Happy Birthday Amy …
14.09.1983 – forever 🖤
Let’s celebrate Amy’s music and embrace it into hip-hop as she embraced hip-hop into her art …
//TRACK 1: ‚BACK TO FRANK INTRO’
Funky DL gets the listener ready, set and good to go over Amy Winehouse’s ‘October Song’ blended with drum breaks… and provides a relaxed intro to ‘Back To Frank’, before the first full length track is unveiled.
//TRACK 2: ‚WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?’
‘What Do You Expect?’ was the second song written, produced and recorded for ‘Back To Frank’ sampling Amy’s ‘I Heard Love is Blind’. Funky DL sums up his evident feeling of being on the outside of particular circles in hip hop within the UK and how that dejection actually freed him from getting involved in the hip-politics and left him free to get on with his career. The unorthodox 3 bar loop arrangement is apparent in this one with chops and breaks flying in during the arrangement.
//TRACK 3: ‚KICKED TO THE CURB’
This is the song that kicked the whole project off, and as ‚You Sent Me Flying‘ is DL’s favourite track by Amy, he made ‚Kicked To The Curb‘ his starting block for the album. In this song DL remarks of his regret as to the reasons why a relationship had to come to an end without actually saying what the girl did that led him to kick her to the curb, and does this smoothly over a beat reminiscent of some old Dilla / Slum Village vibe…
//TRACK 4: ‚HANDED TO YOU FREE’
Never a more suitable selection to showcase Funky DL’s production skills in his ability to take all of the sounds used in this jam (bar the bass, 80’s snare drum and old drum loop for the outro) from the original Amy joint ‘Know You Now’ and re-arrange the guitar chord structure and flip the drum pattern, whilst interplaying with remnants of Amy’s vocal. DL muses over the value of hard work and utilises the glossy groove to let the listeners know that they should never expect things to be handed to them for free.
//TRACK 5: ‚REALIZE RESPONSIBILITY’
This is one of DL’s personal favourites. The subject matter for the verbal’s is realising responsibility, growing up, and allowing yourself to be answerable to yourself and no other. The re-arrangement of Amy’s ‘Brother’, with a pile up of four 90’s style drum beats and airy reverberant harmonies, gives this song its old school but true school, chilled flava!
//TRACK 6: ‚STRONGER’
Probably the closest to its original form of any song from the ‘Frank’ album, Funky DL took the horns from an outro skit version of Amy’s ‘Stronger Than Me’, and some guitar passes along with programming an old jazz style walking baseline. Then DL set about reprogramming the drums from the opening snatch in the intro of Amy’s original version of ‘Stronger Than Me’, editing Amy’s chorus down to just ‘you should be stronger’ with echo trails. This meant that DL could lyrically summarise on the need for a sense of inner strength within us all and our remembrance of just how powerful of an individual we can all be.
//TRACK 7: ‚THE SWEETEST THING’
This song is as true of a representation of Funky DL and his love for jazz as it could get. An ode to the fairer sex and with true jazz chops all taken from Amy’s ‘(There Is) No Greater Love’. DL states “the drums were actually borrowed” (for want of a better word) from Questlove of The Roots and his YouTube channel ‘qoolquest’ and sampled directly from YouTube, but with some snare drum tuning and toning to make it at least somewhat different”. The interaction from verses into chorus is a tight fit and works to make this joint a jazz-filled and energetic piece.
//TRACK 8: ‚BUT THAT’S NOT ME’
DL came with some niceties on this one with a story of his fears and insecurities of a suspected cheating wife to whom he is unsure whether to confront or quietly slip away from, only leaving a note or letter. DL explains “This was a difficult one because Amy hardly said anything from the original ‘Take the Box’ song that I could really write around” The story unfolds and is vividly descriptive only to come back round full circle to display that the 1st verse could have easily been 2nd and the 2nd, the 1st…
//TRACK 9: ‚MADE FOR YOU’
DL stays true to his production roots with this ode to ‘studio equipment’. With a hook from Amy stating “everyday I see you, my hands were made for you”, it becomes clearer to understand where DL’s heart lies. As an avid Akai MPC user, Funky DL has taught himself the machine inside and out, even having to open the sampler to replace a burnt out memory chip whilst recording the project. A music lover’s favourite appears in the form of Grover Washington Jr’s ‘Mister Magic’, which Amy covered on her debut album as an unlisted bonus track.
//TRACK 10: ‚I CAN’T HELP YOU’
Funky DL’s early influences were producers like Pete Rock, which is highly apparent on this one. Funky DL sends a message out to all those who are always prepared to lean on others for help, never having ever done anything themselves… to help themselves. The shortest and last track on ‘Back To Frank’ offers the opportunity for self-reflection if adhered to carefully.
//TRACK 11: ‚BACK TO FRANK OUTRO’
DL takes this opportunity to send a shout out to Amy Winehouse and MCD as he says “for the idea” over a re-sampled ‘Amy, Amy, Amy’. A short outro to a short but well constructed album.
