Kool & the Gang - "Fruitman"
Published February 27, 2006 by Andy | E-mail this post
And on that note...Donuts
' eighth track was bugging the hell out of me. Motown references are all of the album, so I speculated that its piano vamps might've been pulled from a version of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours." I consulted Rob, who said they could've been from a version of "I Was Made to Love Her" (I might have the titles switched). Like the absent-minded sample snoop I often am, I had been ignoring the exultations of "Fruitman!" throughout the track, and it eventually occurred to me to find out if there are any tracks with the title "Fruitman."
A search in a music database pulled up the second track on Kool & the Gang's Light of Worlds, an album I own. (It's the one with "Summer Madness," Rocky Balboa's favorite mood setter.) I was dumbfounded that I had to do that much thinking and research to confirm the sample, but once I listened to "Fruitman," it became evident why I didn't think of it: it's not very good. It's kind of hokey and it's also sluggish in relation to what Dilla did with it, though I fully endorse its message of eating fruits and vegetables.
And you know what? Beyond placing it over a more pronounced beat and shapeshifting some of the voices, I can't tell you exactly what he did with it. An initial, unfocused comparison left me with the impression that Dilla's track is about twice as fast as the source. Deep concentration revealed little difference in tempo. Perhaps it's all about context; Donuts is ceaselessly kinetic, one idea right after another, whereas Light of Worlds is an album by Kool & the Gang. At any rate, this is yet another case of Dilla flipping an otherwise useless track and making it sound like one of the Great Unused Breaks. I don't think any other producer has gone near it.