Oliver $, Doin’ Ya Thang

[Play It Down]


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Forgive me for stating something too true, but there are innumerable reasons to love Moodymann. Whether it’s his wealth of stone cold classic tracks, endlessly quotable interviews or irrepressible live performances, Kenny Dixon Jr.’s alter ego has been an endless source of inspiration and entertainment for generations of producers and party-goers. In recent years many artists have more blatantly mimicked his aesthetic, in particular through the use of looped crowd noise. Producers have only grown bolder in their appropriations, with youANDme, Blawan, and others generously sampling KDJ’s instant classic Red Bull Music Academy interview to impart his inimitable charisma in otherwise unmemorable tracks. But the most audacious example of riding his coattails is undoubtedly Oliver $’s Doin’ Ya Thang, a record that swiftly admits it has nothing to offer besides extended samples of a Moodymann DJ set.

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Unlike your typical DJ set, Moodymann’s give off the atmosphere of an old school house party — a disjointed but engaging selection of vintage funk, soul, disco and even rock tunes narrated by the man himself on the microphone. It’s this latter part that Oliver $ exploits wholesale for “Doin’ Ya Thang,” pasting lengthy chunks of KDJ’s signature patter (eg. “Y’all motherfuckers having a good time?”) onto a rudimentary house beat. The dub mix makes clear how just indebted it is to the samples, its two-note bass line essentially marking time for seven minutes while Oliver adjusts filters. It’s difficult to say what’s more galling: that Oliver felt no qualms about commercially bootlegging someone he supposedly respects; the lack of effort spent developing his own contribution; or this track’s position atop Beatport’s sales charts and RA’s May chart. The impulse to emulate Moodymann is understandable. Oliver $ opting to turn KDJ’s last unexploited facet — his very livelihood — into a sub-par facsimile for his own material gain is frankly deplorable. Save your money and ears for a Moodymann DJ set at a club near you.

Soren Jahan  on June 22, 2011 at 2:42 AM

Strongly agreed. Thank you for saying it how it is. They’ll never steal Moody’s soul.

XXX  on June 22, 2011 at 2:46 AM

Congratulations of making a briefly popular, but instantly forgettable track.

stu  on June 22, 2011 at 10:18 AM

totally outrageous and shameless. I wonder how Moody feels about this? (if he’s even heard about it).

hub  on June 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM

i never leave comments but i was at the cutloose night where this sample is ripped from… it was a great night and the description of moody’s set is spot on. neither cutloose or kdj deserve to be a victim of such an unoriginal and shameful act.

full support to LWE for the review – RA should be embarassed they gave it 4 out of 5… principles matter more than ever in this day and age.

John  on June 22, 2011 at 11:56 AM

This is god-awful. Having never heard Moodymann live or having that much exposure to his music, I can still say how offensive this is just by quality alone. Boring shit.

Ianers  on June 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Thats shit

lerato  on June 22, 2011 at 3:59 PM

spot on review . sadly this is what is happening right now with the so called deep house hype . if you go on any given online store and go on the deep house section , 98 percent of the trax on there at any given time especially the european records are just rip offs . and very bad rip offs at that .
we can all make records these days with minimum effort apparently .
i go through at least 30 or more demos each day with half baked ideas . where is the soul ? what about putting yourself on the line ? nah i will just rip off moody or any other person that is successful instead . sad state of affairs .

enda  on June 22, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Was having a conversation over a few drinks about this track last week, and this review articulates exactly what I couldn’t at the time. Creative sampling is one thing, but this to me is a form of exploitation.

SP  on June 22, 2011 at 5:54 PM

“The dub mix makes clear how just indebted it is to the samples, its two-note bass line essentially marking time for seven minutes while Oliver adjusts filters.”

truth

what’s surprising to me is that Jesse Rose decided to put this out, would’ve expected better

stu  on June 23, 2011 at 8:06 AM

I suppose i could sympathise with this as a dj tool for use in Oliver S’ sets’, but the general release of it is a disgrace to artistic integrity.

