Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gangstarr Adjusted

Gangstarr's "Gotta Get Over (Taking Loot)" was originally released as part of the soundtrack to Trespass, one of those movies made during that brief time-period where soundtracks were so lucrative, that whole films were produced on the cheap just so they could market the albums. I did see it at the time - as I recall, it was about a couple of guys (including a less famous Bill Paxton) who discover gold in the middle of some drug dealing gang's territory... eventually everybody shoots everybody, and the deep message is "greed is bad and some people really shouldn't have guns."

But forget about the movie (the rest of the world has); the important part, as I say, is the soundtrack, on Sire Records. Now, it's mostly a west coast affair, featuring artists like Ice-T, WC and The Penthouse Players' Clique (which I'm not saying is a bad thing, mind you - I'm a PPC fan), but it includes two stand-out east coast songs, Lord Finesse's "You Know What I'm About" and Gangstarr's "Gotta Get Over." Sire Records put out a single or two (AMG's "Don't Be a 304" was the big one), but "Gotta Get Over" was such a stand-out track that Gangstarr's label, Chrysalis Records, picked it up and released it as a single themselves.

"Gotta Get Over" features one of the most memorable basslines in hip-hop history. Couple that with Guru being on a more hardcore, street edge than usual, and Premier's pro cuts and horn samples, and you've got a Gangstarr classic that rivals any of their greatest singles. But this 12" takes it further, and includes, in addition to the album version, a brand new Large Professor remix. Now on a song this great, a remix really isn't needed - who's going to stop playing the original, which nailed it perfectly, to spin an alternate version? But now many years have passed, I think we can go back and this excellent production by Extra P. No, of course it doesn't top the original; but taken on its own, it's a great track. It keeps the aesthetic of the original, dominating the tune with a dope, memorable bassline. It's not the same bassline at all, but it's used in the same spirit and is similarly accentuated by Guru's voice. But in this case, the remix really comes to life on the hook, when these ill samples come in... it actually reminds me of the kind of stuff RNS provided for the first UMCs album.

So you've got both versions of "Gotta Get Over" on here, plus the remix instrumental. But turn it over and you've got another Gangstarr cut. This time it's for "Flip the Script" off the Daily Operation album. You've got two mixes on here: the Album Mix and the "Remix/ Minor Adjustment Mix," also by Premier. "Flip the Script" was always one of my favorite cuts off that album, the loop has this really hard chop to it that's almost broken but sounds great. And this new version maintains that. In fact, considering the name, you might think that the "Minor Adjustment" remix would be one of those where you have to keep your ear to the speaker just to suss out the distinction; but actually it's apparent. The piano keys that make up the bassline are switched out with new ones comprised of more notes, giving the song a richer vibe, almost more like live music. The other big difference is the addition to a new high-pitched, heavy metal guitar sample being scratched and looped into the track. It's hard to single out one as better than the other, really; I think it just boils down to a question of whether you prefer a busier, more complex beat or the rawer, simpler original.

Regardless, this is a pretty sweet 12", and right up there with Gangstarr's classics. It's a good thing Chrysalis was smart enough to license the song and commission release, or we fans would've really missed out.

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