Why “Santa Claus Ain’t Real” to 9th Wonder
It’s been a little over a year that I have officially been out of the US Navy. Can’t say that I miss everything about it but there are somethings that I do miss, just like there are somethings from it that I still do. Once something gets ingrained in you, it’s hard to stop. All in all, I like being a civilian again. Not having to toe the line, wear a uniform almost 24-7 or be mindful of what someones rank is when I speak to them any more is cool. Flip-side, not having a Naval Exchange to buy tax-free goods at, having to dummy-proof things for my customers at work instead of being able to just point to a regulation or a directive and tell them to read it, do exactly what it says and stop asking me so many freaking questions! I also really miss never being subject to job termination, unless you do something as drastic as murder or getting caught out to sea on a ship committing adultery.
Speaking of employment, after being in any branch of the Military they give you a class to help you get acclimated back to civilian life. For the Navy its called TAP class. I forgot what TAP stands for, so don’t ask. Wait, I remember now, Transition Assistance Program.
Most people use the class as an excuse to not be at work, on a ship or a base, for a week or so rather than what it is intended for which is to give you tools for obtaining a job after military life. They give you a good run down and a whole spiel about your Military experience giving you an edge and blah, blah, blah, yakety-smackety, blah, blah and a nice cold glass of Orange Juice. I will admit, that it does and it will but normally not as fast as they would have you to believe. There are some cases where someone would transition straight to a great, high paying job but in reality, that rarely happens.
So, lets backtrack to a couple of months after I got out of the Military and I’m finally home. No more jumping on a Greyhound in Norfolk or Newport News, Va to travel 10 hours to Charlotte, NC (when by car it’s only 6-7 hours) to try and spend a weekend with the Wife and Kids just to turn around and jump another Greyhound back for another 10 hours and then attempt to be at work by 7 AM.
I’m home for good…
First thing on the agenda is to relax, second thing is to draw a little unemployment while I put these tools and techniques I just learned in TAPS class to work and find a dayjob. Third…hmmm…Ida know yet but when I figure it out, I will do that cause I’ve still got a military mindset.
I beat the pavement from the internet for two months straight. Career Builder, Yahoo Jobs, Military Jobs.com etc. You name it, I had a profile there, shopping my resume around. I finally found employment at a company that was new to the area in Concord, NC. Can’t really name them here but they specialized in contracted Customer Service for major companies with Sprint being their largest account.
So, I soon became a Sprint Web Chat Representative for them. You know, the person on the other end of the chat screen when you, the Sprint customer happens to go to the website to find out why you are getting charged for XYZ when you thought you were paying for ABC.
After the initial month of training and learning their systems and databases, my class hit the production floor. I hit it running, with a head full of steam, a good grasp of Sprint procedures and policies and all the good old Navy-Know-How I had. It took two months before a Chat Analyst position became available. I promptly applied, answering the prerequisite essay questions and before long an interview was arranged.
Long story short, my Military experience made the difference as my prior Supply and Inventory expertise as a Storekeeper Third Class gave me an edge and I was offered the job. I quickly accepted and began reviewing chats that reps were having with customers and reporting my findings in an effort to help everyone on the floor be better agents. Without going into too many details, I enjoyed the position but a contact center is too fly-by-night and it has a “by the seat of our pants” doctrine that wasn’t stringent enough for my regulated, military mind. Plus, most human beings minds are closed and they hearts ain’t open, so rather than deal with drama from Upper Management and Co-workers, I found employment with a company more suited to my need for structure.
Working at that company wasn’t all bad though. I met a lot of people, helped a lot of customers, made a few friends. One of those friends is my boy L. Coleman.
I happened to go to a house-party one evening that someone in my training class was throwing after work. Wifey and I arrived at a decent time and began to mingle and vibe to the music being played. After a while of drinking and laughing about the craziness of work, the party started to thin out. My wife, being the outgoing person she is, struck up a conversation with L.C. about HBCU‘s. I recognized L.C. from work but hadn’t really spoken to him other than a hello so I joined in the conversation. Eventually, the convo moved into music and I realized that L.C was just as deeply entrenched as I.