Niall  on June 23, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Was reading this at work sneering at a bunch of white boys getting precious over KDJ … but now that I’ve heard the track (not getting out much these days) … Sweet Jesus, that’s absolute nonsense. Fair enough, then.

Euro-house: generally wrong, but this is a new low.

kuri  on June 23, 2011 at 4:49 PM

wow, this is really awful. and now just after reading heard/saw this track sampling KDJ as well: http://www.discogs.com/Homework-Hudson-Square-EP/release/2729890. jesus, pretty soon there will be a new genre of house called “KDJ rip-off house.”

wax  on June 24, 2011 at 5:22 AM

Not into the track myself, but see it’s appeal for the party. It’s kind of amusingly ironic, have you all forgotten that KDJ has made his career from sampling other people? One of his biggest records Shades of Jae is sampling the same kind of live chat from Marvin Gaye that this track is doing to him. It’s nothing to get upset about, if you don’t like it don’t buy it. I am sure Kenny is not losing sleep about it.

Anton  on June 24, 2011 at 10:01 AM

That’s an interesting point, wax, but there are considerable differences between KDJ’s sampling and Oliver $’s.

01. KDJ sampled older records, ones by artists who were no longer performing or even dead. On the other hand, Oliver sampled KDJ’s live gig, from which he probably makes most of his money and is well known. So while there was little chance that the snippets KDJ used impinged on the livelihood of the artists who made them, Oliver is directly co-opting that which keeps KDJ afloat for his own commercial gain. We wouldn’t be cool with an artist using footage from someone else’s concert for their own show; I don’t see this as much different.

02. Through careful editing and arranging, KDJ transformed his sample source into his own songs. Oliver took long, full sections of a performance and arranged them around a beat. There’s very little artistry here. And that’s probably what’s worst about this track: musically it’s awful. It sounds like something that would’ve been made for fun during a person’s first few sessions with Ableton.

03. Excusing this track because of “its appeal to the party” misses the point. When someone plays this track it’s saying, “I don’t have enough charisma, nerve, talent and poise to keep you interested with my track selection and mixing. Here’s Moodymann to spice things up.” It’s lazy, and DJs who are truly worth their fee shouldn’t stoop this low.

04. KDJ might not be losing sleep over being bootlegged — it happens to him all the time, he’s probably resigned to it by now — but that doesn’t make it right. Keeping a party going isn’t a reason for moral relativism. Stealing someone’s likeness for commercial purposes would’ve been grist for a lawsuit in mainstream music. The underground should be just as protective of its heroes.

wax  on June 27, 2011 at 3:46 AM

Anton, I have to respectfully disagree on your points here.
1. This is not true. Chic are not dead and still performing as is Prince and Donna Summer. KDJ is clearly sampling copyrighted materials. I am not a music lawyer but its quite possible that the sample used in Oliver’s track is in public domain.
Unless of course he had registered the recording as copyrighted, which I doubt as KDJ makes a living from breaking copyright laws.
2. So to take an example, you are suggesting that KDJ ‘You can dance’ is transforming the source material into his own, it’s a loop from Prince, pitched down on repeat. Easily done on ‘ableton’ or an mpc or sp1200. The soul of these tracks comes from the original artists not KDJ.
3. Thats just your opinion and is not factually correct. Lets not get the two issues confused. I suppose that if the track had a Detroit matrix number and was on a ltd white label I think this discussion would not be taking place.
4. ‘Stealing someone’s likeness for commercial purposes’ is what KDJ does for a living. So you statement here is incorrect. How can KDJ or yourself claim that he has the moral high ground here when the majority of KDJ’s output is effectively bootleg re-edits?
As I said I am not a big fan of the track, and I am a big fan of KDJ, but the reasons for coming down on Oliver for the tracks success are moot points.

