Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Production Squads of a Bygone Era

SD50s: The Stimulated Dummies were a trio of hip-hop misfits with very un-hip-hop names: Dante Ross ("Dante is a scrub!"), John Gamble, and Geeby Dajani. Together, they laced upbeat jazz-inflected productions for KMD's Mr. Hood, 3rd Bass' Derelicts of Dialect, remixes for Brand Nubian, Grand Puba's debut Reel to Reel, Hard 2 Obtain's slept on debut, and the list goes on and on. Somehow, the SD50s remarkable talent was perennially buried on poorly-marketed albums destined to be crate digging classics.

The Beatnuts: They're still out there, releasing their own albums, but long gone are the days when a Beatnuts remix was a given. They defined the loping bassline, lazy horn blast, and "psycho dwarf" mentality in the mid-90s, relishing the role as the evil twin of Pete Rock's more upright and precise jazz sound. Notable third party albums that featured their production: Kurious Jorge's Constipated Monkey, Prime Minister Pete Nice's solo Dust to Dust, and Chi-Ali's Fabulous Chi-Ali. Countless remixes on vinyl demand a Beatnuts remix retrospective box set!

The Bomb Squad: We all know the Bomb Squad's legendary sonic work supporting the bombastic vocals of Chuck and Flav, but their freelance work outside of the Public Enemy house was just as pivotal. Hank and Keith Shocklee (what a great last name), along with Eric "Vietnam" Sadler fine-tuned the sample-thick formula for each artist: Ice Cube's Amerikkka's Most Wanted was a west-coast funk-soaked version of the PE prototype, while their work on Leaders of the New School's "Sobb Story" was low key enough to let Busta Rhyme's burgeoning personality get some shine. At their peak in the early 90s, the Bomb Squad was producing for everyone including Paula Abdul (!), Sinead O'Connor, their side project Young Black Teenagers, and the obscure Son of Bazerk. And all the while reinventing the sound of hip-hop through four undeniably classic Public Enemy albums. Bring that beat back!


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