Live In-Studio Beat Creation and DIY Music Videos

How producers are showing their creative visual flair during the #RunToFlipChallenge.

When I posted my first Micro-Chop sample challenge on Sunday, November 15th, I had pretty modest expectations. The #SwinginFlipChallenge took off in ways I could have never imagined, with producers all over the world crafting amazing beats out of Mint Condition’s “U Send Me Swingin’” and sharing their work with innovative videos to go with the music.

Check out this offering from Nelac The Beat Ninja as an example.

To my surprise people started asking for another sample challenge as soon as the first one started to wind down, so I announced the #RunToFlipChallenge on Monday, November 23rd, with The Jones Girls “Who Can I Run To” as the chosen sample source.

As soon as I posted it, entries started to pour in. The more I looked at and listened to people’s work, the more I was blown away by the incredibly inventive use of videos as a compliment to each instrumental. Not only are so many #RunToFlipChallenge participants talented producers, they also have a keen sense of to fit visuals and music together.

Baltimore’s eu-IV used a striking anime segment to go with his phenomenal #RunToFlipChallenge instrumental, giving the beat an added accent that makes for the perfect viewing experience. As the music picks up an added level of somber intensity around the 45-second mark, the visuals also grow increasingly climactic.

For his masterful take on the Jones Girls sample, Los Angeles producer Duke Westlake used a trippy music video that seems familiar but I can’t quite identify. It features a businessman running through various locales and past people in animal suits. The video gives an already amazing beat an added bit of punch.

For the #SwinginFlipChallenge Raleigh, North Carolina producer Professor X turned heads with his use of home video-style roller skating footage coupled with a tight “Ms. Fat Booty” remix. For the #RunToFlipChallenge he made a meticulous remix of Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down” and paired it with vintage concert footage of her, successfully breathing new life into a nostalgic musical moment.

Speaking of powerful nostalgia, Brooklyn’s Brown Jewel used vintage footage of the late sports legend, multi-gold medal winner, and all-time fastest woman Flo-Jo to compliment her gorgeous #RunToFlipChallenge instrumental. The 45-second video serves as a moving tribute and an engrossing musical moment.

Seattle, Washington’s deelovesamy also used powerful nostalgia to go with his instrumental. Pairing his calming, mellow beat with washed out home video visuals gives it some nice additional texture and emotion.

I’ve long been a fan of Philly native Raggedy Jeans and the #RunToFlipChallenge entry she crafted with her Koala Sampler did not disappoint. With a totally unique swing and texture, she used crunchy percussion as a perfect accent to her distinct vocal flips. The Koala Sampler visual gives her presentation just the right added touch.

Several producers also took to IGTV and Instagram Live to show how they made their #RunToFlipChallenge beats from scratch. Controllerise member and Atlanta resident Leem Lizzy dedicated an entire hour-long episode on IGTV to making his instrumental from scratch. In addition to cooking up a crazy beat, he also dropped scores of gems about production and his creative process.

A post shared by Salim Abu Zahra (@leemlizzy)

São Paulo, Brazil-based rapper, producer, and professional skateboarder Kamau took to IG Live and IGTV for an extended period of time to show viewers how he cooked up an excellent beat through the use of heavy sample micro-chopping.

A post shared by KAMAU (@kamau_)

As he worked through the sample, he also took to Twitter to show his work in progress. Even though it seems like he’s still working on the track, what he has so far is really impressive.

From long-form videos to shorter ones, the creative visuals continue to impress me. Pekin, Indiana producer J-Ideas, who turned a lot of heads for the first sample challenge, used a humorous Forrest Gump GIF to enhance his ultra smooth #RunToFlipChallenge instrumental.

And Toledo, Ohio production duo The Beetz demonstrated their impeccable sample flipping and neck-snapping baselines on their entry to the challenge. Furthering the power of their production, they added a short, dark, and intense video loop to accent the instrumental.

The #RunToFlipChallenge is still going strong, so if you’re a producer make sure to tap in if you’re feeling inspired by all these amazing beats and videos. Learn more about the challenge here.

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A quick breakdown of the rules for the second Micro-Chop sample challenge.

The first Micro-Chop sample challenge inspired by Mint Condition’s “U Send Me Swingin’” was a big hit. Several people have already asked about a follow-up challenge, so here we go.

For the second flip challenge I’ve selected “Who Can I Run To” from The Jones Girls’ 1979 self-titled debut album. Here are some quick links to the song on various platforms: Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube.

There are no strict parameters for how to rework the song, it’s all up to you.

You can share your flip of the song on Instagram and Twitter by using the hashtag #RunToFlipChallenge (also make sure to @micro_chop). I strongly encourage everyone to post their flip on Twitter as that is the main platform I use. The best engagement seems to happen when people attach a video of their flip directly to the tweet.

Here’s an example from Nothing_Neue’s submission to the #SwinginFlipChallenge.

I will still retweet some of the flips but I probably won’t retweet all of them—I’m looking to collect and share the beats in a way that’s more deliberate and easy to follow. I have a few ideas for how I’ll capture some of the flips in article form and will definitely keep everyone posted.

