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"All Your Friend's Friends" collides MCs and far-out DIY

Sampling K Records

Eprhyme, of THEE XNTRX, joined fellow band member Smoke M2D6 and K Records founder Calvin Johnson in creating the Northwest hip-hop compilation album, All Your Friend's Friends. Photo credit: Shall Seldier-Feller

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Borrowing samples of other people's music for your own songs was once the most natural thing in the world. I doubt that anyone really thought of the implication that you might end up profiting off of someone else's work - if anything, it might be viewed as a flattering gesture to pick a beat or a lyric or a musical sting and fold it into your own music. Eventually, everything changed, largely due to the first major lawsuit to come out of the sampling era (the precedent-setting suit from the Turtles to De La Soul, oddly enough), which set regulations about crediting and paying royalties to those you sample.

Famously, the Verve got their asses sued off and lost any royalties they might have received for basing "Bittersweet Symphony" off of an orchestral version of a Rolling Stones song. This is an act that I find to be the perfect dealing out of karma. I can't talk myself into a version of a story where the Verve were paying tribute to the Rolling Stones with their thievery. On the other hand, there can be a beauty to the cannibalizing of art; Madlib, notably, sifted through the Blue Note Records catalogue to make an album full of the label's jazz samples, Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note.

On a similar note, Olympia producer Smoke M2D6 raided the archives of legendary alternative record label K Records to put out an album of Pacific Northwest MCs rapping over K Records artists. The resulting compilation, All Your Friend's Friends, is gearing up for three album release shows.

"I was working on another K artist's album - his name is Eprhyme, and he's the other member of THEE XNTRX - and we got to talking about doing an album like how Madlib did an album with Blue Note," says Smoke M2D6. "We proposed it to Calvin (Johnson, founder of K Records), and he said that he had been waiting for someone to do that the whole time that they were around. ... There's nineteen songs that ended up making the album, and thirty-two MCs, once it's all said and done. But that number's a little skewed, because one of the songs has about 11 people on it."

The song that Smoke is referring to is "Jump Kick the Legs," a sort of mission statement for the whole project. Made up largely of a high-energy sample from the soul-punk Chain and the Gang, the video for the song features all 11 MCs taking turns doing verses on the campus of Evergreen College. Without pushing anything, it bursts with Olympia pride, and the variety and stylistic differences between the various rappers shows how vibrant and unique the city is.

"It was a massive undertaking," says Smoke M2D6. "I've always been a sample-digger anyway, so I have my own ways of keeping really organized. I had to go through 358 albums of K's. I went through their entire collection and took what I could. It was crazy. ... I had a rule of trying to incorporate two or three artists in each song. I tried not to sample just one, because there's so many great songs in the catalogue, so I wanted to include as many of them as I could."

The amount of people featured on this compilation are too numerous to mention, but samples include bits from Mirah, the Microphones, and Jeremy Jay (among many others), while the multitudinous MCs (like Xperience, Jesus Chris and Swamptiger, among many others) are pulled from the South Sound and the areas around Seattle. Like Smoke notes, this album functions much in the same way as K Records always did, by not drawing much from Seattle, instead shining a light on the weirdos and creative people that make up one of the most artistically rich places in the country.

Release shows are happening at Dante's in Portland Nov. 8, the Rendezvous in Seattle Nov. 13 and at the Olympia Ballroom in Olympia Nov. 15, with completely different lineups each time. Rap battles and far-out DIY music are expected to collide.

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