Sample Wars: The Underachievers vs. MF Grimm

September 12, 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.

“Montara,” Bobby Hutcherson, 1975, samples appear at :21 and :53: Bobby Hutcherson’s “Montara” is one of those ’70s jazz cuts that sounds like it was created just so some blunted producer could find it twenty years later and make laid-back magic. A slow, latin-inflected rhythm ambles along as Hutcherson’s mallets dance back and forth above. There’s some virtuosic soloing in the middle section, but both the Underachievers and MF Grimm’s tracks take from the mellow, vibraphone-led head.

“Do It For The Kids,” MF Grimm, produced by Rob Swift, 1998, sample appears at :00: And absolutely nasty slice of mid-’90s New York rap, “Do It For the Kids” pairs “Montara”‘s vibes with classic boom-bap and a sax solo of unknown origin. Grimm somehow manages to make incredibly mean-spirited bars about killing a rival, then flirting with his widow at the funeral sound charming and perfectly reasonable.

“Land of Lords,” The Underachievers, produced by Taleil Brown, 2013, sample appears at :00: Brooklynites The Underachievers are the latest bunch of NYC kids with a penchant for ’90s nostalgia and laid-back charisma to spare to make waves on the internet and within the five boroughs. And though their latest finds them experimenting with new sounds via super-producer Lex Luger, “Land of Lords” from breakout mixtape Indigoism finds them squarely in their hazy, freewheeling comfort zone.

The Verdict: “Land of Lords” is perfectly serviceable NYC rap–perfect head-knodding, stoop-chilling music. “Do It for The Kids” is great for that too, but came out nearly a two decades earlier and has an energy and menace that the Underachievers can’t quite parallel (yet). I love the idea of musicians like The Underachievers and Joey Bada$$’s Pro Era paying tribute to the sounds of the city they’re from while they work out their own artistic voices, but in this case, the teacher is still the teacher.