Celebrating Jam Master Jay: Run-DMC’s Top 5 Most Sampled Cuts

On what would have been Jam Master Jay‘s 50th birthday, we take a look at Run-DMC‘s Top 5 most sampled cuts, a collection which (along with many more tracks from their heavily sampled catlaog) places the group as the 4th most sampled act of all time.

mr2_200919_1918152462505. Rock Box (sampled 70 times)

This rock-rap hybrid would go on to form the blueprint for numerous similar fusions, including what is perhaps Run-DMC’s best known cut, ‘Walk this Way’. Just beating Beats to the Rhyme to the number 5 spot in this list, Rock Box has been sampled by artists ranging from Jay Z to Mariah Carey, although it’s most popular listing on WhoSampled is the sample of the word ‘Run’ from the intro, sampled to form the hook for The Pharcyde‘s mid 90s J Dilla produced classic ‘Runnin’.

mr2_200919_1918152462504. Jam Master Jay (sampled 76 times)

Apt given that context of this list, is the inclusion of this ode to the Jam Master himself, “the best DJ in the U.S of A” as the lyrics inform us. The track itself samples two of Run-DMC’s best loved (and most sampled) cuts: Sucker M.C.’s and Here We Go (see below). Of those to have sampled Jam Master Jay, perhaps the best known is Jason Nevins’ ‘It’s Like That’, the bass heavy house remix that scored Run-DMC an unlikely mainstream revival hit in 1997.

mr2_200919_1918152462503. Sucker M.C.’s (Krush Groove 1) (sampled 138 times)

Released in 1983, ‘Sucker M.C.’s’ is among the most iconic tracks from the group’s early catalog, both the track’s memorable drums and many quotable lines having been re-appropriated by notable hip hop artists from the mid 80s right through to the present day, among them 2Pac, The Beastie Boys, MF Doom and many, many more.

mr53041_20141030_1443174711932. Peter Piper (sampled 150 times)

Itself based on (and largely responsible for popularizing) Bob James’ cover version of Paul Simon’s ‘Take Me to The Mardi Gras’, this 80s hip hop anthem and DJ favorite puts Jam Master Jay (whose “turntables might wobble, but they don’t fall down”) in the driving seat. The track has become a classic resource for artists looking to inject that anthemic breakbeat meets drum machine feel into their tracks with Missy Elliott’s liberal usage being a classic example.

mr564_2009329_833539024991. Here We Go (Live at The Funhouse) (sampled 526 times)

By far the group’s most sampled cut with over 500 usages, this track ranks as the 9th most sampled track of all time. The lo-fi recording of ‘Here We Go’ performed live at the Funhouse released in 1983 has become one of Hip Hop’s go-to sources on account of the scattering of vocal snippets contained in the track’s intro. Before Jam Master Jay takes to the wheels to cut up two copies of Billy Squier’s ‘Big Beat’, DMC introduces his crew with the now infamous “Ah yeah, check this out” which has since appeared in hundreds of Hip Hop cuts, chopped into choruses or cut up by DJs.

Words: Chris Read

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Slick Rick Celebrates 50th: Retrospective Top 5

Veteran (British born) New York hip hop icon Slick Rick aka MC Ricky D celebrates his 50th birthday today. Known for his English twang and pioneering story-based rhyme style, Rick was fast to establish a reputation as a unique voice in the fledgling New York hip hop scene of the mid to late 80s. With a career marred by a lengthy prison term in the early 90s and subsequent legal issues with US immigration, full length albums from Slick Rick number only 4. Amongst his catalog however are numerous cuts that are rightfully considered classics. Testament to the iconic status of these tracks is the fact that Rick has been sampled over 1,100 times placing him among the most sampled artists of all time. Here we re-cap 5 of Rick’s most influential cuts and personal favorites:

sittininmycarSlick Rick feat Doug E Fresh – Sittin’ In My Car

A stand out track from Rick’s 1994 LP ‘Behind Bars’, ‘Sittin In My Car’ returns to Rick’s roots enlisting the beatbox talents of long time collaborator Doug E Fresh. Doug’s human beatbox provides the backdrop to a quirky sample of Billy Stewart’s ‘Sitting in the Park’ which Rick also interpolates to great effect on the chorus. Released as a single the same year, the track was a mid 90s mixtape favorite.

