Who Flipped It Better? Black Moon vs. Yung Lean
The Sample: Ronnie Laws - 'Tidal Wave' (1975)
Between Coltrane's epiphanic, brain-splitting solos and Kenny G 's escapades on moonlit fire escapes, there's Ronnie Laws. Not as spiritual as the former nor as corny as the latter, Laws fell somewhere in the middle, balancing pop with more lofty compositions, often on the same song, like 'Tidal Wave.'
A staple of '90s boom-bap (Large Pro flipped the horn licks something mean for the 'Stress' remix), 'Tidal Wave' is one of Ronnie's best known songs. It has an airy resemblance to Donald Byrd's 'Wind Parade,' and though the two songs were produced by different people -- Larry Mizell did Byrd's 'Places And Spaces' album while George Butler and Wayne Henderson handled Ronnie's 'Pressure Sensitive' -- both songs came out in 1975.
It's not a coincidence. Bebop wound down in the '60s and as a result, a new form of jazz began surging towards popularity -- fusion. 'Bitches Brew' by Miles Davis was a seminal, if confusing, album that forever changes the genre's direction. He was at once hailed as a visionary and criticized as a sell-out for making "commercial crap," as Bob Rusch and other jazz critics have noted. Together, Ronnie, Donald, and Miles provided listeners with another lesson in why you shouldn't immediately dismiss Poptimism.
Flip 1: Black Moon - 'Who Got Da Props' (Prod. by Evil Dee) 
Black Moon would have stomped the idea of Poptimism out with rugged Timbs, though. "It has to be grimy. I was always about the grimy sound," said Mr. Walt, one half of the production crew behind Black Moon's classic 'Enta Da Stage' LP.' He, along with Evil Dee, made up Da Beatminerz, two of the muddiest, most influential producers to ever grace drum machines. They got that fuzzy sound because they sampled from cassettes, not vinyl. The owner of the studio where they recorded 'Who Got Da Props,' a guy named Schlomo, didn't think Evil Dee's mix of the song was going to work. He clashed with Da Beatminerz producer until walking out, so Evil Dee ended up mixing the track on his own. "You had highs, mids, and bass. Schlomo wasn't having it," recalled Evil Dee. "[Schlomo] said, 'You can't make records like that.'"
Apparently, Pete Rock agreed with Schlomo. Evil Dee once bumped into the Chocolate Boy Wonder and played him the beat, prompting Pete to reveal that though he'd tried to freak the same Ronnie Laws sample, he'd never been able to do it. "I made a beat that Pete Rock couldn't do," said Evil Dee. It was the first complete song Black Moon ever recorded. The rest is history.
Flip 2: Yung Lean - 'Princess Daisy' (Prod. by Yung Gud) 
Fast forward 20 years, and Swedish kids are putting their own spin on the classic Black Moon joint. Yung Lean is the latest internet sensation to bunch up the panties of rap cognoscenti, as his 'Unknown Memory' album dropped this past Tuesday to cold-shouldered reviews from Pitchfork and others. He's white, which always sucks, but at least the beats are cool ...
In fact, it's his production that's kept him buoyant since last year, when he dropped 'Unknown Death 2002.' 'Princess Daisy' is exhibit 1A; lyrically, the kid doesn't do anything Lil' B hasn't already accomplished, but it's Yung Gud's slumped over beat that commands the song. Some rappers render any beat they rap over docile. With Yung Lean, it's the reverse; his beats make him insignificant, for better or worse.
That speaks as much to Lean's vocal fragility as it does to Yung Gud's production prowess. He draws out Ronnie's sax at the end of the beat, like the high that kicks in after you put the L out. It's reminiscent of DJ Screw, who slowed music down and separated each sound like a true audiophile. Like a certain part of a beat? Now it lasts twice as long.
But don't ever in your long-legged life think some Swedish kids are out-flipping Da Beatminerz on any sample. I don't care if Yung Gud worked at IHOP his whole life. Evil Dee could step foot in that building on day one and flip flapjacks better than the Swede ever hoped to.
Two drum breaks, one by Lightnin' Rod and the other by the Skull Snaps, layer each other on 'Who Got Da Props' for added texture. Loop the 'Tidal Wave' strings that come in at 0:22, speed 'em up, shoot the higher-pitched, two-note string line through the entire beat, and you've got one of the best boom bap records of all time. No 'Who Got Da Props,' no 'Princess Daisy.' And while originators don't win by default, Evil Dee did a lot more with the sample than Yung Gud did. Notice there's no bass on 'Who Got Da Props'? Yeah...Beatminerz for life.