Anton  on June 27, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Thanks for continuing this dialogue, wax, this was basically the aim of the review.

The crux of your argument seems to be, if KDJ used samples he himself can be sampled (or boiled down further, if anyone is allowed to sample, any sample is OK). I can see why this is a compelling argument and it’s been used against me several times before regarding issues of sampling.

My belief is that sampling itself is not the problem, but lazy, uninspired sampling is a problem. It doesn’t matter what tech is used to do it, it’s about turning someone else’s idea into your own: identifying a cool moment and turning it into your own cool moment. Oliver’s idea of a cool moment seems to be using significant portions of a Moodymann show (not even a record) verbatim. Can you see how that’s lazy in a way that picking a particular break and rearranging it is not? They’re not fundamentally different in their origins, but they end result is miles apart: “You Can Dance” is a new track that hints at Prince; “Doin’ Ya Thang” is a Moodymann live PA with a simple new beat. The soul comes from both the source material and what the sampler does with it.

To your dismissal of my point/opinion about not being convinced by the excuse about the track’s “appeal to the party”: This was merely opinion rather than fact, but it spoke to a specific argument: people use this track because it’s fun to see Moodymann live and a lot of people wish they had his magnetic personality and presence. Most people do not, and would never dream of getting on the mic in a similar fashion. But they’re comfortable with a track that combines those two truths in a way that gets them off the hook of having to a) be that charismatic themselves b) book Moodymann. The “Detroit matrix number and was on a ltd white label” is not part of this — I’m not concerned about defending Detroit and would give a Detroit artist the same kind of shit for doing something similar. I am concerned about people no longer giving a shit about a sample is used.

You note that perhaps what Oliver sampled was public domain. Legality is not the issue I’m concerned with. I will say that the guys who threw the party did not consent to having the set recorded, and it stands to reason that KDJ didn’t either. While KDJ has made sampling a large part of his music, he hasn’t gotten by on how much his tracks identify as Prince or Donna Summer or whoever. He’s become popular because he’s made a career of clever sampling in a way that you’re thinking, hey this is a cool track (and maybe, I wonder what it samples). In Oliver’s case, he’s made a track that scans immediately as Moodymann and coasts by on that association. What new take on a Moodymann live PA did he provide? What insight or new facet did he reveal by taking minute long chunks of KDJ performing? Nothing. He wanted something dancers could relate to without the hard work that comes with creating that something on your own, even if doing so just means re-editing something to fit a new arrangement.

I have few qualms with the concept of re-editing. The original artist has largely made their money the first go round and was not involved with whatever re-imagining was done. What does piss me off is when someone thinks they can claim rights to an artist’s live show pretty much wholesale. As many of us know, many artists don’t make much money from record sales, they recoup expenses through live performances. So while KDJ is out there trying to make a living from his performances, Oliver is in some ways decreasing the demand for a Moodymann show by commoditizing it — making an infinite supply of his show in a neat little package. That is the main distinction between what he and KDJ have done. Describing the two as equal is a mistake.

It’s funny, because the more I think about it the less it would’ve bothered me if Oliver had taken small bits from the KDJ set and make a cool beat to accompany it. But that’s not what he did. Lazy, uninspired music sucks. That it’s based on a sample source so many relate to is just the launching pad for a familiar argument.

psc423  on June 27, 2011 at 10:58 AM

interesting and all good arguments but….

kdj prob couldnt give less of a shit…

he knows he could burn oliver’s ass any day

oove  on June 28, 2011 at 11:49 AM

I’m not sure about this track as well. I agree with all people here. more or less! Well I heard it first when it was played at panorama bar by an UK-based artist. it went down like hell, was the tune of the day/night/whatever … and that’s what it is – another party bomb! its maybe not correct to sample KDJ, easy-made and not THAT creative at all. but people seem to love it! And panorama bar djs usually dont play any beatport charts, you know? So “underground party people” (if I may call it like that) seem to love that tune as well, so…. I think it’s just …. alright! and it’s a good idea anyway. So I dont see that Mr. Oliver is doing something wrong here. Plus I agree with wax on the detroit-stamped-white-thang. and in the end moody will even get more (positive) attention through this, I bet! That’s exactly what’s happening here right now, isn’t it?

