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X-files Of Hip-hop

Sample Library By Paul Farrer
Published February 1999

E‑Lab are a sound design company from Sweden who, for the last few years, have had their creative fingers firmly on the pulse of popular sampling music trends. As the woefully cheesy title implies, X‑Files of Hip‑Hop follows on in similar fashion from other sample CDs in the X‑Files of... range. Had the Nordic sample masters launched this series of discs more recently, perhaps I would now be reviewing the South Park, or heaven forbid the Ally McBeal of hip‑hop!

This 99‑track Audio CD starts with the familiar 'sampling by numbers' section where you get a handful of short 'Demos' featuring drums, bass, keyboards and so on, then get all the bits on their own to sample and put back together exactly as you found them. The idea being, of course, that somewhere along the way you will have been so inspired by doing this that new and wonderful musical ideas will spring to mind and the track you end up with will be somehow all your own work. A premise that even Fox Mulder would find hard to swallow. Luckily this section doesn't last too long, and by track 11 it's straight on to the 'Master Cuts'. Streetwise, laid‑back and funky is the order of the day here, and the collection of drum loops and musical grooves covers a fabulously wide range of stylistic ground. Whether you are a Beastie Boy or a Fun Lovin' Criminal, the sheer amount of usable material supplied here will keep you and your sampler busy for ages, I guarantee it. As well as trying to break some new ground as far as rhythm and sound is concerned, X‑Files also manages to tip its sonic hat in the direction of hip‑hop's roots with a few wonderfully authentic Motown and Soul flavours thrown in for good measure.

As you might expect for hip‑hop, the loops hover around the 90‑100bpm mark, but one of the most pleasing and usable things about this release is the large amount of extra sound data that you get for your money. Scattered in amongst the rather erratic running order you can find long orchestral phrases, horn hits, operatic vocal snatches, Rhodes grooves, wah‑wah guitars, double bass licks and countless other perfect little bites of sound that add that ironic depth to any contemporary hip‑hop track. Tucked away at the end you'll find a massive collection of individual drum sounds as well as some highly usable vinyl scratches, and some great 'Ambience' tracks featuring some interesting sound effects. All in all, X‑Files of Hip Hop manages the double whammy of accessibility with sampling staying power. There are loads of straight drum loops and demo grooves for those looking for instant gratification, but for those willing to scratch beneath the surface, roll their sampling sleeves up and get busy the rewards will be huge. On the down side, the running order and sleeve notes could have been a little better thought out, and at times you wish that the producers had tried a little harder to say something blindingly new sound‑wise. As it stands, though, X‑Files is very close to a one‑stop shop; it has almost everything you could need, and in the value for money stakes this is one release that packs a serious punch. Paul Farrer