I wore the cassette of The Cactus Al/bum out in my ride as a late teen. Still reeling from the onslaught of white boy rap by the Beastie Boys, I embraced 3rd Bass like they were my distant cousins. Serch’s high top fade and Chess King fashions appealed to me as I had yet to find myself, lost somewhere between The Bones Brigade, Surfer magazine and what I thought was South Jersey Hip Hop culture. I was obsessed with his NYC attitude and Prime Minister Pete Nice’s cane, pimp limp, and bravado, and I thought I could attain it by playing this record on repeat. Perhaps it was the dark beats, the Little Rascals samples, or the fact that 3rd Bass painted a very clear picture of the far away (but not so far away) culture of NYC that kept my curiosity peaked. Maybe it was the fact that I got a high top fade (and I mean Scoob Lover high top fade) that I thought Serch and I were kindred spirits. Side note: I am a white guy with no business or hair texture to have a high top fade. I used a lot of hair products to keep that thing up. Now the Beasties were my all time, and at the time, I had no idea of the war between the two that was going on behind the scenes at Def Jam. There is a reason why the Beasties kept going. There is no way that they could fit the bill of “Sons of 3rd Bass” as they were called, and looking back, if I had known what I know now, I might have felt different about the band. All I knew was that I dug the beats put together by Prince Paul, The Bomb Squad, and Sam Sever. Since they reunited recently, I wanted to revisit this drum break flipped by producer Sam Sever. Although the video footage from said show made me sad that they reunited (maybe some more practice?), I still have a lot of love for 3rd Bass, and their use of the drums from “Sister Sanctified” from Stanley Turrentine’s Cherry.
For you UBB fans, you remember this from the cover with the subway train on it. For you Jazz and beat heads, it came from Turrentine’s heavy Soul Jazz LP on CTI with Milt Jackson. This record is the epitome of a CTI release. Two aging Jazz players going for broke towards their end of their careers, Creed Taylor getting the best from both of them. Under appreciated and slept on until much later, DJs grabbed a hold of this magic and started to cut doubles and keep them dancing, while producers put the break behind MCs. For me, it took me a while to figure out it was Turrentine, because UBB never told you the artist (just the writer credit which went to Weldon Irvine, Jr.), and well, you had to figure it out from there. Sam Sever, who had done some producing for Big Audio Dynamite, and coincidentally played the Beastie Boys DJ in Tougher Than Leather, grabbed a hold of this open drum break and worked it lovely for 3rd Bass. I was instantly hooked by the 808 bass and basketball references, being a hardcore hoop head. Michael Cooper and Michael Ray Richardson (and his crack pipe) were named checked among other things. I can still hear the lyrics: “You want the rock, but you don’t have the handle…..” and I loved them. This side made my head nod, the speakers in my hoopty knock, and me tighten up my Barkley Nikes and get on the court in the rough part of my area, Settler’s Landing. Looking back, it was just the diverse area, and my white bread neighborhood was just as rough, so I didn’t know what I was nervous about. This track got me pumped for some street ball and was played nonstop through a boom box in the lay up lineduring my high school basketball days. None the less, this break is classic, and whether you were down with 3rd Bass or not, Sever did a bang up job on this track. Another anatomy of a sample down, a million more to go.