That Is The Question
Before I even started writing this World of Beats column, I knew that there would be a lot of people who didn't beat hunt who would be thrilled that this long ignored component of hip-hop was finally getting some light. I also knew that peops would be mad as hell to see trade secrets given away in a national publication. After the first column was printed, I was getting letters every day - all of them extremely positive. I knew it was too good to be true.
A couple of months later, I received my first letter from a kid who thought I was doing the wrong thing by giving away beats. Okay, cool. I knew that this sentiment was out there, no problem. Then I got another one. Then I got a couple of calls. Then I heard through the grape vine that some producers were grumbling about the column - even one of the kids I interviewed (if this is true, I don't understand why, because everything seemed mad cool when we spoke).
I also discussed the whole situation with some other beat finders, and I finally had to ask myself, "Should I be running a top ten beats list every month or not?" All in all, I would have to say the response to the column has been good. Ninety-three percent of those who responded are with it, five percent think it is a bad move, and two percent want my head. After seeing one of the negative views printed on the Rap Sheet letters page, I have decided it is time I responded to the critics, addressing their complaints and also expressing my own point of view on this issue.
First of all, I am a lover of music and of hip-hop culture. I do not really consider myself a writer, journalist, artist, producer, rapper, or record collector, even through I do all of those things a little bit. I just see myself as a lover of music, and if I can manifest that love in any way, I try to do it as best I can. I collect all kinds of records: Jazz, Rock, Soul, and shit from the thirties and forties, stuff from other countries, you name it. I got into records from the hip-hop perspective - finding beats and the like. Now it's not even all about beats for me, it's about finding shit to listen to and enjoy. It is disheartening to see the narrow view of music that many of today's listers have. It is like everybody's into their one thing and will not open up to peep that wider spectrum. That is why some of the most musically adventurous and groundbreaking hip-hop acts get ignored and the more easily digested R&B flavored stuff goes mega platinum.
Now I do not really think that digging in the crates and sampling will go the way of the dinosaur any time soon. But when I see incredibly ill records, masterpieces of sampling wizardry, not blowing up like they should, I do get concerned. What I try to do in this column is get people curious about the music that Hip Hop is built on and help give a little knowledge and understanding on what this shit is really all about. When you have a better understanding of beats and music in general, you have a greater appreciation of The Beatnuts, The Souls of Mischief, Diamond D, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, and many other artists out there who dig a little deeper than the rest. Judging from responses I have already gotten, I am helping some kids get more interested in the music. Some kids get more interested in the music on a deeper level because of this column. This alone makes it all worthwhile.
Now, let me just go over the different reasons I have received on why I should not be writing this column:
1: "Phil, you're giving away shit, man! I do not want people to
know about that record!"
2: "Don't just give away beats to the suckers! Make them work
3: "What if I am doing a record with a certain beat, then you
or somebody else comes out with the same shit?"
4: " You're tipping off record labels on samples that people
are using! Now they're gonna' be looking for shit!"
The fact of the matter is that there are literally thousands and thousands of records with beats on them. I could give away twenty a month for the next ten years and still not even scratch the surface the surface, you know what I'm saying? For the most part, I am trying to keep it fairly basic, throwing in a real jewel or two every now and then without opening up the whole vault. Out of respect to others, I'm trying not to drop any of the real bombshell collectibles. But I truly feel that if you are really vexed over the beats that I have listed so far, it just might be a sign that you need to start doing a little more work yourself and digging a bit deeper, kid. For real. There is just too much stuff out there that has not been touched to be getting upset over the few that I have named. I'm sorry, but that's how I see it.
Regardless of how I personally feel about this whole subject, it is really not about me. It is about you and what you want to or do not want to see in "The World of Beats.". Therfore, I want to hear from every single person reading this who has an opinion on this countroversy. Especially any established producers who use samples extensively. I really want to know how you feel about the column. I know most of you are mad busy, but if you think that I'm doing anything that is making life harder for you, you have got to let me know so that something can be done about it. It's cool if you disagree with my point of view, but we need to talk about it like rational, civilized people. And even you if feel that I am making a mistake, just know that I do what I do out of a very real love of hip-hop music, nothing else. Hopefully, that love comes through in what I write and in what I try to share with all of you.
Yo, a quick apology to those of you who took the time to write me but never got a return letter from The Soulman. Due to the amount of mail I've been receiving, as well as an increasingly busy schedule, it's been impossible for me to answer every letter. But I do read them all and appreciate each one of them, so keep em coming. To answer some general questions I've been getting: As for tapes, available now are The Soulman's Archaeologist Classics Vols. 1-70, 90 minutes of classic joints played in their entirety for just $10.00 a pop (what a bargain!). Also available are the "World of Beats" mixtapes, Volumes 1-3, only $10 each. People interested in production should email me directly to discuss details, but right now I'm only working with people in my part of the country (New York, Philly, Jersey, and any place else in the near proximity), unless you're ready to fly me out to where you live or take the trip here to Philly to do your recording.
Yo, you can send whatever to THE SOULMAN, P.O. BOX 12323, PHILA. PA 19119. Make any money orders out to Phill Stroman (that's my real name). The 10 Beats To Catch list will return next month, and I'll also be talking to a living legend of beats: Berkeley's own Beni B. Be thizz or be squizz.