Author Archives: CKUT Music Coordinator

dj khaled

Free Samples: How DJ Khaled Dominated the Summer

 

While we can all thank Justin Bieber for teaching us how to speak Spanish this summer, DJ Khaled also had his fair share of success these past few months. The Miami producer’s tenth studio album Grateful debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and has remained in the top four for the past six weeks. The album has now been certified gold. His smash hit “Wild Thoughts” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards including “Video of the Year.” If that wasn’t enough, the chart-topping “I’m the One” featuring Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo and Lil Wayne has now been certified three times platinum. So basically, if you wanted to sum up Summer 2k17 in a sentence or two, the words “DJ Khaled” would definitely be in there — along with “hangover” (but maybe that’s just me).

too short“For Free” feat. Drake (2016)
Song Sampled: “Blow the Whistle” by Too Short (2006)

The lead single off Khaled’s previous album Major Key, “For Free” samples lyrics and cadences from Too Short’s “Blow the Whistle” and interpolates Akinyele’s 1996 track “Fuck Me For Free.” In addition, one of Drake’s verses references Kendrick Lamar’s song “For Free? (Interlude)” off To Pimp a Butterfly with the line, “and like your boy from Compton said/You know this dick ain’t free.” The track is the fourth collaboration between DJ Khaled and Drake, following “No New Friends,” “I’m On One,” and “Fed Up.” Khaled claims he received Drake’s second verse while shooting the album cover for Major Key. He said, “I had a real lion on the album cover. I was sitting on the throne, and the lion was right here. Drake texts me with the second verse done. Mind you, I’m shooting my album cover, the lion is in front of me, and I’m on the throne. I swear on everything this is a true story. I even snapped and said, “The Drake vocals came in!” And the lion roars. This is all real. I’m not lying! You can go document and go find this. I thought that was so powerful and spiritual and amazing. I couldn’t sleep at night until it was done.”

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“To the Max” feat. Drake (2017)
Song Sampled: “Gus Get Em Right” by Jay-O (2015), among others

DJ Khaled began teasing the song on his Instagram, asking if “the Drake vocals came in yet,” attempting to recreate the success of their previous collaboration. Most of the “To The Max” production is a sped up sample of Jay-O’s “Gus Get Em Right,” which is heard prominently in the intro, chorus and outro of the song. The track also contains a sample of T2’s “Heartbroken” and sounds very similar to DJ Jayhood’s 2007 remix of the song, which the New Jersey beat-maker claims has “the exact same chops.” He wrote on Twitter: “I don’t want to say Drake DJ Khaled stole my ‘Heartbroken’ track.. I don’t own the sample but they were inspired.” Jayhood then went on to say that he respects both Drake and Khaled and that there is no “bad blood.” In an interview with The Fader, Jayhood said, “It was definitely sampled from the version I did. The chops are not the same from the original, it’s from the one I did. My drop is even in there.” T2 later confirmed that he was asked by Khaled’s team if they could sample the song, and although he agreed, he claims he hadn’t officially signed anything to approve the sample. “That was a bit of a surprise,” he said upon hearing the track. “I was not aware it was going to come out. I need to speak to people there [his publishers Sony/ATV] to get a clearer picture.”

 

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 “Shining” feat. Beyoncé and Jay-Z (2017)
Song Sampled: “Dionne” by Osunlade (2013)

Released as a surprise single right after the 2017 Grammy Awards came to a close, this track samples “Dionne” by Osunlade, which itself uses Dionne Warwick’s 1970 tune “Walk the Way You Talk.” DJ Khaled came up with the idea for the song while at a restaurant a week after his son was born: “I was at Nobu eating and I heard this sample. I put my phone up and I Shazam’d it [saying] ‘Man, this is my single!’ [Then] we went in the studio and we flipped it. So we sampled it and we chopped it up […] and it ended up being a masterpiece.” After signing a management deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation early last year, Khaled presented the beat to the rapper at the entertainment company’s Christmas party:

“I just got to do ‘I Got The Keys’ with him, so I ain’t wanna ask him for another record;          but I knew the record was so dope so I’m like ‘Let me play it for you.’ And the first 20,
30 seconds he was bopping his head, I seen him already rhyming in his head. And after I   played him the record I was like ‘Yo, I know the answer is “No,” but if you wanna play this to your wife, man, that’d be dope.’ I remember I was at the Roc Nation Christmas party [and] Beyonce came up to me and she was like ‘Yo, I like that record.’ I damn near   passed out! I was just speechless […] So, what happened was the night before the Grammys, Jay-Z hit me up and said ‘Record done.’ Meanwhile I was wondering if they were even gonna record it. So I had kept that beat and that vibe and I didn’t touch it. I was gonna hope that, you know what, my prayers are gonna come true. [It was] meant to be. I knew they liked it, but I didn’t want to keep asking them because they’re two big people. I just let the vibe take control.”

