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Production Breakdown: Styles P & Green Lantern’s “Shadows”

Posted by Richard on 01/29/10 | Filed under Features, Production Breakdown, Styles P, Green Lantern
Styles P DJ Green Lantern The Green Ghost Project Cover
Let me just start off by saying, it sucks to be right – sort of right, anyways. I'm talking, of course, about Rebirth, which was, as I (and everyone with ears) predicted, pretty awful. I say “sort of” because it wasn't hilariously or memorably awful, it was just lame. It was sort of like an accident on the freeway, in that I just had to satisfy my curiosity about how bad it was, but listening to it again would be sort of like pulling over and pitching a tent a few yards away from the crash site just so I could keep staring at the wreckage. Creepy.

So that's that. Or maybe not – to be honest, I started this column with close to no idea where I was headed. But, hey, let's talk about Styles P. & DJ Green Lantern's “Shadows,” featured yesterday over on the Booth. The final leak on Styles and Green Lantern's collaborative Green Ghost Project (due out this coming Tuesday), the track boasted some insanely fresh boardwork by East Coast heavyweight Statik Selektah.

While Chipmunk-sampled hip-hop records are, of course, nothing new, the instrumental used in “Shadows” struck me immediately as something unique – I couldn't even put my finger on what genre of song it came from. As it turns out, the silky-smooth orchestral groove was taken from “Old and Wise,” an '82 single by The Alan Parsons Project.



The prog/soft rock group's reverb-drenched, elaborately arranged style is almost nothing like anything in the popular music scene today (although some of the material on Kid CUDi's debut full-length skirted along the edge of that sound); and, to be honest, I was only vaguely aware of their existence till I looked them up yesterday afternoon. That, in my eyes, makes them a perfect sample target (and quite a few notable artists agree, according to whosampled.com); the original track may be a little maudlin and overblown to today's ears (mine, anyway), but sped up and fortified with upbeat percussion, the source material gains new life.

Recontextualization of other musical genres and works is a key element of hip-hop, and I think it's often the distance between a record and its inspiration/source material, whether chronological or stylistic, that makes said record work – or at least makes the interplay fun and exciting. With Rebirth (which I consider part of the hip-hop world, even if it's not a hip-hop album per se), Weezy tried to stake his claim to a style that lived one or two radio stations down from his (if that), and ended up with what was essentially parody. Needless to say, that doesn't mean that rock and hip-hop (or any genre) can't intermingle in cool, not-terrible ways; they do constantly. It's just that when producers and artists reach a little deeper or farther back – as on Shadows and, for that matter, Man on the Moon – we often don't raise an eyebrow, except to remark that the sound is fresh and new.

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