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A Sample Breakdown of Murs & Dee-1's 'He's The Christian, I'm The Rapper'

A Sample Breakdown of Murs & Dee-1's 'He's The Christian, I'm The Rapper'

The album cover portrays rappers Murs & Dee-1 inspired by 'He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper' by Will Smith & Jazzy Jeff. But there's a third key figure for this release: Curtiss King, who skillfully produced the entire album using Tracklib samples in nine of the eleven tracks. Let's break them down: primarily soul artists also sampled by Swizz Beatz, Madlib, Beastie Boys, J Dilla, Wu-Tang Clan & more.

By Tracklib

'He's The Christian, I'm The Rapper' was actually supposed to be a collaborative EP by emcees Murs and Dee-1, produced by Curtiss King. But the undeniable chemistry between the three turned the collaboration into a full-fledged album. The possibility to freely select samples and work with fully cleared material, also played a part in them going all-in for a bigger project.

“Curtiss has already been such a master at his craft, so the ability to pick samples without worry made the dynamic even better,” says Murs. “In the case of indie artists, we already wear multiple hats. So to be able to worry about one less thing really just enriched the creative process. I think a lot of artists are taught that sampling is a negative aspect of production. But with the liberty of something like Tracklib, they can explore creativity without constantly feeling like they are bound by risk or repercussions.”

Click here to stream the album, so you can follow along in the Sample Breakdown!

1. No Pictures of Jesus

“When I first heard ‘I Don’t Want To Die’ by Black Merda I got goosebumps so intense that it made me tear up,” producer Curtiss King told Tracklib last year. The psychedelic sample of the “First Black Rock Group” laid the foundation of the first official single for this full-length Curtiss King-produced collaboration.

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3:52

2. They Don't Want Me to Win

In Curtiss King’s video breakdown, he explains that the era between 1961 and 1975 is his "sweet spot" for browsing Tracklib. No wonder that those golden years are well-represented throughout He’s The Christian, I’m The Rapper. With this particular 2-bar loop of a 1970s seven-piece soul/funk outfit found using the Tracklib Loops function, as previously shared by Curtiss King.

3. 2 Dark Skin, 2 Light Skin

The sample pick for “2 Dark Skin, 2 Light Skin” perfectly illustrates why Curtiss King fully immersed himself in the 60s and 70s time span. "Initially I said, I want to get back in my soul sample bag,” he says in the video. “Stuff from the 60s and 70s with a lot of open space. Not heavy percussion and drums because—of course—I want to add that as a producer." Enter “She’s My Woman” By Beau Williams a.k.a. Bobo Mr. Soul: a whole lotta heartfelt soul and a whole lotta space for Curtiss King to go all-out with his thumping kicks and rattling drum patterns.

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3:36

4. How Great

As a pianist, Billy Preston worked together with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Sly Stone, and The Beatles, earning him the title of “The Fifth Beatle.” His music has been sampled before by Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys, J Dilla & Kanye West, and now his psyched-out live organ session “How Great Thou Art” was flipped for Murs and Dee-1 to preach about “how great” God is to them, after an intro by Horace C. Bowers.

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3:48

5. Hallelujah

A quote from a priest reciting Psalm 139 which this track is named after is followed by Murs, Dee-1, and a guest appearance by Krizz Kaliko rapping about being blessed and showing praise.

6. Halftime

Halfway through the album, the interlude track “Halftime” offers a moment to reflect on life as we know it today. One dominated by technology, social media, individualism, and the struggles that come with it. "What does it say about us that we rather bask in pain, than let positivity reign?" A thought-provoking monologue by Justin Hunte a.k.a. The Company Man, to lead in more tough questions:

He's The Christian, I'm The Rapper
He's The Christian, I'm The Rapper

"With the liberty of something like Tracklib, [indie artists] can explore creativity without constantly feeling like they are bound by risk or repercussions.”

—Murs

7. Tough Questions

“Tough Questions” is the only track on He’s The Christian, I’m The Rapper with a sample outside of Curtiss King’s favorite decade for digging and sampling: this time it’s early 50s jazz by the Lonnie Simmons Quartet. A beat with loops of the slow organ and xylophone serves as the backdrop for a conversation between the two rappers: Murs shares worries and tough questions he struggles with as a Christian himself. Answered with a more positive and uplifting take by Dee-1.

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2:27

8. Show Her

Curtiss King flipped three different parts from soul track “Lord Send Me Somebody” by The Green Berets, taken from their debut 45 on UNI Records. A label founded in the 60s which was also home to artists such as Ethio-Jazz icon Hugh Masekela all the way to Neil Diamond and Elton John. The track was produced by R&B musician Andre ‘Mr. Rhythm’ Williams, whose music is also well-represented on Tracklib.

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3:42

9. Get Blue

With Willie Tee’s “She Really Did Surprise Me,” Curtiss King selected another 60s soul gem from the vast Tuff City archives. Willie Tee was also part of 70s funk band The Gaturs out of New Orleans. His music and that of his band have been sampled by Madlib (for “Supplier” off Piñata with Freddie Gibbs), 3rd Bass, Puff Daddy, MC Eiht, 2 Chainz & others. Somebody needs to call Exile to let him know about the sample Curtiss King found, though...

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2:57

10. Hard Work

A classic soul flip using “Mystery Of Love” by 70s Chicago soul group The Class-Sets, whose track “Julie” was sampled for J. Cole’s “The Autograph” off his Friday Night Lights mixtape.

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6:51

11. Free Mac Outro

He’s The Christian, I’m The Rapper ends with Murs and Dee-1 going back and forth between a conversation and freestyling for 9 minutes. It gives some insight on how this collaborative release came to life, shares random anecdotes, and clearly shows the chemistry between the two of them. Something which Curtiss King also touches upon in his video: “Seeing their synergy... You can really tell that Murs being a veteran, being an OG, he understands how important chemistry is. (...) Everything we do, eat, drink - whatever we do in the studio has an effect energetically on the music. So seeing them interact over here [in the studio], made it a really cohesive project."

The loop in the background is taken from “I Don’t Want To Play Around” by New York vocal group Ace Spectrum, sampled almost a decade ago by Swizz Beatz for “Fancy” by Drake featuring T.I. off Thank Me Later.

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7:34

If you enjoy the way Curtiss King chops up Tracklib samples: check-out Season One of CHOPaganda!


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