Various Artists

Droppin' Science: Greatest Samples from the Blue Note Lab

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On first glance, Droppin' Science: Greatest Samples from the Blue Note Lab looks like a sampler of the four-volume Blue Break Beats series. Released throughout the '90s, Blue Break Beats trawled through the Blue Note (and Capitol) catalog for funkier cuts released throughout the '60s and '70s, almost all of which had been sampled by significant hip-hop producers -- cuts like Gene Harris & the Three Sounds' "Put on Train" (Beastie Boys' "What Comes Around"), Eddie Henderson's "Inside You" (Souls of Mischief's "Tell Me Who Profits"), and Bobby Hutcherson's "Ummh" (Ice Cube's "Ghetto Bird"). Any rap fan who used Blue Break Beats as a side door into jazz will recognize Ronnie Foster's "Mystic Brew" (which gave A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" its mellow but stimulating foundation) and Lou Donaldson's "It's Your Thing" (Idris Muhammad's drums and Melvin Sparks' guitar were repurposed for Brand Nubian's furious "Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down"), as well as a few others, but half of the disc's inclusions didn't appear in the series. It's not like they're scraps, either: Donald Byrd's "Think Twice" (covered by J Dilla in 2001, the original's 1:46 through 1:52 [roughly] were also immortalized a decade prior on Main Source's "Looking at the Front Door"), David McCallum's David Axelrod-written-and-produced "The Edge" (Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode"), Brother Jack McDuff's "Oblighetto" (remixed by Dilla and sampled for A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario"), and two others. Even without considering the purpose behind the compilation, it's a set of soul-jazz and jazz-funk as durable as any other. The liner notes, penned by ?uestlove, feature the Roots drummer's typical off-the-cuff mix of deep knowledge and humor.

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