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Who Flipped It Better? Mac Miller & Vince Staples vs. Grand Puba

The Sample: J.O.B. Orquestra – ‘Govinda’ (1978)

Meet Hare Krishna Disco, whatever that means. Some Eastern vibes (ooh, exotic!) creep into this soul/funk project that featured the work of Norma Jean Wright, who is best known for her short stint as lead singer for Chic in 1977-8. J.O.B. Orquestra released exactly one album in their entire career, ‘Open The Doors To Your Heart,’ and it is 100% worth checking out. It plays like a smooth carpet ride over white sand (no not that white sand), gliding up to the moon under the direction of Jorge Barreiro, who lent a hand to acts in the ’70s and ’80s like Black Ivory and J.R. And The Funk Machine. Clocking in under 40 minutes, the album is a tight exercise in grooving, but it all comes to a head on the serene finale, ‘Govinda,’ whose opening notes immediately conjure associations to Joe Henderson’s modal classic, ‘Black Narcissus.’ Listening to ‘Govinda’ is as calming as sitting next to a gigantic body of water. Hearing the first strings bend to the gravity of the earth makes you one with the soil.

Flip 1: Grand Puba – ‘A Little Of This (Stud Doogie Remix)’ [1995]

Grand Puba Maxwell will forever be one of hip-hop’s greatest slept-on talents. Brand Nubian holds their place in the rap canon collectively, but to think that Lord Jamar, over Sadat and Puba, is the most “relevant” one these days, is enough to make you yak on your Hilfiger. In listening to Brand Nubian, I was always more intrigued by Sadat’s strange voice, at least until I heard Puba’s ’92 solo debut ‘Reel To Reel.’ Puba has this lax way of snapping fat rhymes while reclining, thus making his technique, not his content, the object of admiration amongst rap fiends.

‘A Little Of This’ was from his second, less popular solo album, ’2000,’ and in 1995 Elektra buried this Stud Doogie remix as the last track on the CD single. You probably know Stud Doogie more as a fixture in Puba’s rhymes than as a mainstay behind the boards – that name was like a cough in the throat of the Brand Nubian member.

The remix is as mellow as it gets. Stud Doogie speeds up the J.O.B. sample at the :14 mark, separating the slower bassline from the slightly accelerated electric guitar that is played one string at a time. The way it’s played originally makes the sounds vibrate freely; Doogie makes the bass expand across the record like a Pete Rock beat while reeling in the electric guitar for the chorus.

Flip 2: Mac Miller & Vince Staples – ‘Rain’ (Prod. by 9th Wonder) [2014]

Ah, Mac Miller. The green-eyed colored man (do the knowledge) who claims you’re a racist if he’s not in your top 10 – tongue in cheek or otherwise. I must be a card-carrying bigot, then, big boy, because all that fake deep s–t you was spitting on ‘Faces’ couldn’t lick the bottom of DOOM’s cereal bowl, word to Jeff Jank. Yes, he’s improved from that piddle pop he was shilling on his debut album, and it’s cool to see him explore his inner consciousness with the freedom that that album awarded him (it sure is good being white), but cozying up with better, more “accepted” rappers doesn’t make him nicer by proxy, and internal infernal journal rhymes puts him in the “who-the-f–k-cares” boat. He can rap, but so can the crackhead on my block who kicks himself around in a wheelchair, as long as I stop to listen. This self-indulgent bulls–t doesn’t fly anywhere but in the face of better, more attention-deserving music today. Take those looking-in-the-mirror raps home to momma, Macaulay.

Luckily, he’s friends with Vince Staples, and 9th Wonder gifted the two of them one of his best beats in recent years. 9th skips forward just a bit, past those quicker strings to :18, where the electric guitar plucks five spaced out notes. It’s a fascinating choice – where Stud Doogie prefers the slightly staccato nature of the quicker strings, 9th opts for the slower sequence only seconds later. That’s how precise dope producers are.

Both beats are extraordinary. 9th’s has a faster knock to it on some white-guy-rocking-out s–t, while Stud Doogie’s is slower, more seated in a 90′s cloud of kush. 9th gets the edge, as he throws in a screwball bass chop a couple times throughout the beat, while the Puba track is a simpler, although perhaps more effective, loop. Both deserve endless props for sampling this obscure sample almost ten years apart from each other. The question now is, how did they find out about it?

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