Somewhere lost in the anxiety of September and the elation of October, TSN put out a video of Russell Martin talking about how he frames pitches.
They made a genius decision to focus on how expressive Martin is with his hands, demonstrating that his hands are a tool of expression in more than one facet of his life and work.
Martin compares himself to a music conductor. He said similar things to the Toronto Sun earlier in the summer.
A man who counts "Coltrane" among his given names is meant to have music in his soul.
However, I wouldn't compare Martin's work to that of a music conductor.
I’d compare Martin to a superstar hip hop producer. Perhaps he’s Kanye West.
In the decade or so Kanye West has been a superstar, he’s been described as everything from a musical genius to a fool. And honestly, he’s probably both.
I have a lot of respect for West as an lyricist, a rapper and an MC. But I think his most exciting work is in the studio. The reason his life is “awesome” and he does “awesome shit” is because he’s a genius producer.
Arguably his best production work has been for Jay Z. They bring the best out in each other and there is a sizzle when it's working. Take “Lucifer” from The Black Album (2003).
It's not that Martin makes the pitchers good. He just supports them and brings everything where it needs to be. He makes those pitches sing.
Happ’s four seam fastball
Lord forgive him, he got them dark forces in him
But he also got a righteous cause for sinning
On permanent, hiatus as I skate
In the Maybach Benz, flier than Sanaa Lathan
Pumping "Brown Sugar" by D'Angelo
In Los Angele's, like an evangelist
Yes, this is holy war
I wet y'all all with the holy water
Spray from Heckler-Koch order
Matic auto-static, child cease to exist
Like a sabbatical, I throw couple at you, take six!
The more you talk, the more you irking us
The more you goin' need memorial services
"The Black Album" second verse, is like
Devil's pie, save some dessert for us
Oh man, I gotta get my soul right,
'Fore I'm locked up for my whole life,
Every time it seems it's alright
Somebody want they soul to rise
Kanye West takes an old reggae song, chops it up, speeds it up, pushes it up a few octaves and loops it.
Kanye’s sample is short, so he layers the shit out of it. He throws several layers of drums on it, establishes a beat and drives the song.
He then throws on a bass line, repeats it, which lends the groove.
Kanye layers two different guitars tracks, makes it richer and calls back to the reggae origin of the sample.
Kanye then brings piano in, which starts the track off and acts as sort of a secondary hook. It falls and then is pulled back.
Notice that every time Jay Z references some sort of religious imagery (which happens a lot) and it's nearly almost always followed by the hook.
The video of the recording session is great, and not just for the oversized polo Kanye is rocking. He plays the beat for N.W.A.'s "Dopeman" and then goes on to the beat of what becomes "Last Call" off of Kanye's debut album College Dropout. Jay Z makes stank faces.
You see the moments when Jay is really feeling it and then everyone is just grooving.
It's the collaboration between Russell Martin and the pitchers that stands out. He puts the work in, is creative and gets them all grooving.
The track breakdown files are from here. This dude breaks down a tonne of hip hop tracks and it's pretty fascinating. You can't tell me this isn't art.
The Stroman quote is from Arden Zwelling's article from earlier in the summer. Premise of the article, if Martin is gone, the Jays are boned. BONED.
If I could just get one beat on Hova
We could get up off this cheap-ass sofa