Flip the Sample: “Walk On By” / “Warning”
Still Flippin’ Samples. Flip yeah. Today we have a great series of songs that utilize a slow moving bassline that created three classics. The songs are overall pretty different — they all fall under separate genres — but the similarities, the sounds sampled, are very evident. These tracks are excellent, really fun jams to listen to. Enjoy!
The Notorious B.I.G. — “Warning” (1994) (Prod. by Easy Mo Bee)
Hooverphonic — “2Wicky” (1996) (Prod. by Hooverphonic)
Isaac Hayes — “Walk On By” (1969) (Prod. by Isaac Hayes)
Alright so I already misled you. That’s what’s tough about the vernacular of sample flipping, or actually defining an ‘original’ song versus a ‘remix’ or ‘cover’. Isaac Hayes didn’t actually produce “Walk On By.” Hayes’ version is a cover of a song composed by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. There are 12 different covers of the song by David and Bacharach, released in 1964. My personal preference led me to Hayes’ version. It’s the most similar to, and flows best with “2 Wicky” and “Warning.” For the sake of keeping this letter short and sweet, and not going through 12 different samples, we picked these three great jams. That being said, take the “original” label with a grain of salt.
Hayes released a 12-minute ballad of “Walk On By” on his groundbreaking Hot Buttered Soul LP, and it’s a beautiful, groovy song. It’s an excellent, intricate composition and a staple of the amazing music released in 1969. It’s emotional and very thick.
“2 Wicky” is a perfect example of the trip-hop, electronic experimental movement from Europe in the ’90s. It has a grungy sound mixed in with electronic samples. In this case, it contains a lot of Hayes’ jam, like the spacey guitar and smooth bassline. It has the hazy, emotional female lyrics and hooks classic to that genre. There are gems from European bands like Hooverphonic splattered throughout the music-sphere.
The lyrics in “2 Wicky” are arguably in-line with Biggie’s “Warning.” They both have an overall theme of people trying to hurt you. I see similarities. The big difference, though, is the absolutely flabbergasting poetic lyrical destruction that Biggie lays down in “Warning.” The lyrics in “2 Wicky” are pretty simple. The rapping in “Warning” is everything but simple.
The intro to “Warning,” a single off of Biggie’s Ready to Die, is a quick indicator that Biggie is about to go on a rant, he’s about to tell a story. It’s a very simple kick-drum beat and a slow, simple bassline taken directly from “Walk On By.” That bassline is the heart, or main sample, in these three songs. It’s very similar, if not identical, in all three. The kick-drum beat is also there, but each producer changes the sound.
In Biggie’s version, Easy Mo Bee turned the drums up way louder than in the other songs. It’s a way for the producer to leave the song up to the lyricist. Those cracking drums help us concentrate on what Biggies says.
And thankfully Mo Bee did turn them up, because Biggie goes off! The way the story starts and unfolds is hilariously creative. One of Biggie’s good friends pages him *early in the morning* to let him know he’s got some enemies looking to bring him down. And so the story unfolds…
In the first verse we’re introduced to the problem, and a quick back story. The smooth way of saying simple things is evident throughout:
Now they heard you blowin’ up like nitro,
And they wanna stick the knife through your windpipe slow.
Then in the second verse, Biggie has another very unique way of flexin’ for the folks. He indirectly tells the listeners how B.I.G. he really is, and how much he’s accomplished. He talks about the money, the cars, the drugs, and the watches, but in HIS way of doing it:
They heard about the Rolex’s and the Lexus with the Texas license plate, outta state
They heard about the pounds you got down in Georgetown,
And they heard you got half of Virginia locked down.
Not only is his lyricism one-of-a-kind, but the way he delivers the message is great. Such a Biggie Smalls way to tell the world how raw he really is. He takes on the character of his friend on the other end of the phone, and ‘humbly’ tells us all how successful Biggie Smalls is. I love that about Biggie. Creative mind, man.
At the end of the song, he wraps up the story by telling us how he’s going to solve this problem. He tells his enemies what he’ll do to them. But it’s the perfect example of Biggie’s ability — intelligence, really — to tell stories and say things through clever poetry that makes you laugh, but cringe in fright too:
There’s gunna be a lot of slow singing,
and flower bringing,
if my burglar alarm starts ringing.
Or you could say, “Trespassers will be shot.”
And I feed ’em gun powder,
so they can devour,
trying to drop my decimals.
Hahahaha. Such a perfect example of his uniqueness, and masterful ability to bleed his personality through the lyrics while maintaining an immaculate flow and perfect rhyming. He truly was at the top of the game. R.I.P, the rap game definitely missed your talents.
There are similarities in these three great songs, and all stem from the same foundational beat. The similar inspiration of the producers led to very different songs, in different genres, that actually inter-connect and, for some not fully understood reason, make listening to each more enjoyable.
Tell us about your favorite sample flip. For us, there’s nothing better than diving deeper into the music that moves us.