Sunday, 7 April 2013

Busta Rhymes - Woo Hah!! (Origin Unknown Mix)

Busta Rhymes - Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check (Origin Unknown Mix) (Elektra, 1996)

After writing about an unofficial 'remix' of a hip-hop track yesterday I thought I'd have a look at an official one today. Back in 1996 drum & bass was increasingly turning to hip-hop for inspiration, moving away from the ragga sound that had dominated the scene for the previous couple of years. Combined with an increased media profile thanks to Goldie this led to major labels seeing the commercial potential of the music and commissioning drum & bass remixes for their singles, particularly in the UK.

Busta Rhymes originally came to prominence as a member of Leaders Of The New School, a Long Island hip-hop group who got their big break supporting Public Enemy - it was in fact Chuck D who gave Busta his stage name after NFL wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes. After becoming members of the Native Tongues collective Busta stole the show on A Tribe Called Quest's 'Scenario' ("Rah Rah, Like a Dungeon Dragon!") and following the break up of LONS he started out on a solo career. 'Woo Hah!!' was the first single from his debut album The Coming and was a top ten hit in both the US and UK. Today he is considered one of the most original voices in hip-hop.

The Origin Unknown mix only appeared on European versions of the single. They give it a sparse remix with a dark edge thanks to an underlying sci-fi hum that runs throughout much of the track. The intro uses the 'Sing A Simple Song' break (sampled from the Sly & The Family Stone track) with Busta's filtered "Yah Yah Yah" vocals until eventually bringing in the original's distinctive bassline and keys riff, sampled from Galt MacDermot's 'Space', along with the Hot Pants break. MacDermot is a Canadian composer best known for the musical Hair and has been extensively sampled by hip-hop artists such as MF DOOM and Oh No, whose Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms LP was based entirely around his work. Origin Unknown add a simple bassline replicating the original's with occasional use of the MacDermot samples and it isn't until the breakdown around two thirds of the way through that Busta's vocals are used more extensively - the "Woo Hah! Got you all in check" hook is a reference to Big Bank Hanks's line from the Sugarhill Gang's '8th Wonder'.

I'm not sure this remix was quite what the record label were expecting as they were probably hoping for something more commercial but Andy C and Ant Miles stay true to their sound, crafting a dark roller of a tune that's right in line with classics such as 'Quest' and 'Truly One'.

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