Grooves & Samples offers a dive into old crates of jazz, funk, soul and beyond, in order to find more music through hip hop.
Born in 1954, Walter “Junie” Morrison was a gifted musician: learning to play the piano as a child, as well as a vast range of instruments at a later age, resulting in him being school director and and orchestra conductor. In 1970, he joined the funk band Ohio Players, and became the main writer, arranger and producer for the group.
Words: Martin Boev (In Search Of Media)
His musical leadership led him to release three solo albums, credited as Junie, where he produced and arranged the whole album, playing all the instruments as well. That takes a manic level of talent, and his genius was most evident in his 1976 release Suzie Super Groupie on Westbound Records.
One of the clear highlights is “Suzie Thundertussy” which was sampled by Madlib for Kanye West’s 2016 album The Life of Pablo. The track is called “No More Parties in L.A.” and features two stellar verses from Kanye and Kendrick Lamar. The highlight really is the overpowering bass and the somewhat sinister chords which create this undeniable groove to it.
“The chords lead to an explosive chorus full of joy and grandiosity, with Junie singing about how he loves the girl Suzie in the story, in a Prince-esque way of quirkiness”
Junie’s talents can be showcased all over this album through subtle chord progressions which are nothing short of emphatic and chillingly beautiful. The chords lead to an explosive chorus full of joy and grandiosity, with Junie singing about how he loves the girl Suzie in the story, in a Prince-esque way of quirkiness. Madlib flipped that track and looped the groove that kicks the song off to give a perfect tempo and tone for Kanye and Kendrick to spit their verses. To me, this makes it one of the best songs off that album.
Beyond ‘Suzie Thundertussy’,’ other records off Junie’s critically acclaimed album have been sampled in hip hop. One of the most recent examples of this is Karriem Riggins, who sampled keys in the first minute of Junie’s song “Spirit,” for songs off his excellent new project Headnod Suite. Beyond just the sample, the song erupts with energy into a pure rock-funk jam at the 2 minute mark, one of the many memorable highlights of Suzie Super Groupie.
“What Am I Gonna Do”, another cut from the album, was sampled on one of Madlib’s Medicine Show No. 13: Black Tape. The original is a pure funk jam which calls back to the time Junie used to be musical director for Parliament-Funkadelic in the late 70s. Madlib sampled that groove effortlessly, giving emcee Blaq Poet way to rap aggressively and with charisma, as per usual.
I cannot recommend Suzie Super Groupie enough. Whether you’re a producer looking for new samples, a DJ or simply a music fan, Walter ‘Junie’ Morrison excels in every aspect from this album. From the explosive energies to the addicting grooves, Suzie Super Groupie is a real gem.