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Breaking Down: The Souls of Mischief's "A Name I Call Myself" (1993)
One of my great loves in hip-hop production is the "beat suite" where a single song might switch up tracks — either partly or completely — several times throughout the song. The first example I really remember was The Beatnuts' "2-3 Break" but there's been many different examples through the years. My dude Robbie Ettelson of Unkut.com helpfully compiled a batch of his favorites a few years back.
I was recently listening to the Rotary Connection's excellent cover of "Respect" and it reminded me how the Souls of Mischief had used the fuzzed out psych guitar at the beginning of "Respect" for part of "A Name I Call Myself" (off '93 Til Infinity) and that lead me to listen to that song again (it had been a while) and maybe it's because I was a touch...uh, enhanced that I finally realized that "A Name I Call Myself" was a partial beat suite, much like Del's "Burnt," a B-side recorded by Del, featuring members of the Hieroglyphics, that appeared on the flip of the "Mistadobalina" 12". "Burnt" offers a bigger bounty as it switches up the main track at least 4-5 times (while still using the same drums throughout) but "A Name I Call Myself" rotates through its own quartet of primary samples as well, all done over an inventive flip on the classic "Synthetic Substitution" drums. Del is given full production credit for the track which was surprising since "Burnt" was produced by committee (Del, A+, Casual, Opio & Tajai). Regardless, after a few repeated spins of "A Name I Call Myself," I decided to sit down and give the song a Sliced treatment.
Basics: "A Name I Call Myself" is comprised of five primary elements.
- Drums, as noted, are a one-bar chop of Melvin Bliss's "Synthetic Substitution."
- The first main sample we hear is a two-bar loop from Freddie Hubbard's CTI song, "Sky Dive."
- The second primary sample, which is used both for the song's two choruses and elsewhere, is a sped-up, two-bar loop from "Early Autumn," by the Soul Flutes, also off CTI.
- The third sample, which pops up twice, is the aforementioned "Respect" by Rotary Connection from their Cadet Concept album, Songs.
- The fourth sample only shows up once, to underscore Opio's second verse : "A River's Invitation" by guitarist Freddy Robinson from his Off the Cuff album. (Note: the same bass line loop ended up powering the Domino-produced "Follow the Funk" off of Casual's Fear Itself debut).
- There's a fifth sample, only used for two bars, that jumps in around 3:21 in the song and I'm still not sure what the source of that is. It doesn't sound like it's from any of the other sample sources.