Behind Bossy Love's Favourite 00s Jams

After releasing their debut EP, Whiplash, Bossy Love's John Baillie Jnr tells us all about the Glasgow duo's favourite era of pop music and all the sampling goodness that came with it

Feature by John Baillie Jnr | 24 Jan 2019
  • Bossy Love

In the early noughties sampling got way easier. ProTools HD and workstation keyboards, like the Korg Triton and Roland Fantom, were in full swing and meant producers could bash out beats manually. This gave a natural feel that’s difficult to achieve with drum machines, and now with a dizzyingly large library of sounds that were instantly accessible, all but perfect, and crisp straight out of the box. Where you could fire in a string section in seconds and it wouldn’t sound fucked (well, maybe a wee bit) – like an early sonic CGI. People still bought over-priced CDs and the labels just threw money around, and lucky for us some of it ended up funding some of the tightest pop music ever.

The effect of this technological and economic climate seems to be an era of pop music that feels 'quick'; where experimentation and concept could be realised into an arrangement faster than ever, allowing the creative signal to come through more pure, and where traditional R'n'B or pop songwriters could have their songs framed in seemingly infinite possibilities. This lucky sweet spot of traditional hip-hop studio techniques and pop songwriting seemed to unlock a sudden tsunami of all-time bangers.

Brandy – What About Us?
[Atlantic, 2002]

Destiny’s Child’s Say My Name starts with the sneaky announcement 'Darkchild 99' – the man responsible for much of the golden era of 00s R'n'B pop sound. What About Us? was released at the peak of his success; his creative breaks were off and the labels let him do whatever the hell he wanted. It’s an absolute wobbler and shouldn’t make sense. Heavy but unquantised, it gives me hope to know something this quirky was a radio hit. Brandy sits in the middle calling out false promises of her relationship, her rich vocal holding it all together. Her eagerness (even now) to tread into weird sonic territories makes her criminally overlooked.

Jazmine Sullivan – Bust Your Windows (remix ft. The-Dream)
[J, Puppy Love, Arista, 2008]

The-Dream's remix of this became Bossy Love’s blueprint for how we remix songs, almost making a sequel and adding to the story. The original tells the story of a woman losing her shit and smashing up her man’s car because she caught him in bed with another woman. In The-Dream remix he adds a bunch of verses, taking on the role of the man who got caught, throwing the entire story into doubt, and general hilarity ensues. Talking about how the car will be getting fixed for the next two weeks and 'by then you won't even remember why you’re mad at me', he takes her for a ride in the now windowless car ('are you crying or are those tears from the wind?'), and eventually admits that it’s fine because he was leaving anyway.

Mariah Carey – Honey
[Columbia, 1997]

Mariah’s pitch is so precise that her over-the-top runs always weave in and out of a track effortlessly – she’s scary good. Honey samples Hey DJ by The World's Famous Supreme Team and The Body Rock by Treacherous Three, but mashes them together so meticulously. Mariah moulds it into such a perfectly satisfying pop song that you’d be forgiven for not realising they were samples at all.

Missy Elliott – Lick Shots
[Elektra Records, 2001]

As time goes on, it becomes clearer that Missy Elliott was (and is) in a league of her own creatively. She’s a phenomenal writer and producer in her own right, but the synergetic relationship with Timbaland is when shit really got real. Lick Shots is a deep cut from the Miss E... So Addictive album; it samples a 70s Israeli song, layering up arpeggiated synths, anchored down by Timbo’s usual broken, knocking beats. It’s 18 years old and yet I heard the instrumental being DJed by Modeselektor in a club relatively recently, and it went down an absolute storm.

Blu Cantrell ft. Sean Paul – Breathe
[Arista, 2003]

Charles Aznavour was known as the French Frank Sinatra. If you take his 1966 song Parce Que Tu Crois ('Because You Believe'), loop the first two bars, slow it wayyyy down, add some sub-bass, a winey mono lead synth and a sparse drum beat, you have the framework for What's the Difference, Eminem and Dre’s touching little love song to each other on the album 2001. The instrumental would later be reused for Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul’s banger Breathe (which Bossy Love released a free cover of last month – hiya!). Thus completing the sampling circle of life.

Listen to a playlist featuring Bossy Love's favourite 00s Jams, as well as their new EP Whiplash, below:

Whiplash is out now
Bossy Love play Mac Arts, Galashiels, 1 Feb; Stereo, Glasgow, 2 Feb