The drunk beat

TMe

Senior Member
Ran to the front of the club and I peeped in, and their first song was “Bullshit,” from Labcabincalifornia, and I was so frozen, man. It sounded like a drunk three year old programmed this kick drum.
I don't get it. That sounds like a comment made by someone who's never listened to a live drummer in their life. Almost any drummer with any skill will rush some beats and hesitate on others to create a slightly asymmetrical sound - even if they don't realize they're doing it.

What am I missing?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
It really strikes me as a simple compound time. A swung beat over an un-swung beat (or two different swings), which is fairly revolutionary, and is likely incredibly uncanny/distressing sounding to anyone that didn't grow up with it.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Interesting thread-the Nate Smith video is awesome. I've appreciated him as a jazz player but watching the Vulpeck offshoot The Fearless Flyers he's funky as hell too. Now this video. Dang he's multitalented. This reminds me of all the nay sayers of Modern art-those that espouse only the classics. I think it all sounds pretty funky to me and I like it. It's not like they can't play it straight-it's an artistic choice. Yeah I know art is in the eye of the beholder.
 

TMe

Senior Member
...the Nate Smith video is awesome.
Yes, it's impressive when a drummer can manipulate the beat like that, leaning in to some notes and hanging back on others. Advanced stuff.

I don't see how someone programming a drum track so the bass drum is slightly off the grid is something to get excited about, though. But I'm not a fan of electronic music - at all - so it makes sense that there might be something I'm failing to appreciate.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I don't get it. That sounds like a comment made by someone who's never listened to a live drummer in their life. Almost any drummer with any skill will rush some beats and hesitate on others to create a slightly asymmetrical sound - even if they don't realize they're doing it.

What am I missing?
In a word? Intent.

Yes, lack of skill will involve notes being placed slightly out of time. But it will happen inconsistently, and it will lack conviction, overall. Slightly delaying or rushing a note or notes necessarily involves choosing which notes will be delayed or rushed. And these choices are informed by your knowledge of the genre. There's a language to speak.

You can think of it as reverse-engineering music that was made with samplers. Often, there were beats that were slightly out of time, or that had friction because of different swings, and this added to the hypnotic feel.

The key is keeping the hats in perfect time to show your not actualy just being sloppy.
Some drummers and producers do play this way, and create "flams" in the process, but keeping the hats in time is not the only approach. Often, if a kick or snare is "moved", then, if there is one, the accompanying hi-hat goes along with it. Here, a hi-hat note that is not in unison with a kick or snare, gets "moved".

 

Juniper

Gold Member
I've always loved this song as an example, it's another D'Angelo track featuring Questlove. It's very subtle but a brilliant example of how well it can fit a song.

I was pretty much obsessed with this when I first heard it.

 

WallyY

Platinum Member
I don’t care for nailing the grid, and I have a bit of distain for two and four rote just to please the people who need simplicity, but I really don’t care for catering to the need to mix it up in a sloppy way just because the song was recorded robotically.
 
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SirSwingsAlot

Well-known member
you are an unquantified drum machine when you play "drunk" or as I call them "Jay Dee or J Dilla or Dilla or Dilla dawg or jay stay paid" beats. You are aiming for about 65% or 60% percent accuracy in your rhythm. That, or extreme accuracy to sound just like a drum machine.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
you are an unquantified drum machine when you play "drunk" or as I call them "Jay Dee or J Dilla or Dilla or Dilla dawg or jay stay paid" beats. You are aiming for about 65% or 60% percent accuracy in your rhythm. That, or extreme accuracy to sound just like a drum machine.
I would disagree. These beats are not out of time. You are just hitting on quintuplet timings (and such). They strive to be on time. It takes way more skill than I have to do it. But I’ll never learn how to do it as it doesn’t groove to me. YMMV.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..I would disagree. These beats are not out of time..

Thats also not what he says (that they are out of time), at least in the way how i understand..

I agree though, that to play those beats a little properly, a drummer needs some serious skills..
 
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GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
You know how some drumming just feels intuitive-has a natural flow in time? I think this falls in the counterintuitive category (where time is more "fluid" so like drags for instance or swing has "swiiiii-ing to it lol). When I first heard John Bonham I thought he had an offbeat-ness to his playing (compared to other drummers of the day-just my opinion). I think this is same idea and the "genius" comes in how it blends with all the other instruments. I can see the influence in Latin music.
 

SirSwingsAlot

Well-known member
I would disagree. These beats are not out of time. You are just hitting on quintuplet timings (and such). They strive to be on time. It takes way more skill than I have to do it. But I’ll never learn how to do it as it doesn’t groove to me. YMMV.
I never said they out of time but I was trying to explained the things that dilla literally would put into his drum machine. The settings would be at 50-60% swing and not quantized, making some beats a little more “off” than others. I can post a video example of me playing it if you would like as I have devoted a lot of time to studying the genius of James “J Dilla” Yancey.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
I don't know much about hip-hoppin' but for my money Leonard Berstein nailed the "drunk beat" with the "Blues" portion of the Dance in the Gym from West Side Story....

Like a seasoned drunk learns to walk without falling, Bernstein plays with the time just enough to tilt the deck without sinking the ship.

Here:

 

brentcn

Platinum Member
but I really don’t care for catering to the need to mix it up in a sloppy way just because the song was recorded robotically.
Well, the point is not to just "mix it up". If certain beats are shifted, and this shifting is maintained from measure to measure, then a different time feel emerges. The music, as a whole, changes in a palpable way. It's not simply variety, for variety's sake. Even if such time-shifting takes places sparingly -- say, once per 8 measure phrase -- then it's still a nod to an artistic aesthetic.

And it's ridiculous to argue that such accomplished players as Questlove, Chris Dave, Karriem Riggins, etc. are being "sloppy", when their execution of the style is so deliberate and consistent. If it sounds "sloppy" to you, then perhaps a closer listen is in order.
 

hawksmoor

Senior Member
Brentcn, I like your style, man. We're both reading from the same page. I'm steeped in breakbeat culture, and can vouch that this 'drunk' beat is difficult to pull off.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
How old were Drummerworld drummers the day they found out about the Dilla beat? Today years old, apparently.
 
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