ItsaboySlick Rick – It’s A Boy (Remix)

Not a heavily sampled cut, but this remix single from Rick’s sophomore LP ‘The Ruler’s Back’ is a firm favorite at WhoSampled HQ. Produced by Large Professor around the same time that interest in Main Source’s original Large Pro led line up was soaring this track predicted mid 90s production trends years ahead of the curve with crunchy (presumably SP12 programmed) drums (Lonnie Smith), sleighbells (Average White Band) and a filtered bass groove (Cal Tjader) all present.

chldrnsstorySlick Rick – Children’s Story

Rick’s twist on the traditional bedtime story is probably the most famous example of his narrative rhyme style. The track has been sampled close to 70 times, although the most famous is perhaps Montell Jordan‘s mid 90s R&B anthem ‘This Is How We Do It’ with its wholesale use of the track’s instrumental.

theshowDoug E Fresh & Slick Rick – The Show

A hit single for Doug E Fresh in 1985, ‘The Show’ is the cut that propelled Slick Rick to stardom, the light hearted conversational to and fro between Doug and Rick perfectly displaying his charisma and story telling talents. Drawing on an unlikely pallet of samples that includes interpolations of The Beatles’ ‘Michelle’ and the theme from kids TV show Inspector Gadget, the track has itself been sampled more than 100 times by artists including Notorious BIG, Big Daddy Kane and Kanye.

ladidadiDoug E Fresh & Slick Rick – La Di Da Di

“Yes, it’s the original human beatbox Doug E Fresh, and his partner the Grand Wizard MC Ricky D and that’s me” so says the intro to the 5th most sampled record of all time (and Slick Rick’s most sampled track). Sampled more than 650 times, this much loved b-side to Doug E Fresh’s ‘The Show’ is littered with hip hop quotables making it a go-to cut for scratch DJs and producers looking for iconic vocal snippets. That aside, it’s a great track with many memorable lines, in particular the sing song hook that forms the basis of Notorious BIG’s Hypnotize.

Words: Chris Read

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Mark Ronson – Uptown Special & Retrospective Top 5


Mark Ronson releases his latest album Uptown Special this week with a huge array of styles and guests as we’ve come to expect with appearances from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Andrew Wyatt (of Miike Snow), Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala), Mystikal, Bruno Mars, Keyone Starr and Jeff Bhasker. We’ve had a few interesting submissions for the new LP already including a radio friendly reference to Snoop Dogg’s ‘Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)’ and a nod to Trinidad Jame$’s smash ‘All Gold Everything’ but we thought we’d take the chance to have a look back at his impressive output to date and compile some of our favourite Ronson cuts…

mark-ronsonMany would’ve first heard of Ronson on 2003’s ‘Ooh Wee‘ featuring Ghostface Killah, Nate Dogg, Trife and Saigon which acted as his launchpad into the mainstream. Sampling a killer loop from Boney M., funky drums from Dennis Coffey’s ‘Scorpio’, it’s become a modern dancefloor classic and still sounds absolutely huge today.

Ronson-Toxic packshot LoRonson’s Sophomore album Versions was his defining release, cementing his place as a pop musician and producer with real artistic qualities. Pulling in ODB and vocalist Tiggers for a horn-filled cover of Britney Spears ‘Toxic’ stood out as a highlight, influenced in no small amount by his work with the Daptone Horns.

Mark-Ronson-Stop-Me-418847One that can be said about Ronson’s work is that he’s not afraid to draw on a wide pallet of influences, his cover of The Smiths ‘Stop Me’ featuring Daniel Merriweather being a prime example.

largeRonson’s eclecticism is also borne out in the form of remixes (both of his work and by Ronson of others). His huge hit ‘Valerie’ featuring the late Amy Winehouse ensured this album was listened to by a massive range of music fans from rap/indie geeks to casual radio listeners alike, with remixes ranging from a raw reggae influenced hip hop treatment from Baby J and pulsing house rework from The Count & Sinden.

thumbnail_8_1367Outside of his own artist albums he’s worked behind the boards with a huge array of mainstream pop artists: Macy GrayChristina Aguilera, Lily Allen, Robbie Williams. A favorite among his many collaborations and productions is Sean Paul’s ‘International Affair’ sampling UK #1 ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ by Althea & Donna .

