I've held off commenting until now but, I have to say, this track has really grown on me. I'm still of two minds though... I love Zelda so the gimmick had from the word go, but it feels a bit derivative of Gamin' On Ya, and it's never good when artists start making stuff that's so blatantly derivative of something they did 6 years earlier... I also love the Funky Drummer loop, of course - you have no business listening to hip hop if you don't love that loop - but it's been done, man, soooo many times. They didn't even chop it up to create a new pattern which, on the one hand, I like, but on the other, feels too easy. Kinda like using the Ashley's Roachclip drums and the NT drums on Highlighter...
Having said all of that, I have never dug any of the PUTS singles (yes, that includes Acid Raindrops). Singles were invented to get the attention of as many people as possible, rather than to placate the hardcore fans. I still have faith that 12SP will be the nuts, especially reading from Thes that it's all gonna be back-to-basics loops and beats classic hip hop.
I for one thought Highlighter was a huge disappointment, much as I did with Fun DMC, mainly because I felt it strayed too far from the formula. I remember starting a thread and getting chewed on when Fun DMC came out 'cause I was not a fan of the prolific use of keyboards. I kept my head down when Highlighter came out, but it has pretty much been collecting dust since 2011 now. I love a handful of tracks, am indifferent to most, and will skip over at least five if them. For me the biggest disappointment was how unoriginal the sampling was - Stevie Wonder's As, The Lady in My Life, Gentleman in New York, Moments in Love... come one, that's the kind of obvious ish you'd expect some assclown like Kanye to sample, not the P!
With that in mind, as happy as I am that 12SP will be focussing on the loops, I really hope they surprise us again. I'm kinda thinking the P wouldn't be careless enough to use such obvious samples on a comparatively major (iTunes) release, so fingers crossed...
I already addressed a bit of this back in my mini-essay earlier, but let me just say this (it'll probably still be way too long... sorry 'bout that) :
a) Your opinion:
Again, you like what you like and you understand people will have a different take than you... cool, you won't catch heat from me about any of it.
I don't know what's in Thes' head with regards to what would constitute gimmickry, but I'm GUESSING that Thes One feels that the video gaming thing was an essential part of the lifestyle of some west-coast, stoner-ish hip hop heads growing up during the home gaming / arcade explosion of the late 80's & early 90's, so he's chosen to add those bloops and bleeps to his sample base. Personally, I'm all for expansion. He's not doing a Mega Ran thing and making it a vital part of the repertoire, but he's not afraid to use it. I can see how it would make people take him less seriously, but I don't agree with that stance personally, and I know he doesn't either. The only people I can't take seriously are people who listen to 80's hair rock. (Just kidding.) Thes and Double don't give a flying sh*t about anyone's idea of what hip hop is or isn't. A hardcore fan saying that it has to be an obscure, original jazz loop is just as stupid as a Universal Music Group saying it's gotta be 80% autotune. F*ck both camps. It is what you want it to be.
c) Overusing samples/"Obvious" samples:
This seems to be the main drive of your post. I've never been the right guy to talk to about "biting"... to me, it's more of a feeling than something I can put into words. For instance: if someone were to come out and sample a pop-country track (good god, no!!!) and it worked well and made the guy millions of dollars, then you'd see imitators. To me, that's the essence of a biter. But using something that's been around for years and isn't really a part of an agenda to "be like" another artist isn't really biting to me. Putting the Zelda theme with Funky Drummer is like being the dude who invented chocolate-covered bacon. People love chocolate and it's unoriginal. People love bacon and it's unoriginal... "You want to put WHAT together?!? NO!, DON'T DO IT! DO-- wait... dude, that's amazing!" It's taking two really obvious things and melding them in a not-so-obvious way and coming up with something that makes your head nod. But again, that's me personally.
When I did an interview with PUTS in 2011 after Highlighter was released, here's what they had to say on the subject (sorry if it gets a bit long) :
Sactown: I didn’t think of anything before I actually came here, but I did have one other question that was non-lyrics related. So, when you guys take a transitionary step, like the biggest one was Stepfather, it seems like… and even this one right now, there’s a bit of a transition… and I think there have been two guys that have come on the forums so far, and it hasn’t been negative, but I mean, it’s just kinda been, like, “I don’t know, man. I don’t know if I can follow ‘em on this, this next step.” Do you feel any anger, or do you just kinda say “f*** it”? Do you just not let it… how do you respond to a criticism,or…
Thes One: I mean, it’s…
Sactown: I know it’s a tough question…
Thes One: Naw, naw, it’s a good question. For me, personally, and I’m sure Double K wants to speak on this, too.
When “O.S.T.” came out, right? Me personally… I think both of us… were completely oblivious to the fan response to it. Om kinda kept us in the dark about how many records it was selling, how well it was doing at the time, so we had really no idea that songs like “Acid Raindrops” and “Montego Slay” were quickly becoming fan favorites, right? So, it was years later… I think it was even after Stepfather… actually, us finding out about that was what prompted us leaving Om and going to do Stepfather.
It’s weird when you don’t have… I mean, imagine being in the dark about how people like an album, for two years! Now, we put an album out, and f**king’ ten minutes later, we get everyone’s f**king’ opinion thrown… bombarded on us, right? On one hand, we’re not used to it, so it’s still kinda hard to deal with. Because we read the sh!t, and we’re like… we go…
Double K: “What?!?”