For now, have fun cooking up. I look forward to listening to what you create.

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The 18 Most-Viewed #SwinginFlipChallenge Beats

A curated collection from the first Micro-Chop sample challenge.

One week ago I started the first ever Micro-Chop sample challenge using “U Send Me Swingin,’” Mint Condition’s incredible late-1993 single. I was completely blown away by the creativity demonstrated in the submissions and the overall response to the #SwinginFlipChallenge.

I promised to compile all of the submissions into one article, but 75-plus videos is far too many for the article length limits Substack has. So I compiled the 18 most-viewed entries. I’ve linked to each producer’s Bandcamp page above their video. If you like their work, make sure to pick up a project and support their efforts.

I will also look to share some additional #SwinginFlipChallenge submissions in Micro-Chop article form in the not-too-distant future.

1) Dibiase

2) lo-tek

3) NELAC The Beat Ninja

4) Naj Ahead

N'Oddities Beat Tape Out Now! @naj_ahead
Big up to @micro_chop for the #SwinginFlipChallenge. I was swingin' my arms in frustration trying to flip this joint! Here is "Mo' Bounce Than Swing", w/ glitchy video footage of me cruising around San Fernando Valley at night. Soundcloud link:…

Micro-Chop @micro_chop

I've been really inspired by @nelacthebeatnja and @darealdibiase's sample challenges so I'm gonna throw a #SampleFlipChallenge out out there. I'll retweet anyone who gives it a go. Hashtag: #SwinginFlipChallenge YouTube link below.

5) eu-IV

6) Lightfoot

7) Nothing_Neue

8) Rich Garvey

9) Senz Beats

10) TellyMcLean


12) Stanley Ipkuss

13) Frilent

14) Densky9

15) ビクター MKII

16) Tasherre Risay

17) Danny Brown

18) The A3

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A quick look at the first Micro-Chop sample challenge.

In 1993 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota natives Mint Condition dropped their sophomore album From The Mint Factory.

The album’s second single “U Send Me Swingin’” became a solid hit thanks to impressive harmonizing and strong production values, eventually peaking at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late March of 1994 after four months on the charts.

15 years later Huntsville, Alabama production pioneers The Block Beattaz flipped the song on G-Side’s underground smash Starshipz And Rocketz for the track “Swangin’” featuring Darrien and The Speed of Sound Choir. Serving as one of the standout cuts from a very stellar album, the enhanced percussion and chopped and screwed-style chorus help introduce Mind Condition’s early-‘90s classic to a new audience of listeners.

I was one of those listeners and I’ve been a fan of the Mint Condition original and G-Side song/sample flip ever since. So I guess it makes sense that 12 years later I selected “U Send Me Swingin’” for the first ever Micro-Chop sample challenge—the #SwinginFlipChallenge to be exact.

For those unfamiliar, a sample challenge/flip challenge is when someone (usually a producer) posts a song and challenges other producers to make a beat out of it. Challenges are usually accompanied by a hashtag to help them catch on with a wider audience on social media.

Before I go any further, I want to give a big shoutout to Nelac The Beat Ninja. I know sample challenges have been around for a minute, but he really inspired me to do a Micro-Chop sample challenge after creating two separate challenges based on my articles.

I’d also like to shout out to Dibiase, his sample challenges were likewise a big inspiration.

I started the #SwinginFlipChallenge on Sunday, November 15th with very little expectation. I decided not to overthink it, rank participants, or offer any prizes for first place. I just wanted to make it fun, low pressure thing. I really wanted to see what people would cook up without the pressure of it being overly competitive.

The response so far has been incredible. I’ve already lost count of the number of producers participating (thank god for the hashtag) and the songs people have cooked up in a matter of hours/days have been ridiculous.

Here are a few of the most viewed creations so far:

"N'Oddities" Beat Tape Out Now! @naj_ahead
Big up to @micro_chop for the #SwinginFlipChallenge. I was swingin' my arms in frustration trying to flip this joint! Here is "Mo' Bounce Than Swing", w/ glitchy video footage of me cruising around San Fernando Valley at night. Soundcloud link:…

Micro-Chop @micro_chop

I've been really inspired by @nelacthebeatnja and @darealdibiase's sample challenges so I'm gonna throw a #SampleFlipChallenge out out there. I'll retweet anyone who gives it a go. Hashtag: #SwinginFlipChallenge YouTube link below.

Producers, here’s the good news. I didn’t set a cut off date or time so you can still participate if you want to. When the submissions stop coming in, I’m going to compile all of them into one Micro-Chop article to send out to my subscribers.

You never know who’s reading and listening.

If you’re a producer and you want a chance to flip a truly unique and beautiful record into something new, I suggest you give it a go. Make sure to use the #SwinginFlipChallenge hashtag in your tweet and @micro_chop so I can find your work and retweet it.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what other people come up with.

Let’s keep it going.

