O.G. Style, Delinquent Habits, and The Importance of Documenting Beatmaking History

An argument for telling the stories of more production pioneers.

Welcome to Micro-Chop, a newsletter dissecting beatmaking, DJing, music production, rapping, and sampling — written by me, Gino Sorcinelli.

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O.G. Style, Delinquent Habits, and The Importance of Documenting Beatmaking History

When I was in sixth grade, I caught the music video for Delinquent Habits’ “Tres Delinquentes” on MTV and was immediately fascinated by their music. I loved the unconventional mariachi sample source (Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass’s “The Lonely Bull”) and the energy they brought to the track. Not long after I ordered their self-titled debut CD through my BMG Music Club membership.

Though Delinquent Habits is by no means a classic, it’s definitely an interesting listen and holds up pretty well. In particular, I’ve always been struck by then-producer DJ O.G. Style’s instrumentals. His sample flips are nothing crazy in terms of chopping and arrangement, but he has an ear for catching and looping the special part of random records that many other producers tend to overlook. Sometimes that’s just as important as chopping a sample into tiny fragments and turning it into something new.

Out of all the group’s material, “Good Times” is the cut that continues to resonate with me most. It’s hard to remember exactly how this song hit me when I first heard it as in 96/97, but I’m pretty sure it was one of several critical early moments when I realized just how beautiful sampled instruments and voices could sound over basslines and drums.

I was even more in impressed when I started studying liner notes in high school and college and discovered that O.G. Style had repurposed the single version of the The Byrd’s “Lay Lady Lay” cover for his beat. Making that connection and hearing the beautiful original was a powerful experience. (Check out Dart Adamsexcellent Medium article on the history of finding sample sources through liner notes for more on this topic.)

Earlier this week I randomly posted the “Tres Delinquentes” video in the Micro-Chop twitter feed just because I felt like it. In the process, I did a little online digging and found a nice 1996 L.A. Times write-up about the group from Cheo Hodari Coker. Though Delinquent Habits’ MCs Ives and Kemo were quoted in the article, O.G. Style was not—even though he played a key role in connecting with Sen Dog of Cypress Hill and getting the group signed to Ruffhouse/Columbia. Coker’s writing is still engaging and very worthwhile, I just wish there had been more about the group’s DJ/producer included.

In fact, I really struggled to find many quotes from O.G. Style at all, which is surprising when you consider that Delinquent Habits had some solid commercial success—especially in their early years. He isn’t even mentioned on the group’s current about page from their website, apparently because he is no longer a member. With the exception of a few paltry lines from an undated urbansmarts.com interview, there isn’t really anything out there documenting his creative process or insights.

This is one of the most disappointing aspects of rap coverage in the genre’s first two decades. Though there were some journalists out there doing vital work on the subject, documentation of important DJs and producers still leaves a lot to be desired. Scratch magazine was a vital publication that so many of us still love and yearn for today because it finally gave producers well-deserved recognition for their contributions to the genre.

This is an issue I’m passionate about improving. I’ve spoken to producers like Eddie James and Joc Max to help document important bits of history about lesser-known but vital instrumentals and songs. When I stop to think about the number of producers out there who never really had a chance to tell their story, especially from rap’s early and pre-internet years, it makes my head explode.

With all the article, podcast, and video options for telling such stories in the modern era of journalism, it seems like an extremely ripe time for sifting through production credits and documenting conversations with some of these originators.

As I was writing this article, I realized O.G. Style put out “Good Times” and other unreleased instrumentals on Spotify in a series of albums. Unfortunately, as many producers have found when trying to gain traction on the streaming giant, their playlist and algorithm system is pretty broken for beatmakers. Producers who have better marketing and more label muscle tend to get most or all of the shine.

Right now O.G. Style is only pulling in a paltry 600 spins per month.

21 years after their debut Delinquent Habits minus O.G. Style came back on the scene and had a major success with the 2017 Sen Dog-assisted “California,” which currently has over 28 million views on YouTube.

Hopefully this is a sign that the group’s former DJ and producer can also have an opportunity to get some shine for his past work. It seems only fair that someone who played an instrumental role in developing the Delinquent Habits sound finally have some say regarding the group’s history and early creations.

Thanks for reading, see you on Monday!