Rodriguez Jr., Kids of Hula

[Leena Music]

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Perhaps more than any other genres, dance music inspires, nay, beckons for the existence of copycats. Whether it’s the natural tendency to follow hitmakers’ lead with one’s own interpretation or the myriad technological opportunities to emulate sounds found in the hits, clubbers tend to reward even shabbier, trend-riding producers with their presence on the dance floor. Sometimes this provokes ire in producers at the front of the pack (eg. Dan Bell’s frustration over Josh Wink’s “Phreak”-biting “Superfreak (Freak)”), other times successful mimicry means new record deals (eg. much of Cadenza’s roster in 2009). Yet the inevitability of copycats doesn’t mean they should be let off the hook, especially in more egregious instances of plagiarism. Rodriguez Jr.’s “Kids of Hula” is one such case.

As LWE first noted in a recent TwitteReview, “Kids of Hula” sounds like a montage of popular songs Oliver Mateu (one half of The Youngsters and known these days as Rodriguez Jr.) wished he had written from the last five years. Its insistent marimba percussion is merely a dime a dozen, but things take a fishy turn as a fluttering roll wooshes in, sounding remarkably similar to a motif in “Tia Anita” by Dani Casarano & Felipe Valenzuela. Trying not to jump to the conclusions, I let the record play out a bit more as a rambunctious and insistent synth zig-zags its way into my brain, repeatedly bumping into memories of an uncannily similar riff from years past. Quickly flicking through my records and trying a few YouTube searches, I found the source material — the reason “Kids of Hula” existed: It was lifted nearly note-for-note from Loco Dice’s 2006 smash hit, “Seeing Through Shadows.” Emulating a source of inspiration is one thing, but it seemed Mateu had gone much further in his plundering, thereby overshadowing the actually decent B side, “Pandora.”

What makes this all the more pathetic? It’s not the first time he’s been caught borrowing generously — from “Seeing Through Shadows,” no less. The B side of Mateu’s Leena debut, “Soledad,” reached for the same clever riff, a fact noted in an earlier LWE review. What makes Mateu think it’s OK to steal another track’s hook, let alone twice? Does he even realize what he’s doing? Even more, why was Leena’s parent label, Mobilee, ready to get behind two flagrant instances of plagiarism? Do Loco Dice and his production partner, Martin Buttrich, care that their ingenuity has been pilfered for two lesser releases? (They practically deserve royalties.) Until Mateu or someone at Mobilee answers these unpleasant questions it will be difficult at best to take him seriously as a producer.

William  on September 8, 2009 at 2:53 AM

far out!

quite the resemblance there

unfunk  on September 8, 2009 at 8:15 AM

Mobilee just doesn’t care. They just started to copy their own tracks 😉
see: Russ Gabriel – React (Mobilee 2009) vs Russ Gabriel – Parsec (Leena 2009)

sq  on September 8, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Not the first time Youngsters have done this…see Third Knife and Luciano – Orange Mistake

Joe H  on September 8, 2009 at 10:04 AM

This guy has blatantly “bit” bars from ‘Seeing Through Shadows’. It just sounds tacky & like it took an hour to make, (or should that be steal). There’s far, far, more better unsigned tracks from decent artists out there that deserve to be signed rather than this tripe. Good on LWE for sticking it too Mateu!

Per Silverbeat  on September 8, 2009 at 1:37 PM


Sam  on September 8, 2009 at 2:04 PM

Not to play devils advocate here, but just a reminder that dance music in general (house, hip-hop in particular) has always been about appropriating and in many cases blatantly ripping off ideas and sounds. In some sense this is what the music is actually *about*, and it’s how many of the sub-genres actually got started in the first place (producers copying an innovative song\style and splintering off in a new direction). The list of “classic” tracks that have blatantly ripped-off or in many cases just lifted entire sections of other songs is very long indeed (and I’m sure you can think of several off the top of your head). I’m not saying that this track is a particularly good example of that, but it’s good to remember that “appropriating” has always been a healthy part of innovation in dance (and hip-hop) music, and without it we wouldn’t have any of this stuff today.

Having said that I actually quite like the above track – but maybe that’s because I’m relatively unfamiliar with the “source” material…

Joe H  on September 8, 2009 at 2:49 PM

@ Sam, that maybe so but the majority of producers who sample or “borrow” make about 100% more effort to disguise this fact, and the better, more established producers sometimes use samples & you dont even realise that they used any until a quick scan at Discogs clears things up. This is just a really bad & cheaply made track from a guy who thinks he can take what isn’t his work, & make money of it, which he is doing.

Sam  on September 8, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Joe H,

Like I said, I don’t think this track is a very good example of “appropriation” (so in this case I’m in agreement with you for the most part), and I don’t know anything about this particular producer, so will not comment about their work – BUT there are many, many cases of outright and blatant (totally undisguised) “lifting” of material that I’d argue have yielded great results and gone on to become genre changing moments – Take for example this:

Manuel Göttsching’s “E2-E4”, blatantly lifted by Sueño Latino in 1989, goes on to be a huge hit, introducing house music to many who had never heard it before. And I personally love both versions. This is just one example of many that I could list, but my point is that we shouldn’t get too bent out of shape regarding appropriation – I’d argue that it has been an integral part of dance music culture from the get go.

