( ok. i know that it's really a conflict of interest for me to review this record cause this ain't a record where i'm a guest. sure to d, this is ''voodoo''. to me? this is called ''vicarious fantasy'', because if i was a singer this would be the record i'd make. hands down
. but that doesn't mean this is for everybody. music lovers come under 2 umbrellas. number one: those who use it for growth and spiritual fulfillment and number two: those who use it for mere background music. the thing is, this record is too extreme to play the middle of the fence. this record is the litmus test that will reveal the most for your personality. cats who live for music and all the new directions it can show you have cried when i played this record (i don't wanna embarrass no one but i assure you at least 7 of your favorite artists were on their knees BAWLING because of this astounding document of music. this is what we need today...this is no miseducation ....this is the blueprint right here!) for them.
i know for a fact that tribe inspired slum, slum inspired d, and d inspired ''things fall apart''. i assure you, the only reason that ''things...'' was the way it was is because of the endless education i got from moonlighting on this record. the intro? and all that dialogue floating around? (came from russ' (elevado, engineer)3-d like mixing). the volume floating up and down on ''the realm''? that from all the endless info that chief hendrix engineer eddie kramer bestowed on us when talking of jimi's endless ideas when recording at the studio jimi built for us. ''double trouble''? inspired by ''great day in the morning'' i was not gonna let no r and b cat out dirty the drums i created. and ''love of my life''? d and i always talked about having an ''electric relaxation''. meaning that smoove ass song that starts side two that's so lush and beautiful that you wanna just.......die!!! slum's ''electric'' was ''fall in love''. d called me 4am screaming that he finally had a ''relaxation''. (''the root'') shieeeet, if i didn't feel left out in the cold, side two of ''tfa'' would've started with ''100% dundee''.
just being around these cats made me want to better my shit. i can't recall the times we would have listening sessions and primo would come down and play us shit from the unreleased ''moment of truth'', or pete rock would play his ''treats of the week'' (pete makes 20 tracks a week, rides around nyc and gets feedback from cats) and i don't even gotta talk about slum village. i was the only cat not pulling my weight. i just wanted to pop a tape in and watch niggas scream as they jumped with envy while listening to my shit. they all got inspired by each other and dagnabbit i wasn't going down without a fight. so just know the next time you listen to ''tfa'' know that's a record with a man who was trying to excel from just being a ''great drummer'' to an artist that inspires his fellow artists. and sure enough in time ''tfa'' got revamped to fit my tastes to the point that cats was happy to hear my shit and i wasn't embarrassed to play em shit, cause i guarantee you, if d doesn't jump 6 feet in the air, and tip don't shake his head like he don't believe it, and jay don't do his patented ''whoooohoooo!'' it ain't bangin. so in short this record made ''tfa'' and fantastic vol 2 possible. this is a track by track guide to how ''voodoo'' got made. ''player player''
we started this in august '96. d's manager dominique treneir was one the executive producers of space jam and d was making a contribution. before this our history was limited to illadelph's ''hypnotic'' and a song that didn't make the ''set it off'' soundtrack (''bitch''). so already ''bitch'' with it's drunk ass meter, and the new kid on tribe's block, jay dee, were steering us in this new direction, of soul for 2000.
bad boy was just about to eclipse and rule the sound that was then ''death row''. the drums on ''dreamin eyes of mine'' (from brown sugar) were always my favorite and showed me endless possibilities of funk. i just combined all those influences and gave d some nasty ass funk. i was rim shottin the snare hard as hell, and making my meter sloppy as hell. but not so sloppy that you couldn't feel it. as for the icing on the cake. i showed d some tricks on how to make his shit sound spacey. so we reversed the 2 inch tape, and i did my patented trick with the rhodes that i've done with countless roots songs. soon after we just had fun.
you can still hear us laughin our ass off while applying hand claps and snaps to the track. pretty soon this would become a recording highlight to the point on all our songs we would have clapping sessions. that was our bonding moments. (''hello?'' what's up nigga? yo where you at? ''in philly'' yo, can you get here in 3 hours? ''yeah why?'' we doin claps ''oh cool lemme get dressed''...)no matter how late, or how inconvenient, clapping session were the equivalent of sunday dinner on ''soul food'' and soon we initiated other cats into the family (common, james poyseur, roy hardgrove, raphael saadiq, q-tip, pete rock, and even erykah). that's where we would get crazy, crack jokes, fart, play the dozens and gave each track the good time feel it deserved) the folks at warner brothers got freaked when they heard the final product and instead took a brown sugar reject. (''i found my smile again''). this was just a peek of what was to come. soon 3 years would follow of funk, unhappy record execs, bonding, rumors of drug abuse, education from the masters (playing with prince), uneasiness with the state of black music, divorce, child birth, and the one element that glued this whole shit together.....love.
it was a love for the dead state of black music, a love to show our idols how much they taught us. this was the love movement. and this was the beginning.
