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$NOT's Real Talk Over a Philly Soul Sample

$NOT's Real Talk Over a Philly Soul Sample

On ‘Can You Help Me,’ $NOT speaks out on police violence, with a calm flow full of ease. The Florida rapper—who even found his way to getting a co-sign from Billie Eilish—sampled the lead vocals from a Philly Groove song; previously unreleased till the original stems hit Tracklib.

By Tracklib
Header photo: Tamara May


In most of his photos, $NOT is portrayed with a hoodie tightly wrapped around his head. Seemingly hiding from what’s happening around him, showing signs of an introverted personality. “I just be chilling, you feel me?,” he told Complex in an introductory interview last year, “I can be quiet—if you talk to me then yeah, I’ll talk—but sometimes I don’t have anything to say. I didn’t know it all was going to happen to this extent, and it hasn’t really set in yet. I’m actually really excited, but you can see my facial expression and think I’m nonchalant.”

The beat with a vocal sample of Flashlight’s ‘Every Little Beat of My Heart.’ was produced by go-to collaborator Marvy Ayy. “Can You Help Me” was actually the very first time the New York-based producer used sampling. “Tracklib took my sampling virginity,” says Marvy. “The fact that this was my first time and it worked so smoothly speaks volumes! I think [Tracklib] will simplify and streamline the clearance process which nowadays is the main deterrent against sampling, from a producer's point of view.”

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"I think [Tracklib] will simplify and streamline the clearance process which nowadays is the main deterrent against sampling, from a producer's point of view."

—Marvy Ayy

On the track, $NOT paints a clear picture of police violence, ethnic profiling, and unequal treatments. In contrast, the beat sounds fairly peaceful and low-key. Marvy: “I knew $not liked ‘Lo-Fi’ sounds, so I was teaching myself how to do that manually. Like downgrading bit depth, reducing sample rate, physically altering audio fidelity... Quarantine had me going down strange rabbit holes. That's why the instrumental—even without the sample— sounds old and dusty. From there, the icing on the cake was a soul sample. That vibrato... It makes you feel like you're in love.”

$NOT delivers a strong message in a modest manner on “Can You Help Me.” Probably tightening his hoodie strings some more, to remain at ease for a message which is the hard opposite of modest and easy-going. The way the sample was used and chopped, contributes to that bittersweet sentiment. “I actually did a lot of manual tuning of the sample, because the original song is in a major key and my instrumental is minor key,” explains Marvy. “I think that influenced the extremely bittersweet message in $not's performance. I also did a lot of cutting and splicing of the source material, because I wanted to create an entirely new phrase.”

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