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DJ Spinbad Recorded 'Rock The Casbah' on a Broken 4-Track

A look back at the late legend's timeless masterwork.

On Wednesday, November 10th, 2020, the world lost DJ Spinbad. He was one of the all-time greats behind the turntables. He was only 46 years old.

Spinbad first found his love for DJing at age 13. His older step brother’s friend picked up turntables and he subsequently immersed himself in beat matching and blending whenever they visited his house. Heavily inspired by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s 1988 LP He’s The DJ, I’m the Rapper, Spinbad also developed a passion for scratching after studying Jazzy Jeff’s cuts on the album.

Though Spinbad had a lengthy resume with many notable highlights, his career really took off when he released Spinbad Rocks the Casbah: ‘80s Megamix Vol. 1 featuring A.Vee and frequent collaborator JS-1. Discogs and a few different media outlets have the release date listed as 1995, but an archived post from Spinbad’s old website has it set as 1996, so it’s hard to say precisely when this tape first dropped.

Whatever the actual release date, Spinbad Rocks the Casbah was a game-changer.

Although it was a massively influential and widely bootlegged release, recording options were far from ideal when Spinbad first set out to lay down his innovate mix idea. “I actually did this mix on a broken analog Yamaha 4-track cassette recorder,” he wrote in a 2009 website post. “One track was broken so everything was recorded on 3.”

Like so many innovative DJs and producers before him, he embraced the paltry limitations of his initial setup and made it work. Using three-track recording capability, two turntables, a mixer, and a stack of records, his love letter to the 1980s expertly rode the line between accessibility and technical mastery. Every section of the tape included enough beat juggles, scratches, and DJ tricks to wow technical nerds while simultaneously keeping the casual listener’s interest.

The DJ skills and song selection on Spinbad Rocks the Casbah were impeccable, but a unique creative flair and sense of humor also elevated it to the next level. For example, while playing The Human League’s hit single “Don’t You Want Me” Spinbad scratches in the words “hell no.”

He also layers in Kevin Spacey’s lines, “Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention,” from the 1995 movie Seven—all while beat juggling Hall & Oates “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” on the tape’s opening.

Beyond Hall & Oates, the entire opening of the tape begs for repeat listens and careful study. After Spinbad kicks things off with the “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” sequence, listeners are treated to a scratched and doubled up version of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” with some dialogue from The Breakfast Club blended in for good measure.

Then there’s a smooth transition into Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” before he follows up M’s “Pop Muzik” with flawless doubles of Annie Lennox singing,“Some of them want to be abused” on “Sweet Dreams”—perhaps taking a not so subtle shot at lesser DJs in the process.

Skipping ahead, the aforementioned bit featuring “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League is perhaps one of the most impressive sequences on the tape. Before Spinbad Rocks The Casbah, very few DJs likely considered beat juggling the British synth pop band’s massive 1981 hit. Spinbad tackles the challenge of flipping such an unconventional track by juggling and scratching the song’s opening with ease, proving that a gifted and imaginative DJ can give any musical moment a hip-hop feel. Once you experience his take on this early-‘80s gem you’ll likely never hear it quite the same way again.

Spinbad also tastefully sprinkles in some ‘80s songs mixed with rap beats around the 40-minute mark. Once again leaning on the Human League, he lets the opening of “Human” ride for a bit while Jazzy Jeff tells him to “drop that shit” before blending the song with Run-DMC’s “Sucker MCs” instrumental. In a somewhat risky move, he proceeds to keep the same beat rocking while also mixing in Men at Work’s “Down Under” and “Moonlighting Theme” by Al Jarreau—a strategy that ultimately works quite well.

Once this sequence is complete, Spinbad again shows his flair for darker artistic elements as he transitions from a triple “Sucker MCs” blend to dialogue from Wes Craven’s classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. Then he drops Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and beat juggles the hell out of the opening.

There’s so much magic crammed into the first 45 minutes of music and these sequences only bring us to the halfway mark. The second half of the mixtape is just as essential as the first, as Spinbad runs through classics like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,’ David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” Nena’s “99 Luftballons,” and Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”—all the while adding his twists and turns to keep listeners on their toes.

The tape is a feat of true artistry and it’s a shame that nobody ever tapped Spinbad for an in-depth breakdown of this classic while he was still with us. I certainly feel a great deal of regret over not making more of an effort to interview him.

Spinbad Rocks the Casbah: ‘80s Megamix Vol. 1 was the very beginning of a long and successful career for Spinbad. He dropped a whole cache of classic mixes like the 1996 JS-1 collaboration Cold Cutz Remixes (If I Ruled The Radio), an equally insane and impressive rap blend/remix tape that also apparently utilized broken 4-track cassette recorders. Beyond his feats as a mixtape master, he had a successful career in radio, toured extensively with Moby and comedian Russell Peters, and continued to wow crowds from around the world with his epic live sets.

Other elements of Spinbad’s catalog and career are certainly worthy of further examination, but for now it’s time to celebrate a truly unique talent with the one tape that started it all.

Rest easy Spinbad. Your presence will be missed.

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