but … I will not get this, there are much better records out there.

harrison  on June 30, 2011 at 5:01 PM

not arsed about the sampling this is just a boring track end of!

milton  on July 3, 2011 at 12:44 PM

the only reason this track is receiving so much criticism is because it became so popular. Play It Down is a sub-label of Made To Play, its more of an output for low-key, eccentric releases that Jesse Rose likes. stuff that’s a bit deeper and not as tongue-in-cheek as the MTP bounce and jack. i think they never expected this track to become as big as it did – apparently it worked very well for dj’s, and i think oliver is laughing about it…

i personally don’t like the sound of it either, but i don’t see why people are hating so hardcore.

Stephen  on July 4, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Hey guys, my first post here.

Anton, that is a top review, and the manner by which you reply to those on the forum is both respectful and intriguing, often unlike the forums on other sites. Hats off.

M  on July 6, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Fascinating debate this has sparked.

Anton, I believe your review is a thoughtful and honest piece of writing, but it’s clearly based on your personal view that “good” music must be new/innovative in some way, always clashing with the notion that simple DJ tools can prove just as deadly on the dancefloor.

I’m not going to lie, the first time I heard this track, I instantly dug it. The groove is elementary, but there is just something about the arrangement of the vocals that does the trick. Again, the record may be a novelty, but that’s what it prides itself on. oove’s story of it going off in Panorama Bar is a testament to that fact.

It gets much more interesting, however, when the question of accountability in the sample/sampling is thrown in the mix, as you have done well in your review. If the promoters recorded the KDJ Manchester set without Kenny’s consent, that could be the end of story. After it gets out online, considering the promoters never claimed the rights to it in the first place, it is in the “public domain” as wax has suggested. Laws aside, there seems to be a moral issue here that is rooted in the tales of economic hardship for Detroit musicians that has been told ad nauseum, but nonetheless holds some value. If a producer can rip off someone’s work (or voice or whatever), and make a bundle off of the Beatport charts (which inherently go against the motivations of KDJ and his vinyl labels) for a “selfish” benefit for him/herself and a large corporation, a deeper problem, which you hint at in your review, arises.

Play it Down started as a neat project from Jesse to put out deeper releases from his roster that he wanted to see on a limited run of wax (200 a piece). Maybe if he decided to keep the label strictly vinyl, it would be a totally different story…

“Doin’ Ya Thang” I think unintentionally raises some really important questions about copyright as well as artistic integrity that are rarely addressed in such a liberal sampling atmosphere. It is also a completely sick tune.

Nik  on July 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM

interesting points all around. some more to ponder: as was suggested by M, i believe oliver never intended to “cash in” on KDJ’s career. no one “cashes in” with releases these days, even with a tune getting played all over the place and hitting the top spot on beatport. it’s a fun, throwdown housetool with a simple bassline and some vocal ramblings, fittingly saying “y’all having a good night?”. now the vocals happen to be by KDJ, thus becoming more than the simple party-mc’ing which a part of their content implies, but rather a statement that shall not be desecrated. i don’t blame oliver for not anticipating this, because he never meant the thing to become so big. the money he’ll make from this is most definately going to go into making more music, some of which may even one day garner a favourable review here. it’s not like will i am ripped off KDJ, it’s bloody oliver $.

on another note, i recently heard stacey pullen (yes, he of 2nd generation-detroit-pioneer-fame) play a totally bland set of traktor-fuelled zeitgeist-techhouse, with “doin’ ya thang” being the only track that stood out. now THAT’S depressing. and in fact, the crowd went off before the vocals kicked in. that bassline may be simple and lazy-retro, but it has some merit to itself.

