Our guest writer Zweli Chibumba gives us the lowdown on London producer Carns Hill and his penchant for sampling.
No doubt when you think of Carns Hill you consider SRB Separation Confirmed, The Countdown from 10 or the simple yet iconic Hills Productions soundbite. You might also associate Carns with drill or trap thanks to 67/86/Reekz MB. Or other collaborators such as Blade Brown, Young’s Teflon, Mental K, and SDG amongst others. But something you might not think of when you hear the Brixton producer’s name is sampling. Even less likely is the idea of film and animation. Carns has taken samples from film dialogue such as Paid In Full, Goodfellas, and Next Day Air to punctuate the song structure. But he’s found greater success by complementing artists’ styles with appropriate film/animation scores. Carns’ thrives in taking familiar sounds, flipping them out of recognition, and giving them back to the audience.
Beyond film sampling, Carns samples regular songs such as the Isley Brothers’ “Always Come Back” for Youngs Teflon’s track of the same name. Teflon’s excellent delivery paired with Carns’ little tweaks were a match made in heaven, much like his song ‘Leaving’ featuring a sample from The Villagers’ ‘Set The Tigers Free’. Here, Carns added his flair with a percussive beat overlapping the sped up Villagers sample. Interestingly, both samples weren’t classic picks. Carns never settles in that regard, showing a clear passion and knowledge for music in his use of obscure selections. He could have reused a Biggie sample or another old school R&B track, but the fact that he didn’t speaks volumes. The mark of a brilliant producer is tailoring beats to the individual and here his skill is exemplified because of it.
(Skip to 1:54 for the section sampled on Tan Em)
But back to the matter at hand -- samples from film and animation. I mentioned Carns’ ability to change the regular into the obscure. I look again to Youngs Teflon for an example, this time on ‘Tan Em’ from his Call of Duty 2: Riot Season project. The sampled dialogue here comes from Goodfellas, used for the intro and outro. This created a cohesion from start to finish. But more impressive is the use of music from the Karate Kid film remake (the one with Jaden Smith). Carns turns a traditional Chinese orchestral piece into a gritty soundtrack, retaining the emotion of the original and adding the trials and tribulations of the street. There are more film samples on Youngs Teflon’s F64, featuring music from Transformers, specifically the Arrival To Earth. Again, another hard-hitting performance by the rapper accentuating Carns’ work.
The icing on Carns’ sample obscurity cake comes in the form of two tracks. ‘2nd Anniversary’ and ‘Youngs Conway’ from, who else, Youngs Teflon, use two anime samples. ‘2nd Anniversary’ makes use of Naruto’s ‘Experienced Many Battles’, portraying its poignant feelings of triumph, hope, and self-reflection. Youngs Teflon helps this along with another stellar performance. Then ‘Youngs Conway’ takes the song ‘Never Meant To Belong’ from the anime, Bleach. Carns succeeds in turning a melancholic piece into a stomping ground for lines such as:
“Jimmy Conway that little hombré, suave and sophisticated just like the song say, numero uno Diego you know my nombré”.
A personal favourite when it comes to Youngs Teflon and an excellent display of Carns’ style.