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That’s Not All Folks

After reading the homie Ben Detrick’s article on the EMU SP1200, a gang of thoughts filled my mind.

For one I thought a lot of the people he spoke to in the article weren’t saying certain things, or rather, were understating important shit. And it’s misleading. Granted, I wasn’t around when these guys were making their classic tracks and I could only hope to have their legendary status one day, but i mean, how can you be talking about the SP1200 and not include something about the Akai s950?!?! Even Ski said:

“I worked with Jay-Z and did all of Reasonable Doubt on the SP-1200. For “Dead Presidents,” everything was made on the SP, man: the whole sequence, the drum sounds, the Nas sample. The only thing that wasn’t done on the SP was the sample, [but] I ran it through it to give it that sound.”

I think i peeped Ski in that VH1 “Making of Reasonable Doubt” playing back the Lonnie Liston Smith sample from Dead Presidents off the s950 (i think during a conversation we had a while back he even told me that’s what he used with the 1200). How else could he get that punchy resonant filtered baseline from the sample? That was the key characteristic of the 950, the filter. You couldn’t get that on any other piece of gear. People copped the 950 just for the filter, and that filter, i would argue, is the sound of the Golden Age of hip-hop just as much as the crunchy drums of the sp1200. Think Beatminerz production on “Buck Em Down,” how that baseline rips through the speakers. Think Large Pro’s growling baseline on “Haftime,” or even the bass melody on “It Ain’t Hard To Tell.” Sure, the sp1200 provided the drums, but I’d be willing to bet the 950 was right along side it. I know cats also would sample their drums with the 950 and play them back on the sp’s pads and sequencer. But essentially, these 2 machines, and later the mpc60, would define golden age hip-hop. But I felt like the article, not to discredit it in any capacity because it was great and Ben’s my homie, just left that tidbit out. It might have been crowning one piece of gear king, when in reality there were a bunch of rulers in the hip-hop production kingdom all working in conjunction with one another. They’re like a senate lol.

Short story: about a year ago, some cat who used to produce for Marky Mark (young’n’s do the knowledge on mark whalberg once being a pop rapper) came by my studio trying to unload his whole set-up because he was going off to Iraq. Anyway, there was a bunch of shit he was tryin to get off, and in the set-up was an s950 and sp1200!!! This dude was giving me those two pieces of gear and like 3 analog boards and a bunch of outboard gear for 1 thousand dollars!! Needless to say, I thought I was getting over on dude. I felt that even if I copped and sold the sp1200 I’d make money. I plugged all the shit in and unfortunately the sample input on the 1200 was fucked up. I had to pass on the whole deal because he wanted too much for the 950 by itself. But for that short period of time when I had the 950 and 1200 hooked up together (I was able to play back drums on the sp1200 that the dude had saved on disk), I could definitely see why producers all over the world are still to this day dedicated to this lo-fi combination. I mean, the sound is just incredibly fat, warm, and chunky in comparison to the mpc2000. Big and beefy (pause!). Too bad i didn’t cop. But it just didn’t have a place in my increasingly virtual studio environment.

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