ICYMI: Make sure to check out Mark Ronson’s incredible TED Talk ‘How Sampling Transformed Music’ from last year!

Words – Ethan Illingworth (@illersss)

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Biggie vs. Tupac: The Stats!

Just before Christmas Complex Magazine dropped another edition of their video series pitching two of hip hop’s heavyweights against one another in a pair of videos citing 10 reasons the career of each triumphed over the other. (Readers may remember the similar feature with Jay Z and Nas earlier last year).

10 Reasons Biggie is better than 2Pac:

10 Reasons 2Pac is better than Biggie:

But how does each of their influence fair in terms of stats for the number of times each artist has been sampled, covered and remixed?:

– Has sampled others 415 times.
– Has been sampled 424 times.
– Has been covered 27 times.
– Has been remixed 61 times.

Notorious B.I.G:
– Has sampled others 314 times.
– Has been sampled 1,053 times.
– Has been covered 20 times.
– Has been remixed 40 times.

So, both artists have been remixed and covered a fairly similar number of times, 2Pac taking a slight lead on Biggie in both cases, which is unsurprising given that he released far more material (both during his lifetime and posthumously). 2Pac also used more samples, again to be expected given the size of his catalog. One might have expected this figure to be larger, were in not for the fact that many of 2Pac’s tracks featured synth led original compositions and replays rather than the sample heavy, layered productions favored by Biggie and East Coast artists in general. Where Biggie shows dominance though is in the number of times he has been sampled and quoted (arguably the best indicator of influence), a staggering 1,053 times compared with just 424 times for 2Pac. It would be hard to argue that this is not a mammoth achievement, particularly given Biggie’s relatively short recording career.

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Top 10 Samples of 2014: Staff Picks


Following on from our recent rundown of WhoSampled’s most popular samples of 2014, we’ve highlighted some of our personal favorite tracks and sample flips of 2014 selected by the WhoSampled team

r77889_2014422_213128249518Percussions’ KHLHI sample of Syreeta’s Keep Him Like He Is

Four Tet kept himself fairly quiet release-wise this year following 2013’s Beautiful Rewind and production duties for Omar Souleyman and Neneh Cherry instead shifting the focus to his own label Text Records. Releasing several 12s under the alias Percussions this not so subtly named track ‘KHLHI’ was our pick of the bunch combining bouncy house elements with a choppy loop drifting in-and-out the track as it develops.

r14512_201459_52119255995Bok Bok’s Howard sample of Howard Johnson’s Let This Dream Be Real

Bok Bok continued to push the sound of London’s Night Slugs label forward in 2014 by incorporating classic electro-funk elements into his signature hyper-real, grime influenced sound palette on the Your Charizmatic Self EP. Another nod to the sample source in the track title, this instrumental piece slices up warm synth licks from Howard Johnson‘s ‘Let This Dream Be Real’ and juxtaposes them with cold concrete reverbs, gun shell samples and Pulse X style bass stabs with incredible results.

r91560_2014515_174930804750Fatima’s Do It Better sample of 100% Pure Poison’s Puppet on a Chain

A real highlight from the album Yellow Memories, London soulstress Fatima teamed up with Floating Points to recreate 100% Pure Poison‘s ‘Puppet on a Chain‘ – an interesting source incredibly well repurposed.

r46368_2014928_4959358722Flying Lotus’s Turtles sample of Ennio Morricone’s Piume Di Cristallo

As Flying Lotus‘ career has advanced, his music has drifted away from it’s humble beginnings of neck-snapping, sample-heavy instrumental hip-hop and deeper into the free jazz and experimental electronica that his early work only hinted at. FlyLo bucks that trend on ‘Turtles’ from this year’s critically acclaimed ‘You’re Dead’, which utilises the title theme to 1970 Italian film ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’ as its melodic jump-off. During a play-by-play commentary on the album on twitter, Lotus opined “Such a big Ennio Morricone sample. I thought it would be more trouble to keep it than it was worth. I’m glad I did because I really do like it”.

