A new 45 by Amsterdam-based keyboardist, DJ & producer Soul Supreme pays homage to Madvillain, his all-time favorite hip-hop mavericks. With a rework of a 70s jazz-funk gem by Cortex on the other side. Read the Bandcamp liner notes at the bottom of this feature.
While the music was already being pressed on vinyl, reality caught up with the release: the devastating news of MF DOOM’s passing turned this 45 into an unintended posthumous tribute of sorts. “I have a bittersweet feeling to announce this 45 now,” says Soul Supreme. “It’s weird how things unfolded. RIP MF DOOM, truly one of the greatest to ever do it. No one comes close to his flows and rhyme patterns.”
“I have to admit, I kinda took my rework of ‘Raid’ too far,” grins Soul Supreme. As for his previous 45s (revamping the music of Mos Def, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, and A Tribe Called Quest), he strives to enrich music, not replay it. “I just wanted to preserve the dark feeling and main melodies of the track. But aside from that, I wanted to stay away from doing a ‘hip-hop cover.’ I figured if Madlib took something and manipulated it, that on my turn, I could take and manipulate that in my own way.”
And so he did: spaced-out keys to evoke the same feeling as the Bill Evans-sampling intro. Off-kilter drums by Jamie Peet who was challenged with rhythmic switches based on ‘America Latina’ by Osmar Milito & Quarteto Forma (“Even with odd timings, Jamie knows how to add groove”). Added instrumentation by Glenn Gaddum Jr. (bass), Niklouds Holler (saxophone) & Valentin Guenther (trombone). And, of course, playing the keys himself. Getting free-form like a DOOM flow.
Bandcamp Liner Notes
After writing the liner notes for Soul Supreme’s first LP release back in October, it was a pleasure to dive deeper into his work again. Read the full text below, as published on the Bandcamp page for the 45:
Each time I visited Soul Supreme at home, a stone’s throw away from where I live, a framed print of MF DOOM’s mask on top of his record shelf grabbed my attention. Staring down at us with a piercing and intimidating dark look. Madvillain-style. Last time I stopped by, in early January, that art print (illustrated by Dase Boogie about seven years ago) all of a sudden evoked something else.
The ‘Huit Octobre 1971’ / ‘Raid’ 45 record we were about to discuss was in the making since mid-October. But the news of MF DOOM’s passing at the turn of 2020, made it a bittersweet release to talk about. There we were, instead of just geeking out over the Madlib production, DOOM’s buttery flow, or the sampling of Bill Evans, George Clinton, and “América Latina,” we had another thing to talk about: the last act of Daniel Dumile’s 23 years of metal-faced hip-hop magic.
For Dumile, the post-Zev Love X alter ego and metal mask were ways to put people’s focus on the music, not the person behind it. To counter a trend in hip-hop of—in his words during Red Bull Music Academy 2011—”what things look like as opposed to what they sound like.” Hip-hop’s metal-faced anti-hero, born right on time to “end the reign of the jiggy MC.”
In his own way, Soul Supreme also cuts the ego when it comes to making music. “I’m not a speak-artist, I’m a musician,” he says. “I love how MF DOOM had attitude and character. There’s real emotion in his work, including his choice of samples. But at the same time, he puts music completely on the forefront by hiding his own identity. That’s what the mask also represents to me. It’s a note to self to only care about the music.”
While talking about the ‘Nardis’ sample in the intro of Madvillain’s ‘Raid,’ a famous Bill Evans quote comes to mind for him. ‘It goes: ‘Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that all I must do is take care of the music. Even if I do it in a closet. And if I really do that, somebody’s going to come and open the door of the closet and say, ‘Hey, we’re looking for you.’’ That’s it. That’s Soul Supreme. Always putting keys over clout, and soul over ego. With MF DOOM’s mask still staring down on him, as present as ever.