Throughout the history of rap music the art of sampling has pretty much always remained constant. The act of using elements from other songs, such as melodies or chords, can help to make a rap track that much better. If you look down a list of some of the greatest producers of all time they tend to all have a knack for being able to sample well and refresh it into something that is a totally different vibe.
Certain artists just mesh well to this style as well. Notable examples include Kanye West, Rick Ross and more on a national level, but even in Mississippi a fine example can be found in rising MC Willie D. Tha Kang. Willie D. has been steadily promoting his “Free Sample” album which takes the idea of sampling to a different height. Thematically he uses his production style of choice to craft a concept project, even if it kind of happened on accident.
I love samples. I mean who doesn’t but I’m always digging & diving looking for some fire from old songs or newer unconventional tracks that don’t always pertain to Hip-Hop. All the tracks were placed on “Free Sample” intently but the album was not was not conceived purposely per-say. I had a whole different direction I wanted to go then I saw that I had hella samples in my catalog, so I was like I’ll put together a whole project dedicated to my love/appreciation for samples. – Willie D. Tha Kang
This definitely rings true as the first words we hear on the project come from Aerosmith’s “Jaded”, which proceeds Willie D’s song of the same title. On it he lets it be known immediately that he has a player persona and is in no way afraid to let it show. He pens a song that aims at one particular chick, and how jaded she is in her thoughts about him. I would really like to know exactly how she felt the first time she heard this track because its very specific in addressing whoever the target is. No room for interpretation.
Dolla Black and his baritone vocals join Willie D. Tha Kang on “Speak”. A soulful sample drives the production as we get more of the player persona, with less aggression, from him. The hook in particular stands out to me as being pretty catchy and carrying a feel-good vibe about it. As usual Dolla turns in a strong feature to help round the track out.
“Manditory” is next up and I must admit it had me head-nodding from the start. The production samples Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”, flipping into a bass heavy track I could see getting some club play. Here we get to hear a tale of a particular female that has habit of “smashing the homies”, if I can borrow the quote from Ray J. Things get a bit vulgar towards the end so be sure to cover the kid’s ears when this one plays lol.
The tone shifts as we approach “Heart Divided” with us getting to see a bit more of a different side of Willie D Tha Kang. Ricky Rich handles production and borrows from Aaliyah’s “I Don’t Wanna”. On this he still maintains his pimp status but does so in a less abrasive manner. He talks about his likeness for all of the “players on his team”, if you know what I mean, and how one stands out as a favorite of his.
The vibes continue on with “Intoxicated”, another one helmed by Ricky Rich. Here he continues a bit of the theme from the previous song with a more laid-back sound. Willie D. Tha Kang expounds on how his muse can have an intoxicating effect on him whenever they are around each other. An interpolation of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” helps to make the song even more catchy, as with most of the samples chosen for the album.
We get one of the more soulful selections both in terms of sound and feeling on “Creye”. Here Willie D. Tha Kang kicks things off with some of the better storytelling you will hear from him. I won’t ruin everything that is said here but it is a record that is rooted in regret. On an album where Willie D. does not always showcase a sense of vulnerability this single was a great change of pace that was needed on “Free Sample”. It seems to have come from a very sincere place.
“Bullyts” follows and is one of the favorites of mine, particularly for it’s use of Foster The Children’s “Pumped Up Kicks”. That song has always been a personal favorite of mine and I like the approach with which Willie D. Tha Kang comes lyrically is well put together. On it we get some of the MC’s storytelling abilities again, focusing on his own perspective and that of another person’s while keeping the theme around guns and of course bullets. In my opinion it’s one of the better songs featured on “Free Sample”. His monologue on the end was very insightful as well, helping us to understand his thought process a little better.
We reach the middle of the 14-track album as the King Supreme-assisted “Slow Down” gets its spin. This song carries a certain vibe of exhaustion, if that makes sense. Sometimes an artist can use a song to vent and that’s just what both of them do here – clear their minds of what’s in their hearts and minds. Willie D. Tha Kang and King Supreme exhibit a clear chemistry as they let off some steam in the booth with lyrics that address a wide array of topics.
Though Willie D. makes an effort to show us his versatility, he is in no way neglectful in showing his street side once again “Out On The Street”. Over a Bruce Springsteen sample our musical host tells of the depths that can come from life in the streets. It’s a life that can have it’s obstacles and he addresses some of them from multiple perspectives.
We take a trip back to the world that is college life on “Letterz”. Now I’m not sure if he is talking to one young lady in particular here but it certainly seems that way as he is direct in his approach. The song revolves around the concept of sorority life and how attaining those “letterz” can cause people to have a skewed judgement of themselves. Willie D. channels his inner-Pimp C on this song bringing back memories of the UGK sound.
One of Jay-Z’s lines that are a favorite of mine is “I figured frauds never hit a lick before, so they don’t know the feeling when them thangs get across.” Waiting on a package that could determine both your legal status and the amount of money in your package can believably be quite stressful. Such is the case for Willie D. Tha Kang and Killa B on “Pray”. Here they take a creative route in writing, not telling you exactly what’s in the “pack”, but instead giving it a certain personification that allows you to deduct that conclusion on your own.
“Love My City” acts as Willie D. Tha Kang’s ode to his hometown. Jackson, Mississippi is a unique place and he helps to embody the feeling it can bring to those who love the Magnolia State’s capitol here. The city gets it’s fair share of negative press and bad talk, so to hear the city presented in such a proud light is a great change of pace.
We reach the last official track of “Free Sample” with Willie D.’s “Gtg Freestyle”. This is probably the most lax we hear the MC on the entire album. Willie D. Tha Kang has a knack for sticking to a specific topic on a record which I admire, but to hear him just bring some bars and punchlines with no particular direction was a refreshing way to end it. On an album full of amazing samples this one of Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” may have been the best one.
Willie D. Tha Kang includes one bonus track before closing things out completely. Entitled “Somebody’s Girl”, the song is one that I could honestly see getting radio play. The light production and a melodic hook from Van Cle makes it an easy listen. Plus the subject matter of pulling a chick in the club is one that is pretty universally relatable. That being said I can understand why he put it as a bonus track instead of the actual track listing as it does not necessarily fit in with the overall sound established on the album.
After spending my time with “Free Sample” I must say I came away thoroughly impressed. The beats selected for the project and the overall attention to detail that was put forth shows that Willie D. Tha Kang truly took time and thought everything out. Keeping with the theme of samples is a plus for me as the right sample always adds a level of familiarity and replay value to a song. Though I don’t have any clear flaws to point out my biggest critique would be for Willie D. to continue to strive and improve his pen. Though he proves to be a very capable rapper, there are some times where I feel verses could have been stronger with added patterns of alliteration, stronger punchlines and different flows. In the end though, I would still recommend “Free Sample” to anyone out there who places an emphasis on production and charisma in an artist.
Find Willie D. Tha Kang on all social media at @WillieDThaKang