Joe H  on September 8, 2009 at 4:55 PM

I agree about not getting bent out of shape in relation to general sampling, as its a everyday part of electronic music, especially house & techno. It’s just that this particular artists sampling is really bad. Sueño Latino is a great example of how to sample, as is this.

James  on September 8, 2009 at 6:24 PM

The Sueno Latino example isn’t all that relevant here. Cross-genre sampling (of a classic or a dusty) is usually considered fair play if only because there tends to be a bit more invention at work. Inter-genre cannibalization of relatively newer tracks doesn’t smell right.

Sam  on September 8, 2009 at 7:46 PM

@ James – While I agree that there does seem to be an unwritten “rule” when it comes to sampling, i.e. “Inter-genre cannibalization”, my example of Sueno was in response to previous posts (and the review) having issue with ‘bitting’ entire sections of another composition (which Sueno does). Further (and not to split hairs, but…), E2-E4 was a Balearic staple (and not that old) when Sueno appropriated it and aimed it right back at the same Balearic audience that had probably “raved” to the original. From there it blew up and went pop. My take on appropriation (sampling, remixing, mash-ups) has always been that the ends justify the means. If a track is good then i don’t really care if it’s been ripped off and repackaged – I’m still gonna’ like it (sacrilege, I know…) – this is what the reviewer alluded to in his text (“clubbers tend to reward even shabbier, trend-riding producers with their presence on the dance floor”). I personally think (to some degree anyway) that this is what makes dance music\culture interesting – the lack of the “rock-ist” (for lack of a better word) infatuation with “craft” and “authenticity”. Last & not least, I gotta’ say that there are plenty of very valid (and now classic) examples of “inter-genre cannibalization” – this just doesn’t seem to be one of them (although as I said before – i still kinda’ like the track – sorry!).

m@earth  on September 9, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Meh. Rich territory this artists taking or mining riffs and ideas from other artists. Ken Ishii and Carl Craig while remixing Dave Angel have had a similar run in. Listen to the C2 mix of “Take Off” and dust off your copy of Utu and play “Hall of Mirrors”. Actually. Just put that Utu in your crate and wail it sometime. Thing bangs. They both have a remarkably similar progression.
Beltrams Energy Flash from way back turned up as Tone Exploitation by The Nighttripper. Some people wonder about who’s copying who with Red Planet and Escape (fax records) who both released tracks within mere months of each other using the same sample material.

littlewhiteearbuds  on September 9, 2009 at 4:13 PM

The only recent-ish occasion I can recall wherein a producer has wholesale appropriated another track and not made a hash of it is the Mountain People records. Based on “Break Night” by The Mole People, they managed to modify the ascending riff just enough to give it a fresh feel. However, they’ve since moved on to different patterns, which I find essential to running a sustainable label.

Getropic  on September 10, 2009 at 5:24 AM

Check Italoboyz- Frosted on Safari Electronique and Glimpse- 100% Shiraz on Glimpse 80% black. They both used the same preset chords + hooks and were released the same month in 2006!

peder  on September 10, 2009 at 12:09 PM

a similar thing happened with patrick chardronnet’s “eve by day” and oxia’s “domino” a couple of years back. connaisseur emailed kompakt pointing out the similarities between the two tracks, and wolfgang voigt did the honourable thing by personally apologising, stating that he hadn’t previously heard “eve by day”. understandable, but in this case it seems unbelievably unlikely that neither label heads nor producer have heard “seeing through shadows” given both its ubiquity and the proximity of the two labels (mobilee and m_nus)…

jim  on September 11, 2009 at 5:18 AM

Check out and compare Mr Fingers – Stars (1987), Red Planet – Stardancer (1993), and Richard Brown – Flange-o-matic (1994)….

harpomarx42  on September 13, 2009 at 6:13 PM

Surprised the topic of Shlomi Aber hasn’t been breached. Or is all that just old hat now?

littlewhiteearbuds  on September 13, 2009 at 9:47 PM

I forgot all about that, but that’s actually one of the better cases of a producer confronting copycats. Here’s another:

Rozzo finds out “Muskatnuss” by Butch samples “Mountain003,” let’s it go after some choice words (in German).

Getropic  on September 14, 2009 at 3:46 AM

What’s that about Shlomi Aber then? Such a good gossip thread…

harpomarx42  on September 14, 2009 at 12:17 PM

@Getropic: Long story short, a fan called out Shlomi Aber’s track “Efrat” as being stolen from Aril Brikha’s “Groove La Chord”.

antiplastik  on October 8, 2013 at 9:42 AM

I like both tracks :) Greez&Beatz Stay tuned suckers

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