r21472_2014314_144940494525Freddie Gibbs and Madlib feat. Danny Brown’s High sample of Freda Payne’s I Get High (On Your Memory)

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib‘s Piñata provided a highly-rated and fan favourite Hip-Hop album in a year that lacked high profile sampled based contenders, a fact evidenced by the fact this LP received more staff nominations than any other. Not only sampling the oft-used chorus, Madlib integrates a lovely guitar-led interpolation of Freda Payne’s vocal hook into the verse of this track.

r102860_2014823_153139421039Ariana Grande feat. Childish Gambino’s Break Your Heart Right Back sample of Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out

Ariana Grande‘s My Everything stood out amongst her pop contemporaries as offering something a little more than just infectious melodies and catchy hooks, with production work coming from electronic producers like Cashmere Cat, Zedd, and Key Wane but this Pop Wansel produced track with actor/rapper Childish Gambino came through with a killer sample on the hook.

r120541_20141020_2534762619Logic’s Gang Related sample of Sepalcure’s Carrot Man

Taken from Logic’s much hyped ‘Under Pressure’ LP, Gang Related stands out as one of the album’s more cinematic cuts, a liberal pitched down sample of Sepalcure‘s haunting ‘Carrot Man’ providing the back drop to a tale of sinister nighttime events. Occasional appearances of a pitched down sample of KRS-One‘s ‘Buck, buck, buck, buck, booyakasha’ lifted from 1993’s ‘Mad Crew’ provide a topical lyrical reference whilst a brief news report style interlude mid way through the track wouldn’t sound out of place on any number of early 90s skit-laden hip hop LPs.

r30199_201462_20021799952Die Antwoord’s Ugly Boy sample of Aphex Twin’s Ageispolis

It’s perhaps no coincidence that in a year when Aphex reappeared on the scene and once again hot property, this quirky pop-rap hit chose to borrow from one of Richard James’ early classics. This was a fairly devisive choice on the list, the sample not transformative, but undoubtedly well placed.

r60124_201443_18239689608Joyce Muniz feat. Bam’s Back in the Days sample of Kraftwerk’s It’s More Fun to Compute

Joyce Muniz and Bam come together to revamp Kraftwerk’s brilliant 1981 electronic exploration ‘It’s More Fun To Compute‘ laying down a drum track and bassline under the iconic synth riffs. Not a lot is being changed here but this loop is so enduring it really doesn’t require heavy processing, some catchy spoken word vocals and a minor tweaking are all that’s needed making this track sound just as fresh as ever.

r102119_2014915_155028845729Mac Miller’s Diablo sample of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane’s In a Sentimental Mood

Mac Miller takes it back to more traditional boom bap territory with a well executed sample of Ellington & Coltrane‘s beautiful ‘In a Sentimental Mood’. No marks for originality it has to be said, Asheru and Kweli having utilized the sample in almost identical manner a decade plus prior, but Miller’s a solid lyricist and as a result this track is hard to flaw.

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The Top 10 Most Popular Samples of 2014


2014 has been another great year for sampling and although there has been a serious drought of high profile Hip Hop LPs with notable sample content (unlike previous years), we have seen some huge singles from artists spanning the musical spectrum, with mainstream pop artists brushing shoulders with underground mainstays in this year’s list. Some major players kept themselves fairly quiet (most notably Kanye) in a year that also saw a few more established artists including Wu-Tang, Common, and (as of this week) D’Angelo, resurface. Pop acts like Iggy Azalea, Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj all dropped albums and dominated the radio with massive singles like ‘Fancy‘ and ‘Loyal‘, while stateside we saw the rise of street heroes YG, Migos, Young Thug and ILoveMakonnen alongside a new crop of in demand producers: DJ Mustard, Mike WiLL Made It, and Metro Boomin.

Here follows WhoSampled’s Top 10 ‘Hottest’ samples of 2014, based on the most visited pages on the site throughout the year:

r60124_20141025_22465224852110) Drake’s How Bout Now sample of My Heart Belongs to U by Jodeci

Arriving in a batch of three new Drake tracks put out via the OVO website, ‘How Bout Now’ was the highlight of the drop, taking the smooth hook from a classic Jodeci track and handing it to Boi-1da and Jordan Evans to add some subtle phasing and an addictive beat. ‘6 God‘ also deserves an honourable mention here as it narrowly missed the top 10 but contains one of the coolest samples of a video game we’ve ever heard taking inspiration from SNES Classic Donkey Kong Country 2!

