Yasiin Bey FKA Mos Def x Preservation — 'The REcstatic' Remix LP [Track-By-Track + LP Stream]
Earlier this summer, Preservation released his remix album of Mos Def's pre-Yasiin Bey LP The Ecstatic. The tape, appropriately titled The REcstatic, is completely bananas and below, Pres' gives some details on his process with each track. For 15 of the 16 songs (the final track "Black Fantastic" was produced by Minnesota, but you can read more on that below), Preservation breathes new life into the deepest, darkest crevices he could find around Mos' vocals for a project that humbly exhibits his craftsmanship. From re-working a J Dilla joint to incorporating the international influences already present in the original album, Pres' has delivered an inspired piece of work. Clearly, I can't find enough good to say about The REcstatic, so please do yourself a favor and download it if you haven't already and read on for the producer's liner notes.
Before I started the project, a friend of mine who has a crazy Turkish record collection played me a version of the Selda song “Ince Ince.” When I got a hold of it I had to time-stretch it to fit his vocals because of a big difference in pitch with the original. The drums are from a Brazilian psych band that gave it the extra rock it needed.
2. "Twilite Speedball"
The swing of the original always gave me a New Orleans second-line feel, so I wanted to get even more of the brass band element that the original had. I looked through a lot of New Orleans records and high school band records to find a high school band that did great versions of [The] Ohio Players, Marvin Gaye and others. One track had some horn stabs that jumped out perfectly.
I wanted to stay within the Indian sound for this one. When Yasiin performs this song he lets Slick Rick's verse play out, so one night I just switched the beat up when his part came up and it worked real nice. I adjusted a couple parts when Rick comes in and laid the cuts on there that I came up with while performing it live.
The original took me to a market in North Africa. I used a record of an Egyptian singer performing live and it had the crowd noise in the background which was what I was looking for to get the outdoor market ambiance. When it comes to incredible string orchestras, Egypt is the place.
This was the second track I worked on for the project and it's the only one where the beat already existed. For all the others, I created around the vocal. The tempo was right, the horns hit me the same way as the original and it also had good changes to make it a little more up-tempo than the original.
Click through to page 2 to stream Yasiin x Preservation - "Quiet Dog Bite Hard" Refix -->
6. "Quiet Dog Bite Hard"
This was the first song I tried to remix. When the original came out, Damian Marley and K'Naan loved the track and wanted to do a version. I always thought the original could have been a Jamaican riddim. When approaching the new version I wanted to keep it with just drums. I looked through a bunch of records to find a Brazilian psych record that had a Forro rhythm that matched the original. This is probably my favorite remix off The REcstatic album.
7. "Life In Marvelous Times"
The main elements of this one all came from performing live. Yasiin asked if I could get the Rahsaan Roland Kirk “Bright Moments” for the intro of the song during the live show and then the body of the track came out of playing the track “Balek” from the group Placebo for an outro as he continues to sing the hook. I knew it was in-pitch and didn't have to search at all for a sample that would fit all the singing. Then I just got a philharmonic orchestra from Rome, Italy to do the strings. Ha.
8. "The Embassy"
We were just [performing] in Morocco and the hotel we were staying at had that Embassy feel. The original brought out the content of that song. With this I was just trying my best to match the grand feeling of an Embassy or 5-Star hotel lobby … official business status.
9. "No Hay Nada Mas"
I stayed in South America on this one. Even kept elements from the original beat, off a record I got in one of my most memorable trips, to Peru.
This one was super difficult. The original had so many different parts with singing on it, so that made it hard to find a sample with an equal number of parts that stayed in pitch with the vocal. There are lots of chops on this!
11. "Pretty Dancer"
Madlib's beat on the original is so tough. It’s one of my favorite beats on The Ecstatic. So I just wanted to keep that low drum percussive thing going, with different sounds coming up here and there within the track. I also had to bring the pretty dancer Ali on the vocal intro.
12. "Workers Comp"
I didn't always like this as I was making it, but it grew on me. Now it’s one of my favorites. It took a long time to find something for it because of the singing and the time signature. When I look back at some of the beats on this project, there are some I would have never made if it weren't for me trying to make something that fit a pre-existing element as the vocal. This is definitely one of them.
Bass. Say no more.
There was no way I could match the beauty of Georgia Anne [Muldrow]'s piano on the original. So I just wanted to do my best to do it justice. The sample search started with music a friend gave me that only appears in two small moments during Yasiin's verse. Then I found a piano that had very similar notes to the original, and got some drums together. I kept the same programming and added some orchestral elements to add some color to the canvas.
First, let me say: J Dilla in no way, shape or form ever needs to be remixed. This is more of a tribute to someone I hold in very high regard. The only reason I even attempted to remake this song was because I had the 45 of the male version of Mary Wells “Two Lovers.” I might not have done the whole REcstatic full album if it were not for me having that 45. That’s how daunting the idea of doing a Dilla tribute is to me.
16. "Black Fantastic"
“Casa Bey” [from The Ecstatic] is one of those tracks that is a perfect marriage between vocalist and musician. Sometimes it's immediate and sometimes it takes some searching to find that perfect accompaniment. The Banda Black Rio song [used on the original] is that perfect accompaniment. “Black Fantastic,” which is produced by Minnesota, not me, is just showing a step to get there. Yasiin really liked this version, too, so why not share it with the world?