By Terbo Ted, Betterpropaganda.com
Guerrilla Funk Recordings Platinum Production Series
Anyone who's seriously tried to put together a bunch of beats with a computer or sampler knows the value of a good sample collection or library. A good producer will always be on the lookout for new sounds; much in the way a graphic designer is collecting new fonts as they're released. A good sample all by itself can be endlessly inspirational; witness the long lifespan of the funky drummer or amen break loops.
Paris, one of our favorite hip hop artists and producers, has put together a sample collection series for his label Guerrilla Funk Recordings. He co-mixed and edited the sounds and even did the graphic design himself. Over the years, Paris has become a fastidious, high-quality producer, working with several artists- like Chuck D from Public Enemy no less- as well as producing his own body of work. A DIY visionary, he's now giving something back to the community, tools aimed at aspiring hip hop producers, rappers and DJS.
The planned 8 volume series has just been launched, with the first three volumes out now. Each volume is available in CD or vinyl format. Turntablists can scratch it up with the vinyl versions, yee haw. The cds are thoughtfully manufactured, with each volume containing two discs of the same material; one in audio format, and one in data .aiff file format, eliminating the need to use ripping software, you can just drag the files on to your hard drive, in a format readily used by most quality audio software.
Volumes 1 & 2 are subtitled Classic Beats & Breaks and named accurately. If you're familiar with breakbeat collections, you get short snippets of drum beats which are intended to be cut and looped and used in the construction of new songs. CD and vinyl sample collections like these have been around for well over a decade now, so there's nothing new about this concept. What's neat about this collection is that it's hella cheap, even on vinyl: back in the day, these kind of CDs used to cost big bucks. The breaks themselves are also super dope. Of course they would be; Paris put this collection together himself, trust this man. It's not easy finding good breaks, and many collections are nothing but cheesy homemade drum machine riffs that have you wanting your money back, or the same old, same old you've already heard before. This set is notable for high sound quality- the vinyl scratches from the source material are beautifully preserved (or, rather, added deliberately?) - and the samples are longer than normal, especially on Volume 2, where the samples clock in around half a minute each. Volume 1 has three long jazz-styled drum solos several minutes long each, loaded with amazing fills and breakdowns suitable for endless cutting and pasting.
Sound Effects Volume 3 departs from the breaks and like the other discs, is accurately named. This set of sounds is heavy on crowd noise & applause, and also has a bunch of classic battle record hits such as "all that scratchin's makin' me itch" and lots of James Brown styled grunts and yells. It's sort of a haphazard pile of stuff to sift through, and suffers from not having all 96 sounds accurately labelled in the liner notes, something you'll commonly see in other sample collections. Imagine having to go back later and figure out which helicopter sound was your favorite; was that sample 47 or 52, I can't remember. I think I'd prefer this volume on vinyl instead of CD; fun for a turntablist into random needle dropping.
Comparing the collections, the first two collections of beats are way above average, and the sound effects collection is- compared to other professional audio collections or hip hop battle records by folks like Dirt Style Productions (who get concept album creative crazy with this kind of stuff)- simply run of the mill, average at best.
Paris is to be commended for putting all this stuff out, and I can openly admit that these CDs will mysteriously vanish from the BetterPropaganda world headquarters sooner than later. I can already predict that I'll be getting a lot of compliments for having such great beats in my upcoming home studio recordings. If you're into juggling or scratching, you'll want to grab this series on vinyl. I know Paris is all about the hip hop community, but these collections are useful tools for any music put together with a computer or sampler or turntable, whether it's hip hop, drum and bass, break beat, hardcore techno, breakcore, broken beat, pop electronica, downtempo, dub, dancehall, you name it. Tino should be jealous about now.
You can order this collection online from Paris' excellent website at Guerrillafunk.com, or look for the series in appropriately-minded stores. Rock the beats.