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Who Flipped It Better? J. Cole vs. Madlib

Stones Throw Records/ Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Who the f—k is Rubba? More often than not, you’ll ask yourself that when you find an artist that Madlib has sampled before, followed by, “Where on earth did he find this?”

Listen to Rubba’s ‘Way Star’

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Rubba, for all intents and purposes, is seriously obscure. Little information about who they (he? she?) are, but the majority of the 13-track sophomore LP ‘In Motion: Modern Progressive Group Sounds Played By Rubba’ is composed by Joachim Sherylee, which is an alias for Jacky Giordano, a member of a French disco group called Black Devil and a French jazz/funk group called the Schifters. Jacky Giordano had other aliases as well, including Jacky Nodaro and José Pharos. Confused yet?

In 1980, Rubba released the album mentioned above in the United Kingdom, and it’s genre is categorized on Discogs as “Electronic, Stage & Screen” while it’s style is “Electro, Score.” Judging by cuts like ‘Way Star’ and ‘Carousel In The Milky Way,’ it’s more funk and soul than electronic.  That’s pretty much all the relevant information to be dug up online (in English) on Giordano – oh, and the fact that the music is insane.

Watch Madlib & Freddie Gibbs ‘Thuggin’ Video

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This process of discovering how Madlib flipped the loop is probably best experienced if you hear ‘Thuggin’ first, and then go back and hear how he warped it from the original. The beat is obviously dope on it’s own, but your jaw doesn’t drop until you hear the Rubba record and realize what Madlib did to it.

‘Way Star’ builds slowly like an acid trip until those head-wobbling strings at 1:08, but Madlib speeds them up, almost quadrupling their speed until they’re vibrating like a taut rubber band. It goes from an easygoing boat ride to an outerspace launch after that, as though Pink Floyd were on even more mind-numbing drugs. Madlib adds what sound like barely pitter-pattering drums, but they’re so hard to hear because the speed of the strings makes a bouncing percussive sound. Was this influenced by Alchemist, or vice versa?

Listen to J. Cole and Dreamville’s ‘Motion Picture’ 

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J. Cole sounds like he got a little less creative with it. He uses the same loop as Madlib (bet $500 this wouldn’t have happened if ‘Lib hadn’t flipped it first) and throws the ‘Impeach The President’ drums on there, which is basically cheating. He does, however, score minor points for adding some sort of tambourine to the snares. Still, the speed of the beat creeps in a similar tempo to the original, and while it’s still a head nodder, it doesn’t have the same “wow” factor that ‘Thuggin’ does.

If you listen closely, you can actually tell that Madlib uses both the loop at 1:08 and the loop at 2:51. The latter is how the song opens, and throughout he uses the initial sample. It sounds like Cole only used the one at 1:08. The fact that Madlib did this first, combined with the dual samples and the lack of drums, makes “Thuggin” the superior flip. Now we just need to ask Cole where he got the idea to use the Rubba record.

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