Thursday, 18 April 2013

Roni Size & DJ Die - 11:55 (Gangsta Mix)

Roni Size & DJ Die - 11:55 (Gangsta Mix) (Full Cycle, 1995)

The Hustlers Convention LP by Lightnin' Rod from 1973 is a seminal work that sounds like a Blaxploitation film put to wax, telling the story of two friends on a night out that ends in a shootout with the police and subsequently prison. It is a treatise about life in the ghetto that touches on issues such as drugs, violence, hustling and gambling, all put to an incredibly funky soundtrack. The man behind it was Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of The Last Poets, a group who pioneered a form of rhythmic spoken word that was a precursor to hip-hop. The backing came from an all-star cast of musicians including Kool & The Gang, Tina Turner, Bernard Purdie and Billy Preston.

Roni Size & DJ Die's '11:55' opens with a sample from the album's 'Hammock's Hall Was Big': "You could feel all the tension building up at the convention, as the hustlers began to arrive. Must have been nine thousand or more that came through the door, the time was 11:55". This is accompanied by the Sport break which is sampled from the opening track on the album. Size & Die then introduce an ascending rhodes sample along with 808 kick bass, the Scorpio break and a "Come On" vocal that also appears on 'Club Lonely' by Lil' Louis. They later add the Sesame Street break making for a rhythmically complex track with the three breaks expertly cut-up and intertwined. Lots of different samples come and go, including the sound from the intro of Remarc's 'R.I.P.' and what I think is a high guitar twang from 'In The Rain' by The Dramatics (a track sampled more extensively by Danny Breaks on 'Easy') along with snippets of rhodes, horns and guitar. One of my favourites in the Full Cycle catalogue and an absolutely timeless track.

'11:55' appears on the Music Box LP, an essential Full Cycle compilation from 1996 that you can pick up second hand pretty cheaply. Check it out in this excellent Full Cycle tribute mix by D'Zine:

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