Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Global funk connections: Towa Tei / J-Dilla

The art of sampling in modern music gets a lot of bad press, and its not hard to see why. Folks like Puff Daddy got rich quick by ripping off obvious samples and bringing very little creativity to the table, thus inflicting upon us some really bad, derivative music.

Yet sampling has its good side, and some exponents of the sampling art are so good that they inspire others to sample them, or better yet, to have live musicians interpreting their work, which originally sampled live musicians - the process of creative inspiration coming full circle.

Here's an example. Take the following track by, "Technova" by Towa Tei, the Japanese DJ best known as a former member of Dee-Lite. This is a well-cool track on which he enlists the sultry vocals of Brazilian chanteuse Bebel Gilberto, with whom all bossa nova fans will be familiar. It comes from his 1996 album "Future Listening".

One fan was obviously the late hip-hop uber-producer J-Dilla, who sampled it in 1998 for A Tribe Called Quest's song "Find a Way" (from The Love Movement album).

After Dilla's passing in 2006, Carlos Nino and Miguel Attwood Ferguson released "Suite For Ma Dukes", an orchestral tribute to the music of J-Dilla. The highlight is their exquisite rendering of "Find a Way". It's an interesting journey taken by a slice of music originally performed by a Japanese DJ/producer and a legendary Brazilian singer.

Listen to Carlos Nino & Miguel Attwood Ferguson - "Find A Way"

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