Last week Jurassic 5 dropped their first single in what seemed like forever titled “The Way We Do It.” Produced by the late Heavy D and featuring a sample from The White Stripes “Denial Twist,” the old school hip-hop unit broke the Internet with their new joint.
Pop-Break’s Editor-in-Chief Bill Bodkin was particularly hyped not only because one of his all-time acts was back and producing new music, but the day after this single dropped, he had the opportunity to interview the band. So when this week’s column came up, the boss put his foot down and told the staff the new J5 track needed to be the singles party choice of the week.
So, the group examines if “The Way We Do It” a good single, a good comeback song and we give our thoughts on the use of the sample.
Nick Porcaro: I knew I would enjoy this from the very first verse. Any track that keeps the White Stripes’ aptitude for attitude while junking Jack White’s snotty singing is fine with me. As a reintroduction to J5 this single succeeds in spades. It’s got a crisp throwback sound that’s really been missing from rap radio as of late, unless you count last year’s Eminem single, “Berzerk”. (I don’t.)
I can’t recall the last time I heard a rap collective trade verses back and forth with such fervor, and the fact that each MC has a distinct voice and style certainly doesn’t hurt. This is a track that proves its worth so immediately, I won’t even bother with further analysis. Just take a listen and try not to bob your head in approval. I dare you. Verdict: Add to playlist!
So then let’s discuss—how much sampling is too much sampling? In the case of “The Way We Do It”, I see no problem with the song’s shameless adaptation of “My Doorbell” because Jurassic 5 twist the track on its head with their dense verses and a simple but infectious hook that’s entirely their own. Plenty of hip-hop tracks are constructed around a single extended sample but the best rappers create something new through their tone of voice and lyrical content. A successful end result recontextualizes the old song, serving to emphasize or contrast the new song’s message in a compelling manner.
And it doesn’t happen exclusively in hip-hop, either: Daft Punk is notorious for their heavy-handed sample usage on songs like “Robot Rock” and “Harder Better Faster Stronger”. I’d argue Kanye’s sampling of “Harder Better Faster Stronger” as a call-and-response hook on his hit single, “Stronger”, was far more clever than Daft Punk’s initial sampling of Edwin Birdsong’s “Cola Bottle Baby”.
What I do have a problem with, then, is when an artist lifts the entirety of a song—lyrics and melody included—and claims it as a new composition. Polow da Don received a credit as producer on the 2011 Lil Wayne single, “John”, even though the beat and hook were lifted wholesale from the Rick Ross track “I’m Not a Star”, an earlier production by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. I don’t care if Ross gave his blessing via guest verse, it’s still lazy, and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League are much, much better beatmakers than Polow da Don.
But anyway…the most egregious example I ever came across was when Fedde le Grand recently spun a sample of The Real Thing’s “Love’s Such a Wonderful Thing” in the EXACT SAME WAY as Together’s 2002 hit “So Much Love to Give”. In a genre as repetitive as EDM, it’s flat out unacceptable to copy another artist’s idea to that degree. Let’s keep things creative, guys.
Kelly O’Dowd: JURASSIC 5!!!!!!! This is an amazing track after eight years of nothing. Really, do yourself a favor and listen to this track, and when you’re done with that, go listen to their Quality Control.The video has footage of them in the winter with snow on the ground, but this is very much a top down, windows down summer song. You can’t help but be happy when this song is playing.
I think the biggest reason why is because J5 samples one of the catchiest hooks I’ve heard. The White Stripes “My Doorbell” is a song that just gets stuck in my head years after I’ve forgotten the song existed. Just the mention of the song gets that riff in my head. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that they used the sample so heavily. Don’t get me wrong, it works fantastically, but I think I was looking for more innovation. The two songs suit each other; I just wish there was some more variation in the way the sample was used.
I’m all for sampling. I love the idea of remixing something old and turning it into something new. Some might say one is lazy and can’t created something new so they just use other people’s work. I disagree. There is an art to sampling and remixing. It takes a very creative mind to see one thing and turn it into something new. Besides, everything is stolen from everyone else. (Led Zeppelin anyone?)
So in conclusion: YAY JURASSIC 5! YAY AWESOME SAMPLE USAGE! Boo to not having a more interesting take on the sample itself. Verdict: Add to playlist.
Jason Stives: One can call my bluff when it comes to my feelings about current hip hop; there is just something lacking in the flow of beats to verses and save for a few modern rappers I don’t find myself enjoying a lot of what comes out. So needless to say Jurassic 5’s “The Way We Do It” was ripe with what I felt was missing even if its about as throwback as it can be. The group hasn’t released new music in almost a decade and in that time the landscape of hip hop has changed greatly but something just balances itself out right here. From the moment J5 drops the first verse the song hooks easily and with production from the late Heavy D it’s old school hip hop that still feels a level of relevance today.
Compared to the Action Bronson song we profiled earlier in the year the sampling of The White Stripes’ “My Doorbell” works incredibly well. It serves as the main beat to the song but doesn’t overtake the group’s own creativity as Meg White’s hollow thumping drumbeat is a great launching point to every up and down verse. Sampling can be a great thing as much as a bad thing but here it doesn’t feel unwarranted and really compliments the song. Verdict: Add to the Playlist
Al Mannarino: I feel like I’m going to get a lot of shit for this from my fellow Pop-Break writers, but I have never listened to Jurassic 5 before their newest single, “The Way We Do It.” I can now say I don’t know what I have been doing with my life before Jurassic 5, but you can rest assure that I will be listening to their discography after I finish writing this post. This single was electrifying from the moment I hit play. Using a sample of “My Doorbell” by The White Stripes, Jurassic 5 channels classic hip-hop with an catchy riff from one of the most famous rock musicians of our time. This is Jurassic 5’s first new song in eight years, and I am hoping this is just beginning. Verdict: Add to Playlist
Lisa Pikaard: Wow. Well this is different and really impressive. I love the beat; it’s fun and infectious. You can’t help but bop along to the track from the first second. The ability of each member of Jurassic 5 to take on a verse or two and switch between everyone so seamlessly is impressive. Welcome back Jurassic 5. The sampling done is neither too little or overdone. I recommend listening to this track. I haven’t found a song with a beat and music that I have enjoyed this much in quite some time. I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I clicked play but I am glad that I did. Verdict- Add to Playlist and spread the word!
Bill Bodkin: “The Way We Do It” has been my jam since the moment it dropped last week. The hook, the beat, the lyrical flow — all intoxicating. It’s such an upbeat anthem, it’s classic J5. For those who might have forgotten about Jurassic 5 or are discovering them for the first time, this track absolutely perfect. It showcases all the vocals perfectly, it shows off the turntable gymnastic of Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark. Also, it captures the vibe of the group perfectly — fun, thoughtful, high energy, and crowd-pleasing. As for the sample, it couldn’t have been a better choice. It’s familiar but not tired and the way the track is produced, the sample isn’t the dominant aspect of the song. Simply put, Jurassic 5 is one of the most criminally underrated groups out there and I hope this track breaks them out the masses and they get the recognition they deserve.
Final Verdict: Stop reading — go download and listen to this track immediately!