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What’s a Goon to a Goblin Sample?


When the Swizz Beatz-produced “Gucci Time” showed up on Gucci Mane’s most recent mixtape Jewelry Selection, the big disappointment was that it had nothing to do with Schooly D. Thing is, “Gucci Time” is far more interesting than a reference to Schooly D’s “Gucci Time,” it’s a flickering, A.D.D beat wrapped around an incessant sample of Justice’s “Phantom Pt. 2.” And now, there’s a Chris Robinson-directed video and it’s more than just a mixtape track, it’s the first single from The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted. That means this is the second time in less than a year that Swizz Beatz dipped into Justice’s for a rap beat (previously: Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One” which sampled “D.A.N.C.E”). It’s also the third time Swizzy’s sampled something from a French house crew, having used parts of Daft Punk’s “Technologic” for Busta Rhymes’ “Touch It.”

As far as first singles go, “Gucci Time” is better than “Spotlight,” but it isn’t great either. Maybe this was some major label attempt to remake the skittering, brilliantly annoying “Lemonade”–a un-hedged Gucci song that also had pop appeal—but there’s not really anything for Gucci to lock-in on and really rap; it’s just annoying, there’s no brilliant part. Also, Swizz Beatz’s production here’s projecting a sense of menace that never been part of Gucci’s rap persona. That’s not to say Gucci isn’t threatening or doesn’t rap threatening things, but his worldview is one that’s full of laughing into the void sadness mixed with street-kid pragmatism, so even his violent lyrics just roll-out like inevitabilities. A simple loop, with no break or pause just doesn’t work for Gucci, he needs more to tiptoe his rhymes around. Notice how the first verse is classic Gucci because he’s just ignoring the sample and following the drums.

Really though, “Gucci Time” just pales in comparison to “On To The Next One.” Swizz Beatz’s take on “D.A.N.C.E” was brilliant: the kind of obsessive, sample-tweaking and slicing that results in a broken shards of a song bumping into one another and making some totally new. It was one of those samples that you may not even hear at first, and less because it’s a relatively “out there” sample source and more because Swizz did such a great job destroying it and rearranging all the pieces. For “Gucci Time,” Swizz is just flat-out looping a piece of a Justice song–a piece that’s already a looped sample (Goblin’s “Tenebre”).

Sonically, Goblin sit somewhere between the go-for-broke propulsive energy of Giorgio Moroder and the chintzy dread-filled atmosphere of John Carpenter, so their best work is bold and silly and strangely danceable and um, therefore tailor-made for dance music and hip-hop, right? But Justice pretty much slowed the original down and digital glitched it all out, and Swizzy unfortunately, continues in that safe direction. The only defense is that Swizz is about as creative with his Justice sample as Justice were with their Goblin sample, which is to say, not very and moving into into crappy DJ edit territory.

The only thing about this whole endeavor that matches Goblin’ skin-crawl, absurd level of awesome is the beginning of the “Gucci Time” video. This kinda makes sense as Goblin’s best work, like “Tenebre,” was made to accompany visuals. Above is a clip from Dario Argento’s Tenebre (1982) which uses the song sampled by Justice, who were then sampled by Swizz Beatz. The clip’s all tension and then, reckless release, but there’s a lurching choreography between Argento’s roving camera and Goblin’s stunted, disco-opera score–and director Chris Robinson grabs onto just a tiny bit of that “Gucci Time.”

The beginning of the “Gucci Time” video shows Gucci casually walking down the street and stopping to check his watch while two 90s rap video gigantic explosions whirl around him. As the explosions begins to dissipate and the “Gucci Time” title appears, Goblin’s identifiable, skronky, vocoded demon moans kick-in and for a moment there, it’s got the same visual/sound interplay of an Argento flick. That same sense of the mundane (a random street corner) and the outrageous (a giant fucking explosion) meeting, anchored by the slinking, scary sounds of Goblin.

*you can also read this post on Tumblr now, golly!

Written by Brandon

September 10th, 2010 at 8:24 am