Rickross-thugcry9) Rick Ross feat. Lil Wayne’s Thug Cry sample of Billy Cobham’s Heather

Mastermind came as the first of Rick Ross‘ two albums of 2014 and this track stood out as the biggest of the bunch adding a new hook to a well known sample from Billy Cobham‘s ‘Heather’ (better known as the foundation to Souls of Mischief’s ’93 ’til Infinity’) in a move that 90s Hip Hop purists viewed as close to sacrilege.

BreaktheBankScHoolBoyQ8) ScHoolboy Q’s Break Da Bank sample of Man’s Something Is Happening

Schoolboy’s major label debut Oxymoron dropped this year following the success of his mixtapes, Setbacks and Habits & Contradictions. An ethereal piano flip from The Alchemist just works here and provided one of the highlights of the album. *Side Note* ‘Man of the Year‘ probably would’ve scored fairly highly in our list but it was technically first released in 2013 so couldn’t be included.

r31010_201471_1818538953987) Young Jeezy feat. Jay Z’s Seen It All sample of Tomadoi Twilight by Tazumi Toyoshima

Young Jeezy (or Jeezy as he now prefers to be called) released his album Seen It All: The Autobiography on Def Jam in September and this, the title track with Jay Z, flipping an awesome 70s Japanese flute loop, stood out as the clear highlight.

r3250_20141210_104771293336) J. Cole’s Wet Dreamz sample of Family Circle’s Mariya

Jermaine Cole managed to slip out his latest album 2014 Forest Hills Drive just before the year closed out with minimal fanfare. Serious props deserved here because even though it’s had a late start, this dope sample flip has still made it into our list of the most popular samples of 2014! Make sure to check out our in-depth sample review of the album if you haven’t had the chance yet.

r36624_201487_145573375865) Action Bronson’s Easy Rider sample of Adımız Mıskınder Bızım by Mazhar Ve Fuat

Action Bronson continued his streak of weird and wonderful this year (check the video) with this track sampling one of the more obscure recordings we’ve seen, as flipped by sample professor Party Supplies. Psychedelic guitars and rolling basslines drive the track appearing on his forthcoming Mr. Wonderful LP.

r3250_2014923_452284654304) Kendrick Lamar’s I sample of That Lady by The Isley Brothers

Unfortunately we didn’t see the follow up of 2012’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d City this year but Kendrick did bless us with ‘I’ just in time for summer, which lifts quite liberally from The Isley Brothers classic ‘That Lady‘. Starting out with a straight replay of the original, the track slowly morphs into a more classic Hip-Hop beat with funky a b-line and knocking drums at a tempo quite far removed from that typically appearing on Good Kid.

r60124_2014915_1143183422163) Big Sean feat. E-40’s I Don’t Fuck With You sample of Say You Love Me, One More Time by D. J. Rogers

A firm favorite with many at WhoSampled HQ, this track with an all star cast of Big SeanE-40 on vocals, and Kanye West & DJ Mustard on the buttons was never going to disappoint. Coming with a dope video featuring cameos of the musicians involved playing a game of football (Yeezy as the coach is not to be missed…) this track made waves on Vine as much as it did in the clubs.

r2848_201482_1115407883412) Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda sample of Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot

One of the most divisive tracks to appear on WhoSampled in the past few years came in the unlikely form of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda‘ which acts as a sort of amplified, 2014 version of Sir Mix-a-Lot‘s crass hit ‘Baby Got Back‘. Included on her recently released album The Pinkprint this track’s success can be more than partly put down to its bootylicious video.

r60124_2014811_1652395109661) Drake’s 0 to 100 / the Catch Up sample of Vibez by Adam Feeney and Chester Stone Hansen

In a first since WhoSampled records began (back in 2012…) Kanye has been dethroned by Drake as the most viewed sample page on the website! This sample, actually submitted by Adam Feeney himself (big up!), is a pretty straightforward flip of an instrumental piece from Kingsway Music Library written by Feeney and Chester Stone Hansen of BadBadNotGood. Closing out the track is an emotional loop from an uncredited James Blake which lead to much speculation of an upcoming collaboration (we’ve still got our fingers crossed on that one…). Sparking a series of freestyles from artists like G-Unit and Meek Mill this track signalled a massive year from Drake and his OVO affiliates, especially considering they didn’t even release an album.