Khaled and his team then mixed, mastered, cleared the samples and got Jay and Bey’s approval all in less than 24 hours before dropping the record. Sounds like a Christmas miracle if you ask me.


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”Wild Thoughts” feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller (2017)
Song Sampled: “Maria Maria” by Santana feat. Wyclef Jean (1999)

A serious contender for this year’s Song of the Summer, “Wild Thoughts” heavily samples the main riff from Carlos Santana’s 1999 smash hit “Maria Maria” featuring Fugees frontman Wyclef Jean. During Grateful‘s recording, Khaled invited Tiller to his house for dinner and played him the initial demo of “Wild Thoughts,” asking him if he could do something with the song. Tiller returned home, quickly recorded his verse and sent it to the producer who used it on the final recording. As for Santana’s reaction to the track, the latin guitarist said he was “honoured” that Khaled, Rihanna and Tiller “shared this summer vibe with the world.” He went on to say that “there is a reason that the infectious groove/theme that Wyclef and I created on ‘Maria Maria’ still resonates today. It speaks to the heart. DJ Khaled, Rihanna and Bryson take that vibe and bring it to a new dimension with ‘Wild Thoughts,’ but the groove and essence of the song is still intact” — which is exactly what a good sample should do.

– Matthew Martino

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: August 15, 2017

 

Hi folks,
We’re gearing up for back-to-school, Reggae Fest, and MUTEK — I swear, there never a dull moment in this city… I also got to catch excellent local sound-benders Urlapse the other night, highly recommended for those with brave ears! Tell me what you’re listening to these days?
xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Throughout the month of August, we’re continuing to highlight performers from this year’s edition of MUTEK on our residency program The Montreal Sessions. Tune inevery Tuesday from 3-pm for a wide range of performers and curators from this true heavyweight of the electronic festival scene. Can’t catch the shows live? Find the full audio for stream or download here.

:::CHARTS:::

ckut top 30 – august 15, 2017
1. sound of the mountain – amplified clarinet & trumpet – mystery and wonder CC *
2. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
3. tiny vipers – laughter – ba da bing!
4. markus floats – first album – self-released CC *
5. yoo doo right – ep2 – second best records CC * Continue reading

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: August 8, 2017

Hello everyone,

I went sailing for the first time over the weekend and learned some important things, like why you shouldn’t always take the bait when your friends dare you to jump in a very cold river first thing in the morning. Life lessons aside, it was a really excellent trip and it felt great to get out of the city for a bit. It’s tough to come back to reality after that kind of voyage!
xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Tune in to Gotsoul Sessions on Saturday, August 12th from 2-4pm to hear Miss Benn & the rest of the crew live from Under Pressure. We’ll be broadcasting from the Fresh Paint Gallery and talking to the artists involved in the Queens Creation & Out For Fame exhibits and some of the amazing folks who have been making this kickass music & arts extravaganza happen for the last 22 years. If you miss the live broadcast, don’t sweat it — you can find full audio on our website right here.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – august 8, 2017

1. foonyap – apropos – self-released CC
2. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
3. do make say think – stubborn persistent illusions – constellation CC
4. the pink noise – subtext – not unlike CC *
5. yoo doo right – ep2 – second best records CC * Continue reading

jayz

Free Samples: Jay-Z’s R-Rated Gospel

Jay-Z’s long anticipated thirteenth studio album 4:44 finally arrived late last month and it has already topped the Billboard 200 chart. After a four-year hiatus, the LP is getting high praises from the hip-hop community and reminding listeners of all genres why Hov is without a doubt one of the greatest rappers of all time. Last month Jay also made history by becoming the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (which he could not attend because Beyoncé just happened to be giving birth to their twins). So, it’s safe to say that Jay-Z’s summer is probably going a lot better than yours.

