For today's feat of a third Street's Disciple post in a row, I want to focus on what could possibly be my favorite of the lost tracks from this project, Good Morning. Unlike anything appearing throughout either disc, Good Morning comes at the world, in its music and lyrics, a bit different. With a studied breath and careful speech, Nas gives focus equally to the run of school children and the lurch of the homeless, all a part of the morning traffic. His early ad-libs serve literally as a dawn salutation, his "yeah" not hyped or downtrodden, reflective almost, framing thoughts the way waking up to the call of the sun only can. There's movement outside, but the chaos of the city is tucked away for now. People are still sleeping, the air casts a fog that slows everything down to an AM pace, and Nas is up early, without the anxiety of past years: "Can't ya tell I'm much happier nowadays? No more child play, living life the foul way." But then this textured feel that you get is not merely from Nas, but rather springs forth from the rich sample of the Isley Brother's For The Love Of You. While clearance problems with that sample might be what got Good Morning inevitably cut, I can't imagine it sounding any different than it does courtesy of the Isleys.
With a career that spans from the 1950's straight through today, hopefully 2005-2006 is not the first time you've heard of the Isley Brothers. (Ron Isley even popped on another Nas song before, Project Windows.) At the group's best, blending their church upbringing with the sounds of the popular music from the various decades they've traveled, the Isleys' sound reflects a depth of influences. Able to adapt to whatever was happening outside, these Cincinnati legends became masters of laying down their own takes on top of the established, always while expanding their own style. Seen from the contagious pulse of Fight the Power to the slow-burn sweat of Don't Say Goodnight, their catalog displays the rawness of funk just as easily as the refined air of a seductive slow jam. A keen sense of timing, a strong sense of melody, and a constant groove, all too have proven the Isley Brothers accomplished songwriters, soulful and straight to the point.
This aforementioned idea of the Isleys' six-decade run, while still maintaining a measure of relevance throughout, is no minor point. It speaks not only to the versatility of their sound, but to the diversity of their talent and a willingness to embrace change. Most recently, thanks to R. Kelly and the creation of the Mr. Biggs persona, a new spin, for a new audience, has the Isley name back on the radio dial, where it began before most of us were even us. Rap music has also put a new look on these timeless records, as the sampling of their music has scored hits for everyone from Naughty by Nature to Ice Cube. Simply off of Between the Sheets alone, Biggie, Da Brat, and Whitney Houston all jumped to a higher tax bracket. Through Hip-Hop, propelling other artists to success again and again, the Isleys continue to recreate a whole new era of what they are about. While For The Love Of You itself has been sampled more than a couple times before, had Good Morning ever made it to proper release, it would have pushed that influence even further.
For The Love Of You packs that particular breezy vibe that catapulted plenty of the Isley Brothers catalog into a classic realm, where slick becomes smooth and heartfelt becomes almost haunting. The song soars with the drum and the bass meeting at the hip, the guitar nearby, all the signature vamp that underscored the 3+3 era of the Isleys' reign. From the synth work of cousin Chris Jasper, the wailing guitar and drumming of Ernie Isley, bass from Marvin Isley, and the distinct vocal runs of Ron Isley, they laid out a sound that you always knew was their own, accentuated during slow jams especially. Such as the case here, where the groove used on Good Morning, in its familiar sweep, simply glides, effortless even, leaving Nas to compliment the tone of the track with his warm vocals. Nas then builds upon the thematics of the song and moves it down a whole different avenue. This is an example of a bridge of creativity that ties great artists together.
Good morning, yawning, dawn is now gone andNas: Good Morning
New day, toothpaste, brushing my screw face
Follow the light, it's such a great feeling
And I love life, every minute's pure healing
BONUS: The Isley Brothers: Don't Say Goodnight
BONUS: The Isley Brothers: Fight The Power
BONUS: The Isley Brothers: For The Love of You
*NOTE: Today's write-up is predominately the work of mistermaxxx. Thanks to dude for his contribution and time and for letting me bounce ideas off him more than once.--Fletch