From the late eighties to mid-nineties it wasn’t uncommon for emcees to spend a couple of record grooves to share their big up’s and rock on’s. The 90s brought some well-crafted shout-out tracks—Brand Nubian’s Dedication, to name one—but other than that it was mostly filler no killer. No wonder shout-out tracks quietly died down; it is now a thing of the past. But not before Jay Dee revamped it in 2003 with “Shouts (Alt)”, closing his Ruff Draft album.
The groundwork for the heavy-hitting beat dates back to 1967: drums by Barry Jenkins, who was part of Eric Burdon & the Animals. The drum pattern is based on the track “Man – Woman” off their first album, Winds of Change, one year after the original band The Animals decided to call it quits.
While the band shifted towards a more psychedelic approach with Winds Of Change—part of the album was often labelled by critics as ‘overly pretentious’—it was drummer Barry Jenkins who played an important role: his steady rhythms were the glue holding together the most daring tracks on the album, which was well-needed to keep the reverb, exotic instrumentation and Burdon’s acid-fueled mumbo jumbo grounded.
Case in point: “Man – Woman”, a spoken word piece about a man who cheats on his wife. Bongos, bells, electric guitar, voice effects—the whole shebang. In this, Jenkins’ tight break-like drumming is the only structured element.
Dilla follows that very same drum beat for “Shouts (Alt)”, which is the follow-up to the album’s short “Shouts” interlude. A sample of Burdon saying “Baby” can also be heard throughout the track, like a subtle big-up to the distinctive lead singer. Because isn’t a sample in a way a producer’s shout-out by itself? Eric Burdon, rock on. Barry J, rock on. Jay Dee, rock, rock on…