Thes One: Yeah! We go “What the f*** are you talking about?”… out loud, like “What the f*** do you mean?” or whatever. Obviously, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but I feel like, personally, if someone can’t get with Highlighter, but can get with the earlier sh!t? Maybe they’re better of listening to just those records and a bunch of other groups who kinda sound like that. Because that’s part of the thing: we’re trying to avoid… we’re on our own musical journey, and we’re growing…
Double K: We’re musicians first. And I don’t wanna say it like this, but it has nothing to do with hip-hop when it comes to us. We’re musicians, man. Me and this dude, we don’t listen to hip hop. If we do, that means the hip hop we’re listening to is funny as sh!t, you know? We wanna laugh at it. But we’re musicians, man. We wanna push it all the time.
Sactown: Sure, and the fan has to be willing to take the journey with you.
Thes One: Right! And…
Sactown: And if they’re not willing to take the journey, then…
Double K: f*** ‘em!
Thes One: Then they shouldn’t be on the fan forum, talking about, “Oh, uh… I think, you know… I’m not really sure about this.”
Double K: Who the f*** are you to be say you’re not sure about this? Don’t buy it then!
Thes One: ‘Cause the only reason someone would say that is if they really liked a particular song or something prior, and if you really liked that sh!t so much, then go back and f**king’ listen to it! ‘Cause how many times can we make your f**king’… the same song. We’re not gonna do it.
Sactown: It’s not gonna be just a new album full of “Youth Explosion” and “Zignaflyinblow”…
Thes One: Right. Because the thing is… look, I know what it’s like to…
Double K: That was the time. We did that, and it’s done.
Thes One: I mean, there were groups that made weird steps on their second record, and they lost me a little bit, but the fact of the matter is… no matter what we’ve changed, we haven’t made a huge f**king’ jump like that. We haven’t changed the line-up. We’re still making all the f**king’ beats. We’re talking about slight changes. “Oh, you guys don’t sample enough jazz records anymore!” “Oh, really!”
Double K: Yeah. “Oh, really!”
Thes One: I read something, someone was talking about “Oh, what happened to all the crate diggin’? I see you guys sampling sh!t that everyone knows now.” And my only thing was, like “Yo, if you’re really that dope… yeah, you know what the obvious sh!t is on our record. Tell me what the other sh!t is!
Double K: Right!
Thes One: You know? “Tell me what The Second Track is, motherfucker, ‘cause that’s a record. Find that sh!t!”
Double K: They’re all records. Of course, me and this dude, we dig, and we got all the… we got a-a-a-all the records. You know, we want all the rare sh!t, but we love the sh!t that we all grew up on.
Sactown: “As” by Steve Wonder? That sh!t’s the… I put that on my wedding mixtape.
Double K: That’s my favorite f**king’ song in the world! I’m glad that sh!t got to get… I mean, we ain’t got to pay for it, I hope, but we know… I thank god that this dude liked the beat and I was like “Word, that’s my favorite song of all time.”
Sactown: Yeah, that’s going on. Michael Jackson on that last track?
Double K: Yeah, we grew up to that sh!t.
Thes One: I miss that sh!t.
Double K: We didn’t grow up to Bob James or rare jazz records. We grew up to that sh!t, so…
Thes One: One of the things…
Some random dude walks in to the green room, nabs something off the snack table, and walks out.
Double K: Who the f*** was that?
Thes One: We got all this sh!t in here.
Double K and Sactown crack up.
Thes One: I miss having… when we were coming into hip hop, before all the crate diggin’, all this sh!t… you know, “Good Times”! I recognize it. Guys are rapping over it. f***ing awesome! You know? When I heard K-Solo, and I heard the “Before I let…”, I was like “Oh ,sh!t! My parents liked this song!” Frankie Beverly and Maze… That brought me into hip hop, right? I kinda felt like, with the youngest generation… like the 15-year old kids we’re about to go out to… I think it’s a great idea to bring that element of hip hop back. Being rare and obscure is all good and great, but then again, you’re not making yourself a part of this thing that’s hip hop, where you steal an old disco record or an old record and make a new song. It’s becoming something different at that point. As far as production-wise… I know Mike feels the same way… I’m f***ing unapologetic about that sh!t. You recognize it? Good, that’s the point! That’s the f***ing point! “Oh, it’s Nirvana!” “No sh!t, Sherlock!”
Double K: Right! “No f***ing sh!t!”
Thes One: That’s the point! We made it sound like something different.
d) "Straying from the Formula":
I'm a bit with east wittering about being confused that you say you think they are overusing classic samples and then say that they are straying from a formula... so, then I have to ask (and I'm just trying to get to where you're head's at
, not trying to be a d*ck or anything): do you feel that hip hop necessarily needs to have a set of rules (i.e., a "formula") but at the same time always be original? That's a fine line, homie! A formula-following game-changer is cool, but when you look at something that bends genres out of shape (maybe like... Rage Against The Machine... I guess...), you find new and exciting things, and I think Thes and Double feel like that "golden age hip hop" or "alternative hip hop" label is something they don't want and have never wanted, so I'm not sure that having them stick to rules is such a good idea, and I don't think they'd think that was very hip hop.
e) Highlighter/Fun DMC/singles:
I'm a huge fan of both albums and the majority of PUTS single catalog. Again, what you see as unoriginal or maybe not as formulaic, I see as going back to the roots of what gave hip hop it's start, or making an attempt to broaden the definition beyond what people have come to expect hip hop to NEED. I don't really think there are many people our there who are qualified to say what hip hop is or isn't. Certainly not me.
Much respect, homie. Hope you don't perceive any slights up here^^^, cause they're aren't any!