Gumsole Beatdowns #2: Kool & The Gang X Spinna & Premier
DJ Spinna has got beats. Fresh beats*. It’s a shame this production wunderkind of Jigmastas (and Stevie Wonder tribute parties) infamy doesn’t get his proper due. The above clip of him in the studio with Ski (of Camp Lo and early Roc-a-Fella infamy, not a bad producer himself) and the homie Sucio Smash chopping up Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” inspired me to write another Gumsoles. [Props to High Water Music]
Most people nowadays will know Kool & the Gang for their Pop/Crossover hits like “Celebrate” and “Ladies Night” That’s all well and good but if you’re a little savvier with your music history you will note that Kool & the Gang started with traditional Jazz leanings before delving knee deep into R&B and Funk before getting their Disco on.
Being that the group’s main players—brothers Robert “Kool” Bell (bass) and Ronald Bell (tenor sax) as well as George Brown (drums), Robert Mickens (trumpet), Dennis Thomas (alto sax), Charles Smith (guitar, RIP) and Rick Westfield (keys)—were all accomplished musicians, it’s no wonder their catalog has been picked clean by scavenging Hip-Hop producers.
The song in question here (directly below), “Summer Madness,” stems from their R&B/Funk days, though they retained their sophisticated Jazz sensibilities. The instrumental tracks sweeping synthesizer and haunting melody was first heard on Kool & The Gang’s Light of Worlds (De-Lite, 1974) album.
That said, I wanted to share some of my fav “Summer Madness” flips, for the uninitiated. No one tell Premo I dropped dime please, thanks.
Gang Starr “DJ Premier in Deep Concentration”
“Summer Madness” forms the musical landscape for Premier to cut, scratch and transform with finesse, and all that mess. Word to Biz Markie and Cool V.
Pete Rock f/ Jim Jones & Max B “We Roll”
Ahh, feel the wave; when Jones and Max were best of buddies and making surprisingly good music. Pete Rock chops up “Summer Madness’” synth to the point where they’re almost recognizable, Max drops a catchy hook and Jones fills in adequately on the rhymes.
Da Bush Babees f/ Mos Def “The Love Song”
You really can’t lose early Mos Def teaming with late 90’s, underground Hip-Hop torchbearers teaming up over a Posdnous (De La Soul-did I really have to add that detail?) produced track.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (pre-Bel Air) “Summertime”
Enough of a classic that younger heads will think it’s the original.
*I’ll get around to posting that Spinna story from the late, great Scratch Magazine, one day.