Sample Wars: Tyler, The Creator vs. Madlib

April 4, 2013 | Andy Cush

Each week in Sample Wars, we’ll pit two songs which sample the same source material head-to-head against each other, to determine which one rocked the sample better.

To mark this week’s release of Wolf, Tyler, the Creator’s third album, we’re reaching back to the rapper’s debut. Bastard‘s “Odd Toddlers” draws extensively from “Huit Octobre 1971” by the French fusion band Cortex, a track that Madlib raided for MF Doom’s “One Beer” and Jaylib’s “No Games.”

“Huit Octobre 1971,” Cortex, 1975, (samples appear at TK): Practically unknown in the mainstream but beloved by rare groove enthusiasts, Cortex’s Troupeau Bleu is so tied to sampling culture that the normally encyclopedic Allmusic.com mistakenly identifies it as a rap album. There’s very little information about the French jazz-funk outfit online, and physical copies of Troupeau Bleu fetch top dollar from collectors, but do a little quasi-legal digging and you’ll find most of their output available digitally. “Huit Octobre 1971” in particular sounds like a transmission from another planet, with cascading drums and falsetto trading bars with electric piano soloing and straightforward synth funk.

“One Beer,” MF Doom, 2004, and “No Games,” Jaylib, 2003, both produced by Madlib (samples appear at :00): Madlib may deserve more credit for his curatorial ear than he does for his talents as a producer in the strictest sense. Here, as with the last time he showed up in Sample Wars, Madlib mostly finds a dope loop and stays out of its way. But what a loop it is, and the beat was so nice they used it twice–first on Champion Sound, his collaborative album with J Dilla as Jaylib, and again a year later on MF Doom’s MM..Food. 

“Odd Toddlers,” Tyler, the Creator feat. Casey Veggies, produced by Tyler, the Creator, 2009 (samples appear at :00): The third track on Tyler’s first album, “Odd Toddlers” offers a brief moment of relative levity on an otherwise dark, dense set of songs. The beat plays like a screwed version of Madlib’s, slowing the samples down but using almost all of the same loops. It’s mostly inconsequential–Tyler’s harder-hitting stuff tends to be more effective–but bonus points for hitting “I’m so dapper, man/Funky fresh dapper dan” just as “Huit Octobre”‘s swaggering bridge riff comes in.

The Verdict: Though ordinarily I wouldn’t make a decision based on who found the sample first, the tracks are so similar and Tyler’s love for Madlib so well-documented that I’d be shocked if “Odd Toddlers” wasn’t some kind of homage. With that in mind, we have to give it up for the originator.