''l and r''
by 1998, the ridiculously long delay in this record began to even irk me, vowing that i wouldn't listen to another lick of this record until i picked it up in the stores, i trashed my instrumental tapes (well......not really).i stopped coming by the studio in order to concentrate on my fourth record. this was a concoction between q-tip and d. yes i'm drumming. but i'm not drumming (he looped 4 bars of me playing).
d sorely wanted a party song that didn't compromise his future funk vision. he wanted something sexy for the ladies, but he wanted heads to feel him as well. the latter wish was too important to him. i remember being in richmond (his crib) the week ''life after death'' came out (biggie). he said he never seen anything like this since ll's sophomore effort ''bigger and deffer''. he was right. after our show, the parking lot was a virtual biggie heaven. this car rocked ''player hater'', this car had ''i've got a story to tell'', this jeep kept ''what's beef'' on repeat.....and our ride played ''10 crack commandments'' til the cops told us to turn it down. the last conflict was which hip-hop artist would carry d into the jeeps and backpacks of the heads. to go commercial would ruin the premise of this whole record. of course tariq and com wouldn't pass the corporate test (and yes folks we tried). and he didn't want the flavor of the minute mc. it had to be someone who rode the thin line with ease. so in this corner.....(love movement era) q-tip. and in that corner the blunt brothers (meth and red).
general opinion was that the song was cool but nobody was feeling tip's verse. often times we would try to brainstorm and see if we could come up with a better song to save us the embarrassment of telling tip we didn't like his performance. meanwhile manager dom felt that we needed a ''hard nigga'' to get the streets to feel this. so we got double the package. meth and d had been cool since d sang on ''break up to make up'' for meth. and of course redman rocked the shit outta ''dreamin eyes of mine's remix. so when the hard knock life came to denver, d packed his bags and headed west. the results? mixed at best. no one will ever contest that meth and red are stellar artists, it's just that they didn't fit here. i mean the appeal to d is partly based on this rebel danger thing......but the misogynistic verses cut like a knife. d felt it too. after talking to lauryn for an extended period i'm happy to say that q-tip was reinstated.
we did the line in early 98. the working title back then was called ''bullet''. sorta like the way way wu tang calls their lyrics ''darts''. it's a curious song. it tells me that no matter how confident we seem, to be there's always a tinge of doubt lurking in the background. it's here that d addresses the controversy. ''i know the pressure is on, from every angle it's coming, will i hang? or get left hangin? will i fall off? or is it bangin?......
one of our main gripes was...well his, was that he wanted the soul/loverman marvin/ al green shit to stop here. but that doesn't mean that he can't show influence while building his own personality. at close listen one can hear his voice morph into every style of black music from 20's gospel quartet to prince. this is also a debut of a style that i started using called ''mother's son'' style. i jacked it from curtis mayfeild's drummer. he used this ill style in which he would hit the edge of the snare and rim shot at the same time on a song called ''mother's son'' (well what do you know?!!) only bobby z. from prince and the revolution used this style on ''under the cherry moon''. since this song d makes me use this style on all his jams. matter of fact, i think i play the snare all of 3 times on this record. the rest is rim shot funk
''send it on''
here we took a classic melody (from kool and the gang) and turned it into a classic love song. this is a departure from today's slow jams. but this is not the typical retro-time machine travel fodder. this is some love shit for 2000. very polite and sweet. not at all like the monster ''untitled'' will be.
by mid 99 the soulquarians were in full swing (d, me, jaydee, james poyser) and we were working on common's ''like water for chocolate'' when we came up with this lethal jam. it was so good that d pulled me to the side and said ''i ain't no indian giver....but i ain't lettin Com walk off with this song..''
he called me 3 times that morning begging to ask com for that track. com agreed, and we named it ''chicken grease'' after a phrase that prince uses when he wants his guitarist to play a 9th minor chord while playing 16th notes. feelwise we were paying tribute to george clinton. there's the greek chorus thing going on. very loose. reminiscent of ''flashlight''.
''one mo gin''
this is the song of catching up with lost loves and such. real mello. and smooth.
''the root'' ''spanish joint'', and ''great day inna morning''
ok this is the virtuoso part of the record. so intricate that i can't even describe all the technical stuff to you. this features guitar god charlie hunter. charles' gift is a unique one. this mofo plays the guitar and bass at the same time!! no joke!!!! ok well he made the last 2 strings on his guitar bass strings. but know that this song contained no overdubbing. so when you hear the solo's and the bass playing at the same time know that this happened at the same time!!!!!!!!! -
called by most as the best song on the album ''untitled'' (aka ''how does it feel'') is our homage to (the ''controversy'' era) prince. (not the artist). this is done quite tactfully. always finding the line between parody and honesty. plus in an era of ''the cover song'' redoing a prince song was taboo. this is the second best thing. -
ok. now you're gonna know where i jacked that bell sound from ''return to innocence lost''. matter of fact i also jacked my favorite prince jam (''i wonder u'') for the drumming. i also have to say that this is my favorite song on the record. i had to beg d to do this joint. he didn't see this at first because we had already did a song about his son. but i told him the music here fit the mood better.
it's like a bunch of toy boxes playing at once (we took the cover off the rhodes and mic'd 'em) it gives you that sad feeling that ''higher'' gave you on brown sugar a dope song that you don't want to hear because you know that this is the last song you're gonna hear (never fear folks, we got about 30 songs that didn't come out yet) in some time. i know d wanted to do a song that spoke of history. not just to his son. but to god, to africa and the world.
i could go on but you have to hear this to believe it. in closing i just have to say that i'd like to thank d for making this opportunity available to me. by the way ''devil's pie'' just got added. and the lauryn song isn't quite done yet. primo did ''devil's pie'' a song about the money hungry jiggafied state of the world we're in. which you can't eat without ''dough'' ''cream'' ''ice'' ''cheddar'' and ''bread'' (the key ingredients) and how the devil will destroy those who will sell their souls to him.
jaydee did the lauryn track. and it has an al green feel to it mixed with a little ''got til it's gone'' (jaydee did that too...). there's also some interludes from our endless jam sessions as well, most notably the ahmad jamal/ pete rock jam we recreated from the last interlude from pete's main ingredient. we used those interludes to help the masters speak. on one marvin gaye talks about the songwriting process, and the intro is jimi hendrix begging his audience to just ''forget everything that happened yesterday, or today.....we are just making our own little place just give us that..'' we have others but i don't know if they'll get used or not. anyway. this is the in depth ''voodoo'' report from the inside. i hope you enjoy it. just have an open mind to new shit. just give us that...........