Nathan S. (Refined Hype):
On the real, I give negative seven fucks about French Montana on “Freaks”, or the completely forgettable but at least not actively annoying verse from Nicki Minaj. Except..
…that beat. Goddamn that beat. There’s just no way you can be a longtime hip-hop head and not get slapped in the face with a flood of memories when you hear Chaka Demus & Pliers‘ “Murder She Wrote.”
1994: Chaka Demus & Pliers – “Murder She Wrote”
First things first, “Murder She Wrote” is a go to track – no, scratch that, THE go to track – for club or party DJs looking to infuse their sets with some dancehall, and the dance floor with some winding ladies. Frankly, if you’re a DJ and you don’t have some Demus in your catalog, you’re not a DJ.
Of course that also means producers haven’t been shy over the years about sampling Demus either. The “Murder She Wrote” sample has probably found the most traction, unsurprisingly, with Caribbean and Latin hip-hop artists; Don Omar’s “Hasta Abajo” was a big hit. But it’s also worked its way into some straight up hip-hop, including The Fu-Schnickens (remember them?) “Heavenly Father”, and more recently Kardinal Offishall reached into the crates for his “Ol’ Time Killin” single.
But that’s just the start, and the smaller half. Cutty Ranks grabbed “Murder She Wrote” for his “A Who Seh Me Dun (Limb By Limb)” single way back in ’96, released through hip-hop label Priority, and it’s that version of “Murder” that’s really gotten some use. We’re talking old school shit like Big Daddy Kane’s “Lyrical Gymnastics” and Common’s “Watermelon,” to west coast standards like Dr. Dre’s “Natural Born Killaz” to Mos Def’s lyrical classic, “Mathematics.” And with a pedigree like that, you know ‘90s rap revivalists Joey Bada$$ had to also grab the sample for his breakthrough “Survival Tactics.”
In other words, French isn’t doing anything innovative here, simply traveling the well worn “Murder She Wrote” path – only this time around he’s taking it out of the underground and bringing it to the radio and clubs.
aboynamedandy (Takin’ Mines):
I’ll start my piece by one-upping my counterpart by saying I give minus eight fucks (I’m truly sorry, Nathan) about French Montana and Nicki Minaj’s latest musical sacrifice to the machine, but Rico Love‘s production really does deserves its props. The sample of Chaka Demus & Pliers’ “Murder She Wrote” drives the melody in “Freaks,” but it’s the borrowing of Lil’ Vicious‘ Doug E. Fresh-produced (I say “produced,” but that really doesn’t do justice to how Doug mastered the shit out of that ol’ beat boxing craft) 1994 track of the same name which delivers the initial dose of nostalgia.
Lil’ Vicous & Doug E. Fresh – “Freaks”
Doug’s vocalized boom bap provides the blueprint for Rico’s drums, while Vicious’ Jamaican twang opens the song, drives the hook and adds more spice to the dancehall-indebted, body-moving magic of “Freaks.” The Caribbean roots run deeper yet, though; Vicious’ original “Freaks” sources its base melody from Admiral Tibet‘s much-slower “Serious Time,” taken from his 1987 debut LP, Come Into the Light.
French Montana (feat. Nicki Minaj) – “Freaks” (prod. by Rico Love)
All in all, Rico Love has done a great job of channeling classic dancehall to the clubs of 2013, but we still wish French and Nicki weren’t ruining it with their equally-as-loathsome flows. Someone link us to the instrumental, stat.