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“Dead Presidents” (1996)
Song Sampled: “A Garden of Peace” by Lonnie Liston Smith (1983), among others

The breakout single off Jay’s debut album Reasonable Doubt, this track was certified gold just a few short months after its release. The song samples Lonnie Liston Smith’s “A Garden of Peace” for the main melody and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Oh My God (remix)” for its percussion, while the chorus is a sample of Nas rapping “I’m out for dead presidents to represent me,” from his 1994 song “The World Is Yours (Tip Mix).” Nas was originally invited to perform the chorus for Jay-Z and appear in the track’s music video, but he declined and thus began their public feud. Nas confronted Jay in his track “Stigmatic Freestyle” stating, “You show off, I count dough off when you sample my voice.” Jay-Z then responded in the song “Takeover” with the lines: “So yeah, I sampled your voice; you was usin’ it wrong/You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song/And you ain’t get a coin nigga you was gettin’ fucked then/I know who I paid God, Serchlite Publishing.” Their feud officially ended in 2005 at Jay-Z’s I Declare War concert, when they performed “Dead Presidents II” together.

annie jay z“Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” [1998]

Song Sampled: “It’s the Hard Knock Life” from Annie (1982)

This is undoubtedly the song that skyrocketed Jay-Z to fame. It samples a high-pitched version of the musical number “It’s the Hard Knock Life” from the 1982 film Annie, which is fitting as Jay raps about his rags-to-riches story. The song peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 41st Grammy Awards in 1999. Of the track’s inspiration, he says: “[One of my sister’s name is Andrea], but we call her Annie. That’s how the Annie sample came about. When I seen that on TV, I was like, ‘Annie?’ And then, I watched the movie. […] Any person that goes from ashy to classy or, you know, is from the orphanage or the projects—it’s pretty similar.” Jay later wrote in his memoir Decoded that in order to clear the sample, he sent a letter to the song’s copyright holders, lying about how he had seen the musical on Broadway as a child and written a competition-winning essay on it at school.

Jackson 5.

“Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” (2001) 

Song Sampled: “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 (1969)

The first collaboration between Jay-Z and Kanye West, this track prominently features a sample of “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5. The song’s main hook, “H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A” uses the -izzle language code (which was invented by E-40 and popularized by Snoop Dogg) to spell out “H.O.V.A.” in reference to one of Jay-Z nickname “Hova,” which is play on God’s name (as in “Jehovah”, aka “Yahweh” aka “Hashem”). Jay debuted the song during the 2001 BET Awards and producer Kanye West explained that it was one of the defining moments in his life:

“I was on the phone with my girl, and she just started screaming, and my two-way                  [pager] started blowing up. I was just thinking, ‘Damn.’ That was like the time in the                [movie] ‘Five Heartbeats’ when they heard their song on the radio and they start running      through the crib. If they ever do a movie about me, that’s one of the spots they’re gonna      have to put in the movie. This song is really gonna change my life […] Until an artist of          [Jay-Z’s] caliber co-signs for you, the industry doesn’t believe in your skills. Now they              know.”

Kanye referenced this track on his 2004 song “Through the Wire” about his near-fatal car accident: “That right there could drive a sane man berserk/Not to worry, Mr. H-to-the-Izzo’s back to wi-zerk.”

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Billy Squier  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 01: Photo of Billy Squier (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“99 Problems” (2004)
Song Sampled: “The Big Beat” by Billy Squier (1980), among others

In Decoded, Jay writes that he used “99 Problems” to confuse critics by hiding a deeper meaning behind its superficial chorus. The hook “I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one” was taken from the Ice-T single “99 Problems” off his album Home Invasion (1993). Jay’s track was produced by legendary beat-maker Rick Rubin, who provided Hov with a guitar riff and stripped-down beat derived from “The Big Beat” by Billy Squier, “Long Red” by Mountain, and “Get Me Back On Time” by Wilson Pickett. “The guitars were a combination of old records that were sped up or slowed down, scratched in, or in some cases, we played guitars and then made a disc and scratched them in with a digital turntable. It was all processed and made new,” Rubin said of the track’s production. He recalled that it was comedian Chris Rock who was the inspiration for the song. Rock told Rubin about Ice-T’s track and its catchy hook and was convinced that Jay could make an even better song out of it. Said Rubin, “I told that to Jay, and he wrote the song based on the title. The idea was, it’s the opposite song. In the Ice-T original song, it’s all about the girls. Our idea was, ‘OK, this will be a song with the same hook about the problems.'”

