When Drake dropped a flashbang of a mixtape a few weeks ago, listeners with a sympathetic ear were stunned. In many parts of North America, and especially in the infamous 6, winter was still cruel, cold, and suplexing commutes and hopes for warmer days like it didn’t give a blustery f***.
So, new beats and croons by arguably the most famous Canadian in the world were much appreciated.
As a primer, a short film predicated the release of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. The film, “Jungle,” is part music video, part home video (but what about that part where he goes Super Saiyan?), and partly an exploration of Drake’s curious new accent. As an aside, it may be an effect of hip-hop that one speaks in various tones, inflecting differently depending on the album of the time.
At any rate, we get a lot of looks at Drake’s mug over the course of the 14+ minutes of “Jungle.” What we were waiting for, however, the titular sound, doesn’t come until the credits drop. The music during the end credits is a soft lullaby laid over a loudly clapping snare. What that sound was, that is, what sample Drake culled for his song “Jungle” — I needed to discover.
Lo, the Internet is a wily thing. A drunken Google search on my phone, “sample drake jungle?” yielded speedy and plenty of results. Remember Gabriel Garzón-Mantono? Of Columbian and French descent, this native New Yorker studied classical and traditional instruments — from the violin to bass guitar — before taking funk to new territory.
Garzón-Mantano’s debut EP, Bishouné: Alma del Huila, is a compact six tracks which project a balance between the emotive responses one can cull from analog and digital and human and cosmic sounds. Recently interviewed and dressed-up by Spin, he describes the feeling: “It’s a beautiful object to hold, a record. It’s real, and now it’s out there and not even mine anymore.”
As an unabashed fan of D’Angelo, to hear the familiar swish of latin sounds coupled with the depth and song of soul and R&B, may make a fool of a fan out of me when I listen to Bishouné. Yet, what I love more than D’Angelo is Drake (see: above). Discovering the connection between Drizzy of Toronto and Garzón-Mantono is what propels my interest in the form. It’s something beyond the economics, the trends; it’s what reoccurs as samples or cribbed sounds, that reaffirms a tradition aiming to vibrate the air in the most especial way.
How did he feel when he learned that the cultural mainstay was going to project his sound to the millennial millions? As he told Spin, “It steps up the intensity of the disconnect between where I’m at and where these gestures are coming from.”
Taste is a vacuous word. It delimits what it seeks to convey. Yet, what underlies a sense of taste is that it changes. It sharpens or dulls, intensifies or fades, exists or abstracts. Taste or no, what compels the musician to create is a learned sense of history — of what came before. Rare is the sound created in a vacuum. What’s most impressive about Garzón-Mantono is his unabashedness. “I lift words and phrases here and there, because it’s all public domain now.” So says a man of his era with knowledge of what precedents were set and looped, to be covered or sampled alike.