White Label Friday: De La Soul, “Say No Go (Say No Dope Mix)”

Written by Music, White Label

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For a genre that makes its living by cutting up other people’s records, hip-hop artists are notoriously touchy about other people touching theirs. Eric B. and Rakim reportedly hated Coldcut’s remix of their song “Paid in Full,” despite the fact that the Coldcut mix became a crossover smash and scored the rap duo major airplay in the otherwise lily-white modern rock clubs. Your typical rap 12” single in the late ‘80s consisted of the LP version, an instrumental version, and a B-side. That’s it. Rappers were perfectly happy to remix someone else’s song – or add a rhyme or two for a small fee, like Eric B. & Rakim did to Jody Watley’s “Friends” – but granting access to their master tracks? You must be trippin’.

Luckily for us, in more ways than one, De La Soul is not your typical hip-hop band. They embraced the 12” single, issuing a ton of remixes, alternate versions and B-sides. It stands to reason that signing to the remix-happy Tommy Boy Records – whose vaults will be raided at least two more times in the near future – played a major role in this decision, though one suspects that the band would have gone this route regardless. Further nailing the remix point home, De La didn’t give up their anti-drug rant “Say No Go” (download) to just anyone; the song was remixed by C.J. MacIntosh and Dave Dorrell, the duo who got a hold of a certain dovetailing white-label single called “Pump Up the Volume,” added some samples and scratching, and turned it into a worldwide smash. Learn those names: you’ll see them frequently enough that you’ll suspect that they’re paying me to talk about them. They’re not, of course, but if they’re looking for a little extra ink, I take PayPal.

MacIntosh and Dorrell’s mix of “Say No Go” is indicative of their style at the time; the horns are nice and echo-y, and you can practically see them chomping at the bit to scratch the shit out of the Daryl Hall vocal snippet that gives the song its title. (Seriously, what was Simply Red thinking when they tried to write a song around the same sample 15 years later?) They also have some fun with the faux-scream snippet from the disco classic “Best of My Love,” even spinning it backwards Art of Noise-style. The rest of the mix is remarkably respectful of the original. It has a slow build-up in the intro, a slow breakdown in the outro, and treats everything in between with an eye for the dance floor and an ear for the fan.

That whole pay-respect-to-the-original-song thing would begin its slow death the following year, and one of the first mixes to take out a brick in the wall would be by…C.J. MacIntosh and Dave Dorrell. Thank goodness they didn’t start that trend here.