March 31, 2005

Mixtape Friday: P2P brings power to the people
By Canyon Cody
Originally published in The Heights

     I am a copyright anarchist. I support willy-nilly downloading and refuse to be guilt-tripped by millionaire rock stars for stealing their $16. My momma taught me to share, so despite the RIAA, I proudly duplicate music and share it with my friends.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a copyright infringement case against Grokster, a file-sharing program similar to KaZaA. Lower courts have upheld Grokster's innocence based on the Supreme Court's 1984 decision that absolved Sony of copyright liability for illegal uses that consumers might make with their VCRs.
      At you can legally download brief 15-second clips of the songs featured on the mixtape. If you want the full versions, you'll have to be sneaky - these songs were never released commercially because they are filled with uncleared samples and egregious copyright violations.

Double Dee & Steinski - "Lesson 1 (The Payoff Mix)"

      In 1983, Tommy Boy sponsored a DJ remix contest for Globe & Whiz Kid's "Play That Beat Mr. DJ." The winning entry came from DJ duo Double Dee & Steinksi, an impressive musical collage featuring 24 diverse vocal and musical "quotations" from disco, funk, rock, movies, television, and everywhere else. Unfortunately, it was a legal nightmare for Tommy Boy's lawyers, who advised against releasing it because it would be impossible to clear all the samples, leaving Double Dee and Steinski without a penny and banishing the song to bootlegdom.

      For Double Dee & Steinski, the grass is always greener on the other side of the bridge. Instead of using just one musical bridge, they jump back and forth through a collage of 10 second rhythm samples from Herbie Hancock's "Rockit," The Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love," and the Incredible Bongo Band's classic breakbeat "Apache."

Double Dee & Steinski - "Lesson 2 (The James Brown Mix)"
      James Brown has been sampled in hundreds of rap songs, but never before has a track combined five different James Brown songs at the same time. I won't ruin the surprise about which songs they use - the most enjoyable part of listening to these songs is trying to figure out the samples, but here's a hint: Clint Eastwood and Bugs Bunny are in there too.

Double Dee & Steinski - "Lesson 3 (The History of Hip-Hop Mix)"
     This became the most famous of the trilogy, based around Herman Kelly and Life's "Dance To The Drummer's Beat." It begins with a warning from Otis Redding, "We gonna do a song that you never heard before," leading into JFK announcing that "the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans," and just for fun, they throw in a Groucho Marx joke. For more info about Double Dee & Steinski, check out 2001's phenomenal DJ documentary Scratch.

Steinski "The Motorcade Sped On"

     After an amicable split from Double Dee, Steiski again grabbed attention with his mix featuring samples from media coverage, mostly Walter Cronkite, of the JFK assassination. But CBS, fearing "trivialization" of Cronkite's legacy, refused clearance on Cronkite words, leaving Steinski again with no way to capitalize on his creation.