Today's Beat Of The Week spotlights the legendary Clyde Stubblefield, widely recognized as the most-sampled drummer in history. Join us as we explore the magic that unfolds when I take an audio loop of Clyde's drums, pair it with a corresponding MIDI loop, infuse it with unique drum sounds, add a touch of guiro, and then top it off with the captivating funk guitar stylings of Charlie Hunter. Oh, and be sure to click here to subscribe to the YouTube channel for all future videos.
#1: The Spark
It's nearly impossible not to be influenced by the sound of Clyde Stubblefield's drums. As a standout member of James Brown's band, he's renowned for his classic drum grooves in songs like "Cold Sweat," "I Got The Feeling," and, most notably, "Funky Drummer." Why is it so noteworthy? Here's a list of songs that all incorporate the iconic "Funky Drummer" break:
Public Enemy - "Fight the Power"
N.W.A - "Straight Outta Compton"
LL Cool J - "Mama Said Knock You Out"
Run-D.M.C. - "Run's House"
Beastie Boys - "Shadrach"
George Michael - "Freedom! '90"
Sinead O'Connor - "I Want Your (Hands on Me)"
So, it's safe to say that when you hear a Clyde Stubblefield drumbeat, there's typically an immediate, spontaneous, and creative spark. That spark struck me like a lightning bolt when I listened to a loop from his Yurt Rock collection titled "GrooveB_YouSaid_100.5bpm." This straightforward funk groove features eighth notes on the hi-hat and a few brilliantly placed ghost notes on the snare, a signature of Clyde's style.
#2: The Production Process
To enhance the impact and uniqueness of the kick and snare, I imported the matching MIDI loop into a new software track in Logic and made use of their classic Ultrabeat drum plug-in. Ultrabeat, with its interface that harkens back to the mid-2000s, exudes a certain nostalgic charm. It's as if you can almost catch a whiff of that era by staring at the screen for long enough. Go ahead. Breathe it in. Nevertheless, it still offers a range of excellent sounds, such as the "Adept Machine" preset that I employed for this loop.
Now that I had a solid drum groove, I decide to add a bit of forward momentum by adding a guiro loop from the great percussionist, Damon Grant. This is a 16th note groove that fils in the gaps between Clyde's 8th notes on the hi hats, and thus, propels the beat forward.
And to top off the beat, I decided to go down the rabbit hole of funk (aka Charlie Hunter's loop library) and found this extra greasy groove. For those of you unaware of Charlie, he is one of the most innovative and respected "guitar" players in the world. And by "guitar", I mean that he plays the bass and regular guitar all at once, all on one instruments. It's something you have to witness in person to truly appreciate. He splits his brain into two parts (not literally, but I'm sure there are sickos who would pay to see that...) and plays two totally independent parts at the same time.
On top of having an incredible solo career. Charlie has also recorded with artists like D'Angelo, Frank Ocean, Norah Jones and John Mayer (just to name a few). To find the right loop for this track, I opened up Charlie's library from his "Duo" release, featuring the great Carter Mclean, and started to scroll through the folder of grooves appropriately titled, "sauce". And yes, the sauce of this particular loop was just the flavor I was looking for.
Now that I had all of the tracks in Logic, I did a bit of mixing to glue it all together. I did a bit of surgical EQ on Clyde's drums to make room for the low end in Charlie's guitar, set the levels of Ultrabeat to compliment (but not overpower) the kick and snare, and snuck in the guiro loop to tie it all together:
#3: The Free Download
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