free Download! I’d been a fan Dug Infinite for his work on No I.D’s Black album and Common’s “One day…” LP. So when I heard about the Grav “Down to Earth” album, supposedly produced entirely by Dug and No I.D, I went on the hunt for a vinyl copy. I finally found a copy in a secondhand store, but was surprised to see that alongside one beat by No I.D, and three from Dug Infinite, three other names were credited with production for the rest of the album - Andy C, Steve Spapperi (RIP), and "Kanye". Despite the lack of No I.D beats, I was far from disappointed with the album, which is worth seeking out if you have yet to hear it. Although I'd been impressed by Kanye's beats, I still didn't really know who he was, and I had all but forgotten him a few years later when I read Soulman's review of Jay-Z "The Blueprint" on in 2001. Soulman wasn't as gushing as the Source had been (I still don't know that Blueprint deserved 5 mics), but he did mention that Jay had gone back to rhyming over soul samples rather than the keyboard beats of his last few releases (Soulman would later release the very dope "Unrolling the Blueprint" mix which featured all of these samples). Of course I had to get a copy once I read that, and it turned out that my favourite tracks on the album were produced by Just Blaze and “Kanye West” (yep - that same guy from the Grav album). After the success of Blueprint, it was a name I began to see more and more of in production credits. The next few years saw Kanye produce standout beats for Scarface, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Cam’ron, Game, Dilated Peoples, and Slum Village, among others. I was impressed by the way he was able to make club bangers as well as underground mixtape classics like Scarface "Guess Who's Back" and Dilated Peoples "Walk this way". As a working DJ when it dropped I bought “College Dropout” and added tracks from it to my setlist just like everyone else, but I have always first and foremost preferred Kanye as a producer, and his work producing for other rappers remains my favourite (in particular his work with Common). I've always been interested in sample sources, and over the years I've amassed a pretty vast collection of soul, jazz, funk and rock based purely on my love of Hip Hop. This mix represents over a decade of digging, and as any digger will tell you, every record has a story! Doing this mix brought back a lot of great memories, in particular myself and digging partner in crime Dj Sheep going all out on the crates in Tokyo to find the "Late Registration" and "Be" sample sources in 2005, and my man Blancon and I doing the same in Toronto for "Finding Forever" in 2007. This mix is a homage to my favourite Kanye soul samples from his "up and coming" phase producing for other rappers, as well as his later work for artists like Common, The Game, Talib Kweli, Consequence, etc. I've deliberately steered clear of anything from Kanye's own albums to bring you the best of his beats for other artists. No matter what you think of him nowadays, this mix is a tribute to the days when Kanye’s name in the production credits made an album or single worth checking out!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014