Benjamin  on July 21, 2011 at 4:46 AM

This is a comment i found on discogs…and it says is perfect.

“”” OK OK, summer’s here, let’s not be too demanding, all we want is aperitifs (for instance here in Paree, Perroquet which is Pastis with mint syrup and ice, very nice), nice, smiling, sweetly perfumed booties shakin on that obvious, simplistic summer house hit, nothing too complex, but keeping the groove. Well people, Oliver $ has that in stock for ya, a basic deep enough house groove, claps, keys, over the ubercool, loooose voice of Kenny Dixon Jr captured while motherfuckin jammin at some random party (and as some would say again those days, KDJ’s got swag). Genius is the breaks and the simple organ lick coming just at the right moment after aforementioned break. Basically this track sounds like ‘simplified KDJ’ for beginners, or a step on detox for people coming from 10 years of Bob Sinclar or cheesy tribal stuff, on the way to something deeper. Simple, efficient, pleasant. “””

gus  on September 24, 2011 at 8:53 AM

blawan’s track unmemorable? yeah ok

sleepingodnkey  on October 24, 2011 at 7:21 PM

sampling moodymann is just retarded. dudes name is oliver DOLLAR. he’s just doing it for a buck. someone’s talking about KDJ ‘You can dance’ … which came out in 1997.. its’ 2011 dude, wake up! actress ripped off prince too.. but you know what? dudes are black. deal with it whitey, you’re shit is crap. lol

jon  on September 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM

in the basements of the hip hop world, we would spend time in the playing instrumentals, and just laying down stuff like richard pryor or redd foxx vox on top. it’s a thing to do. now, we didn’t go and sell it (which i presume has happened here, and that’s why people are pissed?) but on the surface, this track was new to me, and it was HOT when i first heard it.

in fact, it’s my first introduction to Moodyman.

i’m coming in as an outsider and seeing a lot of what i see in my underground hip hop circles–a lot of hate that really really? is because something got popular and you think you could have done it yourself, but you wouldn’t ‘cos of integrity and all that. 😉

i’m thankful that this track exists, it introduced me to some otha shit. :)

jon  on September 16, 2014 at 10:28 AM

and hold on though–this is the same dude who’s Black Mahogani? i heard a track from his that had that crowd loop stuff i did in the early 2000s — 2003 in fact (http://jonmadison.bandcamp.com/track/901-edit) — i didn’t know black mahogani from adam then…it may be his “signature sound”, but creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Trackbacks

Moodymann at Hit by a Pitch  on July 21, 2011 at 10:14 PM

[…] myself by thinking I was the first person on the internet to figure this out, but I’m not. These people beat me to it. I ended up feeling bad for including that Oliver $ song on a playlist and pimping it at least once […]

Elvis Did It Too… « thegoodmorningpost  on August 18, 2011 at 10:29 AM

[…] Anton Kipfel, a reviewer also on Little White Earbuds, does a great job putting words to my feelings in his review of the track. […]

Oliver $ Explains Doin’ Ya Thang To LWE – Little White Earbuds  on August 18, 2011 at 2:45 PM

[…] on Play It Down. While club audiences, Beatport shoppers and RA charters ate it up, many (including our own reviewer) felt the track exploited Kenny Dixon Jr.’s bountiful personality without giving him any […]

PBR Streetgang, The Downstroke | Little White Earbuds  on March 22, 2012 at 12:03 AM

[…] the record. LWE has addressed this subject before with Oliver $’s Kenny Dixon Jr. plundering “Doin’ Ya Thang”; and it bears repeating that I have no qualms with any sampling as a basis for a new track. What […]

Moodymann | aniccata  on October 11, 2013 at 1:18 PM

[…] myself by thinking I was the first person on the internet to figure this out, but I’m not. These people beat me to it. I ended up feeling bad for including that Oliver $ song on a playlist and pimping it at least once […]

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