//TRACK 12: ‚ BACK TO RAP INTRO’
Funky DL chopped and segmented Amy’s ‘Rehab’ to be used for just the intro for Back To Rap as a familiar audio landscape to prepare the listener for what is to come.
//TRACK 13: ‚CAN’T KEEP LYING’ featuring Ricko Capito, Dukus Alemay & Pyrelli
DL, Ricko Capito, Dukus Alemay and Pyrelli make a quartet of rhyme-smiths on this jam. DL cleverly chopped Amy’s vocals from ‘Me and Mr Jones’ and used different layers of filter frequency while switching drums grooves from hook to verses to provide a swing in the beat and a solid groove.
//TRACK 14: ‚TOGETHER’ featuring Pyrelli & MCD
It was only right that since MCD was responsible for giving DL the initial idea for this project, he himself should feature on one of the songs. With Pyrelli added to the fold, ‘Together’ is a tri-scope view on the idea of togetherness from each MC. The reggae-ska sample from Amy’s ‘Just Friends’, lent to DL then sampling from some of the original “Saxon Sound” raves held in the UK in the 1980’s which feature the vocals of legends Papa Levi, Tippa Irie, Daddy Colonel and Daddy Rusty.
//TRACK 15: ‚I TOLD YOU I WAS TROUBLE’ featuring Pyrelli & Addictive
Hip-Hop has always been synonymous with big drum beats so ‘You Know I’m No Good‘ was a perfect backdrop to showcase this as it starts with and electrifying live drum performance. DL snuck in and took snippets of horn screeches and stabs to then layer over the spacious beats and then went in with Pyrelli to tear the track apart lyrically. Female vocal group “Addictive” were added to provide harmonic value with their beautiful tones and texture as vocalists.
//TRACK 16: ‚AND I WAKE UP ALONE’ featuring Dukus Alemay
Mirroring the storytelling value of ‘But That’s Not Me’ from ‘Back To Frank’, Amy’s ‘Wake Up Alone’ provided the perfect chorus and theme to enable DL to do so once more. Dukus Alemay provides a rainbow of harmonies for the intro and outro to further expand on the Amy Winehouse original, whilst DL plays extra keys with pizzicato and pads to bring the track alive beyond the original. DL remarks “The biggest challenge in this one was performing in a 3/4 time signature which is not highly common in Hip-Hop, although songs like Kanye West’s ‘Fly Away’ and Nas’ ‘Heaven’ have proven it is possible to do it and to do it dope!
//TRACK 17: ‚OWE NOTHING TO ME’ featuring Sus & Dukus Alemay
Bearing in mind that Amy Winehouse hardly left any instrumental part open during her performance of ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’, DL did extremely well to create this track which again features Dukus Alemay and his also ‘Dead Bully’ rhyming partner Sus.
//TRACK 18: ‚THE CHIPS WERE DOWN’
DL holds this song as his most precious from the ‘Back To Rap’ collection, because lyrically he feels it is some of the most honest writing he has ever put to his music. Sampling Amy’s ‘Love Is a Losing Game’, DL turns this into a heartfelt and melancholy tale of the ups and downs that life throw at us and how we can and can’t cope with them.
//TRACK 19: ‚PUT IT IN WRITING’ featuring Ricko Capito & K9
Amy Winehouse’s ‘Some Unholy War’ is the backdrop for this number. Ricko Capito and K9 are two rappers DL met in late 2009 whilst working with Klashnekoff. So impressed with both their lyrical ability, it was a perfect opportunity to feature them both on the album in the form of ‘Put It In Writing’.
//TRACK 20: ‚WHAT’S SHE RUNNING FROM?’ featuring Lei-an
DL felt that the original music for Amy’s ‘He Can Only Hold Her’ reminded him of something that the rapper Slick Rick would have chosen to rhyme over back in the day. That propelled to perform an almost Slick Rick style of flow on this track. With Lei-an as an added feature for a hook line and the outro, the track ended up sounding much better than DL had initially envisaged.
//TRACK 21: ‚I CAN GET MINE’
The fastest track of the bunch comes in the form of ‘I Can Get Mine’ which samples Amy Winehouse’s ‘Addicted’. This song also has the shortest chorus line out of all the songs on the album. The song depicts going for yours and getting what you’re worth in this world. DL originally recorded a song entitled ‘I Think’ but it was never released, so he took the drums and merged them with the Amy samples to bring this high paced groove to the album.
//TRACK 22: ‚GOLD FOR A FOOL’ featuring Pyrelli
Appearing on the album as a bonus feature, this is actually the very first beat that DL worked on in starting the ‘Back To Rap’ process; even though the original Amy track ‘Fools Gold’ did not feature on the ‘Back To Black’ album. When Pyrelli heard the beat, he fell in love with the vibe and DL agreed that they’d both share the lyrical duties on the track.
//TRACK 23: ‚BACK TO RAP OUTRO’
DL takes this opportunity to send a shout out all the artists involved in the album process over the straight loop of Amy’s ‘Black To Black’… a shout out and peace out to all… and a nice round off and finish to a classic project.