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“Ni**as in Paris” with Kanye West (2011) 

Audio Sampled: Dialogue from film Blades of Glory (2007)

Fun fact: Will Ferrell is featured in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest hip-hop songs of all time. Inspired by Kanye West’s travels in Paris, the iconic song’s production was originally offered to rapper Pusha T by producer Hit-Boy. Pusha turned it down, claiming “it sounds like a video game. Get that shit out of here!” Then Jay and Ye got their hands on it and the track went platinum just under two months after it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, just shy of two months after the album’s release. The smash hit also racked in the trophies, winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. During the Watch The Throne tour, the two would perform this track multiple times at each concert. The crowds loved it. When they reached Paris, it was performed 12 times in a row. Talk about balling hard.

– Matthew Martino

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: August 1, 2017

Hi folks,

I’m back in the office after a nice trip out west to visit family — spent a lot of time kayaking, biking, and hanging at the beach. Managed to avoid the forest fires, thankfully, and only had a couple smoky days during my stay… feeling very lucky about that. Now I’m back in the office, struggling through jetlag and some weird internet sketchiness thanks to system upgrades at McGill. These updates are impacting our internet connections and also our phone lines, so if you try to reach me and don’t get through please try again later this week.

Charts below reflect the past couple weeks of programming here, and there’s only a top 30 because it’s hard to compile genre charts when all your databases are down due to the aforementioned internet issues. :(
Apologies! Things should be back to normal next week.

Hope you’re all having a great summer!

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Sylvain Bouthilette, renowned visual artist and bass player for the legendary hardcore band Bliss, hosts If You Got Ears every Wednesday in August from noon till 2pm. As a break from our usual sound-art extravaganza during the Ears timeslot, we’re taking a left turn and venturing into the world of dub: drawing surprising lines between dub and minimalist composition, this residency will stretch your eardrums and minds into new & unexpected territory. Dub is spiritual, dub is cosmic, dub is political, dub is introspection, dub is action, dub is on the barricades and is a voice of resistance. From the Jamaican mothership, the British Stepper style and the international scene, Sylvain will be exploring all of its aspects and wants to bring you along for the ride. Dig it Wednesdays at noon, only on ckut.ca.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – august 1, 2017

1. do make say think – stubborn persistent illusions – constellation CC
2. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
3. white hills – stop mute defeat – thrill jockey
4. not you – misty – fundog CC
5. jessica moss – pools of light – constellation CC * Continue reading

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: July 18, 2017

Hi friends,

I was lucky enough to catch fantastic Montreal expats Steve Jr (above) last week — they don’t make it up here very often and they totally killed it, as per usual. The night afterwards I also got to see Vancouver punks Cloaca rip it up with locals Rivalled Envy and Total Bliss… trying to get my fix of live music before I head out west to hang in the country with family for a bit. And that bring us to, yep, you guess it, VACATION ALERT: I will not be in the office from July 20th – 31st inclusive. Email if you like, but I will have limited internet access out on Anarchist Mountain. Charts and tracking will resume when I’m back in town. Thanks in advance for your cooperation in helping me and my inbox get a bit of chill time this summer.

Peace
xo
joni

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – july 18, 2017

1. united waters – the narrows – drawing room records
2. fiver – audible songs from rockwood – idee fixe CC
3. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
4. guerilla toss – gt ultra – dfa
5. aim low – scratched out – amplitude ambitions CC * Continue reading

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Concert Review: (Sandy) Alex G & Japanese Breakfast @ Le Ritz PDB

I couldn’t have picked a better way to celebrate America’s birthday. Kicking things off was Cende: simple, no-nonsense pop music played at a deafaning volume. Bouyed by their youthful energy and unpolished style, they ripped through a short set of formulaic yet enjoyable tunes. Following up, Japanese Breakfast slowed it down a notch with their slinky psych jams, tasteful bass riffs and shiny synth bouncing around underneath the ever-yearning lead vocals.

When the hour was upon us, the chorus of ‘Life is a Highway’ rattled the Ritz soundsystem as Alex and his band rolled onstage. The music hit fast and hard, coursing through the audience and uniting the room within moments with an impressive sense of command, especially for such a relatively young group. The majority of the set was dedicated to his latest album Rocket, including the early standout track ‘Bobby’ and its welcome addition of fiddle to the band’s instrumentation. Though much gentler on the album, the live addition of a stomping drumbeat allowed the song to hit even harder than I thought possible, leaving the crowd torn between head-bobbing and slow-dancing.

