Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement by S. Craig Watkins
Sometimes, I read a hip-hop book and don’t learn anything new. That was not the case with this book. S. Craig Watkins drops a lot of knowledge in this book. I already wrote about some of great stories he told and his theory on three distinct eras in hip-hop. Today, let’s look at some great interaction between rapper and DJ.
Rapper / DJ Dialogue
Have you ever heard a dialogue between a rapper and a DJ? This happens when a rapper responds directly to a sound clip or cut that a DJ provides or a DJ scratches something to answer what the emcee just said. Sometimes, this happens between artists and albums.
Count Bass D engaged in a dialogue with Nice & Smooth through the use of a DJ cut in his song “Truth to the Light.” He did it to correct an error that Greg Nice made in his lyrics and pay tribute to the correct musical history. In “Funky for You,” Greg Nice starts out the song with this lyric, “Hey yo, Dizzy Gillespie plays a sax” and it is a line that I have said over and over again. I don’t know anything about the Jazz legend. I thought I knew what instrument he played, but I was wrong. So was Greg Nice.
Count Bass D crafted the following dialogue in his song to correct this error.
Greg Nice: “Dizzy Gillespie plays the sax”
Count Bass D: “Lester Young was on the tip of his tongue when he said”
Greg Nice: “Hey, yo Dizzy Gillespie
Count Bass D: “plays the trumpet”
Count Bass D said, “Songs that I really like a whole lot, that I’ve liked over the years, kind of run through my head all the time and so they kind of creep into songs. They get used that way, in lyrics or something like that. And oftentimes I’ll try to accent it by using the original. Unless you know [Nice & Smooth’s Funky For You], you don’t know who I’m talking about or what I’m talking about, but I think to the people who are in the know, I think it strengthens their faith that the things I am talking about that they don’t understand may have some relevance to them in time.” He believes that the ideal listener should be able to recognize his source.
When I read this story from the book, I made a connection to another Nice & Smooth sample. This one came from Ghettosock’s “Truth to the Light” which shares the title of the Count Bass D track but samples a different song. This time, a Smooth B lyric is used. He says, “I write in the night to bring truth to the light” and this becomes the chorus of the new work.
Can you think of other examples of rappers and DJs communicating back and forth on a song?