Monday, April 04, 2005

Not All That Jazz, Part 2: Beyond The Open Doors

This is The Low End Theory's second installment of "Not All That Jazz." It is an ongoing series that is going to showcase material that has been sampled or should be sampled that does not fit the traditional Hip Hop mold of sampling from Funk, Soul, and Jazz Music. Today we are going to focus on the popular 60's/70's eclectic Rock group The Doors.

The Doors became a group in 1965. They met at UCLA film school in Los Angeles, California. Each of the four members of the band brought a distinct flavour to the group. Artistically, The Doors were quite revolutionary blending many different musical influences such as Rock, Jazz, Flamenco, Blues, Indian, Classical, and Folk with Jim Morrison's equally revolutionary poetic, political, and social lyrics.

The Group was also known for it's very psychedelic approach to their craft and life. They indulged in a lot of drug use and mental exploration. Jim Morrison, the lead vocalist and charasmatic frontman of the group, was deeply influenced by poetry and thought of himself more as a poet than an entertainer. The group's name was actually derived from a line of verse from the great poet William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite." They chose The Doors as their name as the the quote represented what they felt they stood for. They started playing some well known clubs in the Los Angeles area and were then signed to Elektra Records (which has now been absorbed into Atlantic Records) on recommendation from a simlar Rock band that just got signed to the same label, Elektra's first Rock group: "Love." Elektra Records was a small folk label when The Doors were signed. The Doors helped make the label a powerhouse.

The Doors were very successful and recorded many albums for Elektra. However, the success didn't last long as the The Doors led a decadent lifestyle, especially Jim Morrison whose antics landed him in trouble with the law, and also left him with a tired body from all the partying, drug use, and hard living. Jim Morrison died in Paris, France on July 3rd 1971. The Doors tried to continue without him but they were unsuccessful and disbanded.

Today, The Doors are still a big influence on music and popular culture. Each successive generation re-discovers The Doors music as it has stood the test of time. Since Hip Hop is a culture that seems to preserve great music of the past and re-incarnates it into brand new artistic expression, it is no doubt that The Doors music has touched Hip Hop. Some of the biggest names in Hip Hop have samples from The Doors in their music. Probably the most successful and well known is "The Takeover" by Jay-Z, which is a scathing diss track directed at Jay-Z's rap rival Nas. Other artists such as Cypress Hill, Souls Of Mischief, 3rd Bass, and Lauryn Hill have all either sampled The Doors or used The Doors music as inspiration for their own tracks.

Below I have included 3 tracks by The Doors that I am currently feeling. I have included the track "Five To One" which was both sampled and interpolated for Jay-Z's "The Takeover."

Five To One
Who Scared You
The End

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