The songs are chunky and essential, like semi-polished stones, always build around the core of Alex’s raw voice. He sings mostly through clenched teeth, every measured note spat out, hints of the reserved energy that’s being held back. Only once did the dam breach, during an incredible rendition of ‘Brick’ — an explosive track in which he suddenely erupts in a scream as the guitars howl and rage only to drop away after a minute, giving way to the next piano-driven ballad.

Being an avid listener for years and having followed the group for some time, I can vouch that the presence of 2017 (Sandy) Alex G is immediately undeniable. The band is at its most fluid, less buttoned-down than ever, and with a masterful command of Alex’s expansive discography. They closed out the set by spending near half an hour just taking requests from the audience, not once balking at a buried gem from the depths of his Bandcamp but rather dropping into it confidently at a moment’s notice. The generosity of this final act may have dragged on too long for those less invested in the music, but for the fans it was glorious.

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: July 11, 2017

Hi folks,

I’ve been lying low over the past week fighting a gnarly cold (do they feel extra wicked in the summer, or is it just me…?)
However, I did make it out for a rad show last week celebrating a friend’s birthday, featuring ßtaß (above) and many others — it was a pretty all-star local crew fitting of the special occasion. Definitely worth leaving the house for!

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
For the month of July, local music-makers and pigeon enthusiasts Parker Finley, Sydney Lee, Rachel Nam, and Jess ManniquinHead (of MagicPerm and Lonely Boa) are hosting the Montreal Sessions. Tune in for a playlist chock full of local bands, ranging from chillwave to new wave to no wave and more. The series will also featuring live performances by Respectful Child, Lonely Boa, and plenty of others that you’ll need to tune in to catch… You know what to do: listen live each Tuesdayfrom 3-5pm, only on CKUT 90.3 FM and ckut.ca

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – july 11, 2017

1. corridor – supermercado – michel records CC *
2. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
3. guerilla toss – gt ultra – dfa
4. v/a – pentagon black compilation no. 3 – pentagon black CC *
5. best fern – covers ep – self-released CC * Continue reading

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Free Samples: Kendrick Lamar’s Poetry and Politics

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I decided to take a page out of Kendrick Lamar’s book with this article. Much like the Compton rapper did with his fourth studio album, DAMN., after completing my first three pieces for CKUT, I took more time than usual to craft the latest instalment of Free Samples. (The fact that I was on vacation for the past two weeks with limited wifi access obviously had nothing to do with it). However, unlike DAMN., I doubt this article will go on to win a slew of awards, sell millions of copies, or leave a lasting impact on its genre and pop culture as a whole. Just a hunch.

Known for his clever lyricism and bold subject matter, Kendrick has sampled everything from a 2015 Fox News report to Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic,” making him one of the most unique and prominent voices in rap today.

 

alicia keys“Compton State of Mind” (2009)
Song Sampled: “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys (2009)

Almost a parody of sorts, Kendrick puts his own spin on Jay-Z’s love letter to the Big Apple. Borrowing the beat and hook from the smash hit featuring Alicia Keys on vocals, Kendrick paints a gritty picture of the notorious LA suburb, while also making it clear that he’s “just a good kid hoping [he] can spread love.” Kendrick reworks the chorus of Jay-Z’s track from “In New York/Concrete jungle where dreams are made of/There’s nothing you can’t do/Now you’re in New York/These streets will make you feel brand new/Big lights will inspire you” to “Compton, concrete jungle where dreams are made of/There’s nothin’ you can’t do/Now you’re in Compton/These streets will make you or break you/Expire or inspire you.” Continue reading

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: July 4, 2017

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Hello friends,

Montreal was lucky enough to get a repeat appearance from Les Filles de Illighadad last week, joined by a special guest drummer from Mdou Moctar’s band. Gig of the year? It definitely set the bar pretty high…

xo
joni

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – july 4, 2017

1. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
2. the pink noise – subtext – not unlike CC *
3. not you – misty – fundog CC
4. jessica moss – pools of light – constellation CC *
5. forest swords – compassion – ninja tune  Continue reading