Nik Furious: Sunday Best: WakandaFriday, September 13th, 2013
I often forget the process of building a beat once it's complete. Even though most of my songs and remixes take hours to create, once a song is finished my memories of the process float off into the aether.
But that's not the case with Wakanda. I remember the arduous cutting that it took to make the sample of D'Angelo's solo piano demo of Africa line up with my digital drums and synth bass.
It was the winter of 2004-2005. I was living in Brooklyn and sitting around my room sweating in my underwear because all of the building's pipes ran through my apartment. The heat was annoying but it was a good problem to have because it gets fucking cold in NYC!
The version of Africa used in this remix wasn't officially released at the time. It'd leaked and made its way onto Limewire, the popular pirating software of the day.
Though I was working on tons of beats at the time, Wakanda stands out because it required a degree of precision that I'd never used before. D'Angelo's performance here is loose and raw, not set to a perfect rhythm. That fluidity made it impossible to neatly line up some digital drums and quickly turn out the beat.
Basically, while creating Wakanda I taught myself how to make micro-edits to audio and alter the speed of a song without destroying the music or making it sound choppy. Once you figure out how to do this sort of thing, it's just a matter of practice. But until that time, it seems like some kind of unimaginable magic (especially in the pre-YouTube days where tutorials rarely found their way online).
My name for this remix has a pretty simple story behind it. In Marvel Comics, Wakanda is the fictional African nation ruled by the Black Panther. It's one of my favorite pieces of Marvel lore and a worthy moniker for this beat, which I think carries a lot of emotion and elegance.