A lot of kids who go digging for old beats usually head straight for the R&B/Soul/Funk section or maybe to the corner of the shop where the jazz records are stored, not even realizing that they passed by countless gems in the rock section. When you mention rock and roll in the same breath as hip-hop, most heads react in disgust as they envision their beloved rap music being submerged in a sea of deafening guitars played by long haired weirdos straight out of KERRRANG! magazine. Thoughts of mad cheesy rock and roll/rap hybrid collaborations come quickly to mind. But let me make this point very clear to any novice beatfinders: If you think sampling from rock records is wack, YOU ARE SLEEP-ING!! Straight up and down, some of the fattest shit you will ever hear in your life can be found on certain select rock albums, so don't be fooled.
You have to go back to the real "old school" days of rap to find out when rock joints first began to be put into use by deejays. "Six out of ten records that I played were white boy records," Grandmaster Flash told me a while back. "Some of the biggest records of all time: 'Apache' (the classic b-boy anthem by The Incredible Bongo Band), 'Johnny The Fox' by Thin Lizzy, 'The Big Beat' by Billy Squire... and the list goes on and on." Afrika Bambaataa, the man with probably the deepest record collection in hip-hop history, was well known for rocking the parks with unlikely ghetto beats like "Mary Mary" by the Monkees, The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band- Reprise", "Reach Out of the Darkness" by Friend & Lover, and The Rolling Stones' hit "Honky Tonk Women". And Grand Wizard Theodore, who was at one time Flash's record boy (and also recognized as the first deejay to introduce the technique known as scratching to the public), used to specialize in finding rock records with beats by groups like The Steve Miller Band and Aerosmith.
We all know the stereotypes: white boys can't really get down, they ain't got no rhythm, they can't get funky. But just as some whites have badly misjudged we Nubians when it comes to what we can and cannot do, it's a mistake to look only at skin color when trying to guess which musician's record will have funky beats on it. You can find jewels on heavy metal headbanger shit like Black Sabbath's self titled album, or soft rock hits like Player's "Baby Come Back". Matter of fact, you don't even have to scour the rock section to find beats by white kids. Looking through the jazz racks you can score mad joints by artists like John Klemmer and Jeff Beck. Don't forget the blues: Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Paul Butterfield are just a few names to look for. Even in R&B you can find groups like The Average White Band who have lots of classics that you should know about.
Now, I realize that a lot of brothers will say that these white musicians are nothing more than pale (excuse the pun) imitations of real soul, jazz, and blues originators; leeches who got rich imitating black artists that had far more talent. No argument there from me. All I can say is that if you let that stop you from partaking of the dope beats that those leeches have created, my collection's gonna be better than yours. The defense rests.
That's it for this month, yo. Be sure to check for me next time when I'll be talking beats with one of hip-hop's most creative producers, the boogie down Bronx's own Showbiz. In the meantime, send your own beatlists, postcards, love letters (females only, please) and any irrelevant correspondence to: The Soulman.
Peace to my Archaeologists worldwide. Soul Brothers #9 ain't no joke, and I'm out on that note. C-ya...