Ultimate Break & Beats have a promising series on their hands with this release from hip-hop producer, Oh No (audio)
A couple of questions before I get into this review: 1) Are you familiar with the Ultimate Breaks & Beats series? And 2) do you like hip-hop? If you have answered “yes” to either of those two questions odds are you are gonna like this. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say it’s one of the best beat-tape albums I’ve heard in awhile.
So for those of you unfamiliar with Ultimate Breaks & Beats, they were a series of compilations that were released during the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s that essentially took the all the biggest breaks and samples in hip-hop tracks and laid them bare for public knowledge. They were pretty divisive back in the day, especially since a lot of hip-hop producers and DJs were known for being extremely secretive about what they were using and these compilations were basically “hip-hop for dummies”. These days as time has gone on, UBB seems to be retroactively getting the respect they deserve from the elder statesmen of hip-hop. And now with Oh No’s fray into classic sample territory, it’ll be interesting to hear/see what the label does from here on out.
If UBB is going to continue this series, however, I wish them the best of luck since Oh No has set the bar impossibly high. Oh No (aka Michael Jackson and younger brother of another musical genius, Otis Jackson Jr. aka Madlib), in the simplest terms has absolutely destroyed this set. It’s a loud, brash, exciting, and often unpredictable mix of hip-hop beats that surprisingly do the source material justice. I must say, Oh No probably could’ve obscured the sample sources a little more but surprisingly most of them are laid pretty bare, and I say that in the best possible way. In keeping the majority of the songs somewhat in tact, he’s managed to show a lot of love the to the songs on here but flipping and changing them enough so they’re definitely not just loops. Add in some classic hip-hop samples from documentaries and movies (I’m pretty sure I heard little bits and pieces from Style Wars and Wild Style but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) and you get a far more enjoyable listen that this album has any right to be.
However, the obvious complaints about an album of this ilk still stands; too many songs are just too short and leave you wanting more. Also, as a record head, I would have preferred this thing on a double LP rather than having a 13 track side B, which makes it kinda annoying for DJ purposes. All that aside, it’s still a highly entertaining listen with more twists and turns than I expected. Anybody looking to get a hip-hop history lesson while being able to break their neck at the same time should look no further than this.