Daydreams

Okay, so this has become a bit of a music blog — but only temporarily, I swear. I have a list of meatier entries to write, but I’ve been too lazy to get to them. And besides, music stuff is more fun.

So here’s something interesting. Check out these three songs. (Give each one at least a minute.)

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Notice anything interesting? Yeah, that slinky descending baseline. Coincidence? Of course not. When I first bought these albums about a decade ago, I was flabbergasted. I looked into it, and it seemed that they all sampled the same song, Isaac Hayes’s “Ike’s Rap II” from 1972:

Ike is the man. I’m still amazed that the Tricky and Portishead albums — which came out within the span of a year — would sample the same song. Anyway, it’s a solid one.

Well, of course things aren’t so simple. At the time, I thought I had made a pretty interesting observation. Naturally, it turns out that there are entire websites devoted to tracking song samples, and I stumbled across one the other day. It turns out that the Beta Band song doesn’t actually sample “Ike’s Rap II” — it samples (or, more directly, rips off) a Gunter Kallman Choir cover of “Daydream in Blue” by the Wallace Collection from 1968! (And has its own same-year twin.)

It also appears that Ike himself may have sampled “Daydream in Blue” to create “Ike’s Rap II”! Well then. I can’t dig any further on that bass line, so props to the Wallace Collection for writing it. Of course, art is theft, and guess what, “Daydream in Blue”‘s main chorus (which is not sampled by any of the aforementioned songs) is itself lifted from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

Compare the chorus of “Daydream in Blue” (starting around 0:40) to the melody at 0:29 of this clip.

Of course, Tchaikovsky himself frequently quoted folk songs in his compositions, so who knows how far back that melody goes. As I always like to say, there’s nothing new under the sun.

Hrm, or maybe someone else might have said that first…

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6 Responses to Daydreams

  1. wasabisabi says:

    AJ, you’re so rad. I wish my laptop speakers were meaty enough that I could fully enjoy your post, but at least I know the Beta Band version well, so I can hear that baseline nicely in my head.

    • wingerz says:

      i played all of the songs simultaneously and it freaked me out.

      sorry i don’t actually have anything meaningful to contribute to this conversation.

  2. See also another classic from the 90s, “Unexplained” by Gravediggaz (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU2Zde11VZM), which samples a very similar lick from a different source in the early 1970s: “Wildflower” by The New Birth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjmhHwlmTMA).

    Of course, it’s a bass line that falls out naturally from the standard V-I progression in pretty much all western harmony using some very standard traditional Jazz substitutions, so we shouldn’t be too surprised to see it all over the place.

  3. denalen says:

    Daydream in Blue

    For an excellent rendition of Daydream in Blue a la Lupe Fiasco and Jill Scott, check out
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GQjYPWDcmg.
    I hadn’t heard the ‘original’ that you posted before tonight.

    Since hip hop is especially recycling-friendly, I have these kinds of realizations pretty frequently. If I start down a song-connecting path, my evening usually turns into a web-surfing extravaganza reminiscent of a choose-your-own-adventure book.

    After reading your post I got pretty interested to know just how pervasive my ignorance is. So as a pilot experiment I picked a random song–Definition by Mos Def.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx5aVI2zsFE
    Before this evening I was not aware of any of its precedents. It turns out the song samples “The P Is Free” by Boogie Down Productions, and interpolates “Stop the Violence”, another Boogie Down production.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoJeThDfdzk
    Of course, Boogie Down sampled Yellowman.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUjIl4_DYiU&feature=related
    And of course Yellowman uses someone else’s hit–the “Diseases” riddim released in 1967 by “Junjo” Lawes. But apparently Junjo was 7 in 1967, so maybe he doesn’t get credit either.

    It’s one thing to look backward only. But it’s another to look forward. So I looked up “the p is free” on the website you posted, whosampled.com, and I found out that 5 other people sampled that one song. More impressive still–Boogie Down has been sampled 111 times. And that’s only the annotated samples!! (for comparison: 2Pac: 56; B.I.G.: 116; Jay-Z: 101)