Vigilante & Spytec Hip Hop Album Trilogy
My son, Producer Paul McKinna aka Vigilante talks about how he put together his mega trilogy of hip hop albums with producer Spytec based on his favourite movies. To get in touch with Paul about making beats for your tracks Contact Us.
“I started making Hip Hop beats when I teamed up with Profisee to form Great Ezcape, in Edinburgh Scotland, around 2004 with the later additions of Nik (The Manufacturer) PT, Ema J, and Simba. We released a couple of E.P.’s, did some shows, got some radio play, but after a couple of years started going in different directions so we parted ways to work on other projects. But that’s another story…
After Great Ezcape went on hiatus, I wanted to do a solo project I could move forward with at my own pace to keep my chops. So I decided to give myself a challenge, in fact the biggest challenge I could think of; I was going to remix the entire Bullitt soundtrack to Busta Rhymes acapella’s as a free promotional album. The Bullitt soundtrack had always been like Holy Ground to me in the past, being my favorite composer, Lalo Schifrin, my favorite soundtrack of my favorite film, starring no less than my favorite actor, Steve McQueen, and as such I never would sample it because I didn’t feel I was capable of doing it justice, being that I’d placed it on such a high pedestal. But now I felt I had the chops to handle it and was race ready. Going with all Busta Rhymes was not a hard decision, as again it seemed like the biggest challenge and I loved the idea of hearing his flow over my beats. There’s 16 tracks on the Bullitt soundtrack and I only had 3 Busta Rhymes acapella’s so after remixing the Bullitt Theme to Busta’s Woo Ha! to test the waters, I put my good friend & collaborator Brian White aka Spytec on the case, who did online searches, posted threads on hip hop forums, and harassed DJ’s till my “dream of 16” was complete. Meanwhile I had been steadily working on getting all these acapella’s in time & writing beats for them before figuring out how the Bullitt soundtrack was going to fit in to all of this. After many hours of chopping, tweaking, mixing, testing in nightclubs at 4am after hours, I finally finished what I still consider my masterpiece. So Bri knocked up some artwork with a nice nod to the Bullitt original soundtrack artwork.
So at some point during all this Bram at Black Lantern Music offered to release it on they’re site http://www.blacklanternmusic.com, and I did a launch with Spytec in Edinburgh at The Green Room. After that, I got a video guru I know, Ollie Elliott, to edit the car chase from Bullitt to my remix of the chase music and then we had a video. All in, the first release was pretty lackluster, mainly because I was scared to promote it for copyright issues, even though it was only ever intended as a “passion project” and to showcase what I can do.
Meanwhile, I was itching to keep the momentum I had gained and had enjoyed doing it so much I decided to follow it up with a sequel, and figured I’d continue with the Lalo Schifrin theme because really, who else would I sample for an entire album? This time I really wanted a challenge, as I was going to do this next one as a joint effort between Spytec and myself, seeing as he’d proven to be so resourceful with the first one considering I couldn’t have done it without him and because he’d done a couple of remixes himself that blew my mind so this one would be “Spytec & Vigilante Presents” as to the previous “Vigilante Presents”. This is the biggest misconception/confusion created by us, being that some sites (including Discgs and Black Lantern) list the first one as Spytec & Vigilante, in anticipation of the 2nd one, where the artwork only says Vigilante. This time we chose Cool Hand Luke, an 18 track soundtrack , and unlike the Bullitt soundtrack, which is a Hip Hop producers dream, filled with brass, flutes, and strings, Cool Hand Luke was full of banjo’s, acoustic guitars accompanying the brass, flutes, and strings, keeping with the films “Deep South” setting but making finding Hip Hop worthy samples in every track almost impossible in some cases but by filter and by delay, we made it Hip Hop worthy, dammit! In choosing the emcee on this one, I wanted to go with my favorite emcee lyrically, feeling in my mind I’d successfully already conquered the king of flow, even if no one knew about it. I suggested Talib Kweli to Bri (aka Spytec) and he agreed before disappearing for a month to track down 18 plus Talib Kweli acapella’s which proved to be not an easy mission. In the end he was successful although we had to settle for a couple of D.I.Y. aca’s where the instrumental had been layered on top of the original with the phase reversed, cancelling out the track, leaving just the vocal & a bit of hihat, and headphone spill (yes, it works). Meanwhile Bri followed the same theme with the artwork and before we knew it, we were balls deep in banjo’s. This one we dubbed “Cool Hand Luke vs Kweli”.
By this point I had taken suffering for my art to a new level, having just spent the last 3 months on the first remix album, and now working full time on the second unpaid project. Having split the workload between us, I was actually sleeping on Bri’s couch now, with my computer set up in his living room while he had his set up in his bedroom. We’d be working on 2 remixes at a time as we totally vibe’d off each others creative energy. About halfway through it, we were getting banjo fever and knew there was only one cure and it wasn’t more cowbell; we needed a third album to complete the trilogy and give us a fresh burst of creative energy. This time we went with the ever amazing (and unfortunately, ever sampled) Enter The Dragon soundtrack, a great contrast to the cool San Francisco sounds of Bullitt and the Southern Country vibes from Cool Hand Luke. The other key factor in choosing Enter The Dragon was it was only a 10 track soundtrack so we figured we could knock it out in between troubleshooting the 2nd one. Now Bri came up with the plan of writing this one with Nas acapella’s so Enter The Dragon vs Nas was born, and we had work to do.
At around this time, life altering events brought on mainly by me focusing only on the tasks at hand and ignoring the rest of life lead to me deciding to move to Canada so the pressure was on to get the trilogy finished. Finally everything pretty much came together in time for my departure, apart from Bri’s last track on the Cool Hand Luke vs Kweli album. Ollie also did 2 follow up video edits of the other 2 movies.
After that, I moved to Canada, promptly put all things music on hold while I sorted out life in another country and things fell apart from there. I lost contact with Bri, as he’s seemingly vanished into thin air, as I haven’t heard from him in over 2 years. As a result, eventually I put my remixes from the Cool hand Luke vs Kweli & Enter The Dragon vs Nas albums up alongside the Bullitt vs Busta remixes for free download on soundcloud. If/when Bri surfaces, we’ll hopefully add his mixes to the equation too. Anyways, that’s the story of the trilogy that almost killed me”.