daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra
The Missing 12 Inch, 2005
It’s a little hazy in my memory but I remember reading the liner notes of The Roots’ Things Fall Apart and under the “Diedre v. Dice” interlude they explained that they had brought in this amazing/credentialed cello(?) player (Diedre someone) to play the string parts on “Act Too (Love of My Life),” only to realize that they were overly simple. “Diedre v. Dice” was the result of an off-the-cuff moment during that session that they included on the album because it showcased her unorthodox improvisational skill. The downside of that transaction is that the Roots were probably a little leery of “wasting” Diedre’s time with recording 20 overdubs on the “Act Too” string part and its left a little thin.
With sixty players (total), the strings at 2:45 on daKAH’s cover version are extremely satisfying in that regard. They deliver the fullness that the already-brilliant original hints at. The Roots’ version is downright expansive considering it’s the work of 6-9 people (the English Horn section intro on the daKAH version is actually replicating Rahzel’s multi-track vocal instrumental-mimicry) but hearing the song with this level of instrumentation really makes me think about other ways the album version could have been (although recording with an orchestra is always dangerous – “aged-rock star” style). It’s just to bad they didn’t or couldn’t get the MCs to come and do their verses. The B Side covers Gang Starr material and Guru actually rhymes on an updated version of “Jazz Thing.”
This 12″ was sponsored by Scion so I was a little reluctant to post it when I first got it last year; I was afraid there was going to be some wildly popular commercial that juxtaposed footage of the orchestra performing on a mountain with footage of a car (professional driver – closed course) whipping around turns. I don’t watch tv much (that’s an understatement) but I’m pretty sure that that didn’t happen, and I didn’t hear as much about this group as I thought I might, so I thought now would be a good time to post this.
I actually started a band (not an orchestra – mind you) in college with intention of doing really detail-oriented covers of hip hop beats, sort of a pre- “Breakestra — The Live Mix Part 2” but for beats not the breaks they’re built on. It was a tough sell for my fellow band members. I can’t blame them, the details would probably be lost on most of our Pioneer Valley audience. Still, there was something intensely satisfying about the idea of it. I felt that same satisfaction the first time I heard this track and air-drummed the snare hits at 4:56 that were exactly where they are in the original.
What’s up to Jeff Azano, Jeff (i can’t remember your last name now – i still owe you $40 though – with 8 years of interest!), Forest, Michael Pisapia, and Garrick. Thanks for putting up with me and for the good times.
>> songs are available for two weeks [15.8 MB]