Still in the electro zone following Dave Tompkins's The Wire salon (see The Mire passim), I find myself slipping through wormholes of sample sources, song theft and shout-out references. Today in the office we're booming Zapp & Roger's "So Ruff, So Tuff":
Which sends me back to a personal favourite, Ronnie Hudson And The Street People's "West Coast Poplock", which borrows a chunk of Zapp, and adds the iconic lyric "California knows how to party":
Documentary evidence of real-life poplocking to Ronnie H can be found here:
The Hudson lyric was later, of course, borrowed by 2pac's "California Love", which featured Zapp's Roger Troutman:
Which melded it with the sample from Joe Cocker's incredible track "Woman To Woman":
A track which itself had been sampled by the Ultramagnetic MC's late 80s track "Funky":
In a neat reversal of the usual magpie sample theft of hiphop, Zapp & Roger did their own version of "California Love" later:
This much I knew already – funnily enough from the soundtrack to the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas computer game (whoever compiles those soundtracks has got a seriously great record collection). But what I didn't know till now, thanks to a bit of googling, was that "West Coast Poplock" itself borrowed it's main riff from Booker T And The MG's "Boot Leg":
And that track has its own hiphop history, having been borrowed by Cypress Hill:
With this dense web of connections, moving both back and forth along the timeline, "West Coast Poplock" seems something like the keystone of hiphop, a crucial multi-way node in rap history. But perhaps out there is the another track which has even more points of connection – the Higgs boson of hiphop, connecting everything to everything:
Whatever it is, my guess is that DJ Funktual in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has already found it. His long running series of ten-minute shows on YouTube breaking down who-sampled-what are compulsive viewing, and take you as close to the sheer time-shifting delight of finding these connections as anything out there:
Tags: 2pac | Booker T And The MGs | Cypress Hill | Dave Tompkins | DJ Funktual | Joe Cocker | Multimedia | Roger Troutman | Ronnie Hudson | Think pieces | Ultramagnetic MCs | Uncategorized | video | Zapp
The Wire’s monthly series of salon events returns after an extended Christmas and New Year break with an illustrated talk by the magazine’s former hiphop columnist Dave Tompkins on the history of the vocoder. The talk will be based on Dave's acclaimed recent book on synthetic voice phenomena, How To Wreck A Nice Beach (available from Stop Smiling Books)
In anticipation of the salon Dave and Monk One have made an exclusive edit of their How To Wreck A Nice Beach mix for The Wire. You can download it here. Also, click here to read Dave's extensive annotated track list for the mix in all its unexpurgated glory.
The Wire Salon: How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War Two To Hiphop takes place at London's Cafe Oto, 15 February, 8pm, £4.
In addition to his appearance at the salon, Dave will also be talking on (as opposed to through) the vocoder at the Off The Page festival in Whitstable this weekend...
If you haven't already had your brain rearranged this year by Dave Tompkins's How To Wreck A Nice Beach, an occult history of the vocoder from Cybertron back to the communication R&D labs of Second World War... well, you should. But if you want to try out your code-breaking skills before you buy (by the way, it's one of the most beautifully produced books I've seen in a long time) you can visit Dave's blog. Essential musings on Rammellzee's death, vocoder ephemera, an astonishing and essential mix taking in Jonzun Crew, ELO and The Human League, and many other enigmatic variations on the vocoder theme. All done by the dude above in the Luke Skyywalker jacket. Essential reading and listening... as is this completely singular book.
If you're in NYC today, this talk/discussion/crate-digging session featuring Dave Tompkins (plus old hiphop sparing partner Hua Hsu), celebrating the launch of Dave's book How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II To Hip Hop – The Machine Speaks. looks fantastic. A real one-off for sure... here's what Dave says:
I'll be doing a vocoder book reading TODAY, 7 p.m., at McNally Jackson on 52 Prince Street in Soho, near Lafayette. Expect missiles, Muppets, asthma attacks, and vanishing staircases.
It will be hosted by New York Times critic Jon Caramanica and Hua Hsu. Jon is a big fan of "Nasty Rock," the only vocoder hit out of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. Hua Hsu writes for the Atlantic Monthly and has been subjected to just about every freaking hare-brained scheme that went into this thing.
The legendary EMS-3000 Vocoder will also be in the house, still coherent after running around with the Cylons, Pink Floyd and ELO.
The reading will be followed by a party at Trophy Bar, at 351 Broadway, btwn 9th and Keap Streets, with classy boogie-disco-electro-hip-hop-assorted-hyphenated-whatnot provided by some of my favorite New York DJs.
Duane Harriott (Other Music/Negroclash/Bim Marx) did my favorite gospel disco edit from last summer. Veronica Vasicka runs the excellent Minimal Wave label and radio show. East Village Radio. Chairman Mao (ego trip) recently made it possible for me to hear about how Schoolly D's wife once kicked the 2 Live Crew out of Schoolly D's house. I've been collaborating with Monk-One (Wax Poetics) on the book mix which will be up next week and will include a special edit of Gary Numan's "Telekon."
Sponsored by the ghosts of those two Signal Corps officers presiding over the turntables in the photo. (SIGSALY Vocoder Terminal codenamed SAMPLE, Paris, 1945)
Be sure to say hi to the stop smiling/runner folks who worked so incredibly hard to make this book. Ask James Hughes why "Biters In The City" made him freak out.
Thanks to Kevin at AnalogLifestyle for the McNally Flyer and the unstoppable Tina Ibanez for the party flyer.
Hope to see you there!