After that we spoke on a regular basis at work about it, traded CD’s at work, etc. Eventually, I found out that he went to North Carolina Central University at the same time as one of my favorite producers, 9th Wonder and that they are still pretty tight. In fact 9th would, on occasion, give him unreleased material or hip him to new artists he was working with. Of course L.C. would pass this info on to me and I would pass on to him all the different things I would find.
One of the things he gave to me is a mix 9th did called Santa Claus Ain’t Real.
According to L.C., since 9th went to NCCU, he has been appointed an Artist in Residence there and instructs a Hip-Hop History class. SCAR is a mix he put together for his students that showcases where the samples for a good bit of classics of the genre came from. 9th plays the original audio and then expertly fades or even scratches in the updated song. It is sheer enjoyment from beginning to end and is also one of the major reasons I began finding these songs myself and my muse for this blog.
The mix starts out with a song from The Sylvers called “Through the Love in my Heart” which by itself is quite catchy and has recently been added to my personal greatest songs list based on just melody alone. It was also a very hard song to find or place due to its obscurity but after a week or two I finally obtained a copy. A good bit of this song plays but you quickly get caught up in the smooth harmonies and before you know it 9th has slid from the original into the 50 Cent song “Emotional“. I’m not a fan of Small Change him, so I won’t make any comments other than the transition is nice.
From there Mr. Wonder takes you through more Hip-Hop classics and even a few miscellaneous R&B tracks in almost chronological order. There are a few Biggie cuts here too including the “Stay With Me” track from El DeBarge that Jermaine Dupri sampled for the “One More Chance” remix. 9th also gets into a couple of Beyonce’s songs, all the while showing you where the current track’s producer got their inspiration. I especially love the trip through one of my favorite Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth songs, “They Reminisce Over You” or T.R.O.Y for short. He then takes the time to show you the infamous trumpet riff from the Tom Scott Jazz staple “Today” but only after giving you a hefty portion of Pete Rock’s tribute to Heavy D‘s group member, friend and backup dancer Trouble T Roy (hence the song name), first.
After listening to this, I realized the art that goes into finding an old song and creating something fresh and new from it is all encompassing. Just when you think he can’t do it again, he smacks you GAP Band “Oops Upside Your Head” style with Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty“. The catch is that instead of playing that outright, he sticks simply with “One Step Ahead” by Aretha Franklin, where the sample Ayatollah used for it came from. Any music lover worth his weight in Vinyl should be able to recognize that infamous and hauntingly beautiful refrain anywhere.
There is no limit to the amount of songs 9th goes through in this set and the myths that he debunks also. It will utterly amaze some as to find that mega producers like the RZA didn’t use all original instrumentation for classics like “C.R.E.A.M“. Hell, it floored me when 9th revealed that RZA hinged Method Man’s “Bring the Pain” on one small part of a song by Jerry Butler called “I’m Your Mechanical Man” (also on my greatest songs list). Another one I will mention here is the Jay Dee produced track from The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia sophomore disc entitled “Runnin“. (Well back when he started out he was called that, most know him now as J. Dilla or Dilla. Either way he is missed. God Bless the Grave.)
I already knew that Dilla used samples but I didn’t know they were as rare as the “Saudade Vem Correndo” by Stan Getz, one he used for that classic song. You have no idea how long it took me to find a complete copy of the entire “Jazz Samba Encore!” album the song comes from.
The list of songs and producers goes on and on and this post would be longer than it already is if I attempted to list them all. So, if you are or even aren’t into Hip-Hop or the samples behind the melodies, you are sure to find something here that you will recognize and say “Hey! I didn’t know that was a sample! I thought (insert producer name here) made that from scratch.”
Or the “Santa Claus Ain’t Real” effect. Nuff Said…
Want a copy of the mix a/o the original songs mentioned in the post? Just click the links below. Oh and I added the stream too, just so you can catch a feeling!