REVOLT TV presents ‘The Produce Section,’ a column where we put the spotlight on the men and women behind the beats we love so much and their contributions to the culture as a whole. From profiling and interviewing the hottest producers of today to acknowledging the greatest producers of all-time and delving deep into their discographies, The Produce Section is the hub where beats, rhymes and life connect.
Producers have long been the backbone of rap music, providing emcees and rappers alike with the sonic backdrops over which they bare their souls and share their stories. Rap artists may get much of the fanfare and are front and center. However, without the producer toiling away behind the scenes, crafting the instrumentals; the lyrics would be reduced to spoken word and hip hop would be nonexistent as we know it.
In this edition of “The Produce Section,” we profile Easy Mo Bee, one of the most pivotal and invaluable producers who helped shape the sound of east coast rap during the mid ‘90s. Hailing from Brooklyn, he got his feet wet as a boards-man with his work on Big Daddy Kane’s It’s A Big Daddy Thing, which led to him working with other Cold Chillin Records artists. The next step in his evolution would be his collaborations with Miles Davis, which manifested in the late jazz great’s 1992 release Doo-Bop. But, it would be his work with two of rap’s defining figures of the decade that would etch his name in the annals of history.
Contributing to albums and hit singles by The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, Easy Mo Bee’s approval rating reached its apex, as his work jumped to the Billboard charts. Lending his talents to a laundry list of rap artists throughout his career, the beatsmith is regarded as an elder statesman with a track record that demands respect.
In the latest installment of our series, we celebrate and highlight 11 of Easy Mo Bee’s most iconic beats that define his excellence behind the boards.
1. “Calling Mr. Welfare”
Big Daddy Kane spread love the Brooklyn way when he entrusted Easy Mo Bee with delivering a pair of beats for his sophomore album, It’s A Big Daddy Thing, which earned the product of Lafayette Gardens two of the first placements of his career. Doing work with a James Brown loop, Mo Bee lifts horns from “The Chicken,” incorporates a sample of “The Message From the Soul Sisters” by Myra Barnes, and combines them with kicks and snares.
2. “Party & Bullshit”
Easy Mo Bee helped introduce a young rap phenom by the name of The Notorious B.I.G. via his production work on the pride of St. James Place’s contribution to the Who’s The Man soundtrack. Stripping sirens from ESG’s “UFO” and layering them atop a sample of “I’ll Be There” by Johnny Hammond, the purveyor of boom-bap put together a brooding backdrop for Biggie to hold court over, putting the whole rap world on notice of what was yet to come.
3. “Flava In Ya Ear”
The moment Bad Boy Records officially planted its flag as the new standard bearer for east coast rap can be traced back to the release of Craig Mack’s debut single “Flava In Ya Ear.” The song, which was powered by a sample from “Warriors Come Out and Play,” topped the rap charts and crossed over into the mainstream. This spawned arguably the greatest remix of all-time.
4. “Gimme The Loot”
Booming drums and a dusty riff from the Ohio Players’ 1971 cut “Singing in the Morning” greets listeners from the jump on this cinematic salvo from The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die album. With an ominous sample from “Coldblooded” by James Brown adding to the suspense, the boards-man delivers one of the trademark backdrops in his catalog.
Elements from Isaac Hayes’ “Walk on By” gets looted and repackaged for this classic selection, which has become one of the definitive examples of Frank White’s lyrical wizardry behind the mic. Even before the iconic words, “Who the hell is this paging me at 5:46?” are uttered by the notorious one, Easy Mo Bee’s thunderous drums and sample already have your undivided attention.
6. “Str8 Ballin”
2Pac enlisted the services of the producer to craft this track for his 1994 group project, Thug Life, which cast Pac alongside Big Syke, Macadoshis, Mopreme, and The Rated R. Drawing from funk legend Bootsy Collins’ 1977 cut “What’s a Telephone Bill?,” Mo Bee pairs a sped-up sample of the original with light percussion and turns in one of the album’s most enduring compositions.
7. “The Points”
In 1995, Easy Mo Bee rounded up some of rap’s most renowned artists for this star-studded contribution to the politically charged film Panther. Featuring The Notorious B.I.G., Coolio, Redman, Ill Al Skratch, Big Mike, Busta Rhymes, Buckshot, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony; this posse-cut stacks up well among the best of its era and is an impressive display of the producer’s talents.
8. “Lifestylez of the Rich & Shameless”
In 1995, Lost Boyz burst onto the scene with their debut single, which saw Easy Mo Bee laying drums from “Long Red” by Mountain atop a bass line from “Jealousy” by Club Nouveau. Released independently, the song became a street anthem. It would peak at No. 10 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and attract the attention of Uptown Records, which would ink the Queens quartet to a deal.
9. “Jeeps, Lex Coups Bimaz and Benz”
Mr. Cheeks, Freaky Tah and company kept themselves in heavy rotation in 1996 with this feel-good single, which had the highly sought after beatsmith’s craftsmanship written all over it. Built around elements of “Italian From New York” by Chicago,” this jam climbed all the way to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart and is one of Mo Bee’s more lively instrumentals.
At the sound of Pac’s command, the producer drops one of his most intoxicating instrumentals, which contains a sample of Zapp’s 1985 hit “Computer Love” atop kicks and snares pilfered from “Sing a Simple Song” by Sly & the Family Stone. Released as the third single from 2Pac’s third solo studio album, Me Against the World, the track peaked at No. 13 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and was further evidence of his and Mo Bee’s chemistry.
11. “Goin Back to Cali”
Zapp’s 1980 hit “More Bounce to the Ounce” gets reworked for this celebratory jam from The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death album. While the irony of the song’s title still haunts die-hard fans of the late rapper’s, the sentiments that Biggie’s lyrics and Easy Mo Bee’s production conveyed makes it an undeniable classic that continues to bang from coast to coast.