Words – Ethan Illingworth (@illersss)

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PRhyme: The Adrian Younge Samples


The star-studded debut album from PRhyme, a collaboration between hip hop hall of famer DJ Premier and Detroit native Royce Da 5’9″, comes among a crop of albums crossing the line in the final moments of 2014 likely to sneak onto best of year lists. Not the first time the pair have joined forces (see early 2000s club bangers ‘Boom’ and ‘My Friend’ and the Axelrod sampling post-jail 2009 come back ‘Shake This’), this is the duo’s first collaborative long player. As well as boasting an enviable list of features, the duo also worked closely on the album with Wax Poetics affiliate Adrian Younge, in essence the third member of the group, Younge’s dynamite back catalog (pun intended) providing the majority of the album’s sample material. This album is the latest in a string of Younge collaborations with heavy hitters from the hip hop community, notably Ghostface Killah in 2013 and Souls of Mischief this year, not to mention being sampled on Jay-Z’s Magna Carta LP last year.

The album’s downtempo opening cut, the title track ‘PRhyme’, reworks Adrian Younge’s ‘Midnight Blue’ to great effect producing a cut indicative of the over all feel of the album. ‘U Looz’ (the video for which was filmed at Younge’s LA record store) opens with rough cut up of ‘Sound of a Man’ from Younge’s Venice Dawn project before changing pace with a sample from the soulful ‘Shot Me in the Heart’ taking center stage for the majority of the track. ‘You Should Know‘ is the only song on the album to feature material from Younge’s 2013 release with The Delfonics, drawing elements from the near psychedelic ‘True Love‘. The album’s lead single ‘Courtesy’ makes incredible use of ‘Tears I Cry’ from the soundtrack from the 2009 film ‘Black Dynamite’ (also scored by Younge), songs from which have previously been sampled by artists including Ab-Soul, Big Remo and Phil Ade.

‘Wishin’ featuring Common boasts another sample from Younge and Venice Dawn’s ‘Sound of a Man’ whilst  ‘To Me, to You’ featuring Jay Electronica takes multiple elements from Younge’s ‘It’s Me’ (also notable for being sampled in Common’s ‘7 Deadly Sins’ earlier this year). The penultimate track, ‘Underground Kings’, which includes features from both Schoolboy Q and Killer Mike who successfully compliment the sample of ‘Thunderstrike’ for one of the harder edged cuts on the album. The album ends with the also harder endged sounds of ‘Microphone Preem‘ in which a sample of ‘Two Hearts Combine‘ is used to solid effect bringing the album to a punchy conclusion.

In terms of the album’s general sound, the classic DJ Premier cut choruses are present (in many cases using vocal snippets from tracks produced by Premier himself) but the general production sound is relatively new territory for Premier. Much in the style of ‘Shake This’, we hear entire sections of the source material lifted rather than intricate chops over those classic Premo drum kit sounds that characterized his productions throughout the early 2000s. This is perhaps a result of the freedoms that come with working closely with the writer of the source material, the open collaboration with Adrian Younge being an excellent example of sampling artists working in synergy with the sampled artist to create a single coherent work. Hopefully this will prove to be a trend which will continue to provide similarly excellent results for hip-hop producers for years to come.

Words – Eddy Spirit (@Eddyspirit

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Top 10 Old School Hip Hop Christmas Classics

As Christmas approaches, it’s time to start dusting off those classic Hip Hop Christmas platters. Here’s our run down of 10 all time classics:

mr1636_2012910_151038858601Lightnin Rich, Big John & The Maniacs – Santa’s Groove (1985)

A classic piece of mid 80s drum machine rap complete with Orch5 stabs. Delivered in first person as if rapped by Santa himself: “Santa Claus is here in the flesh and you best believe he’s totally fresh”.

Xmas_50Showboys – That’s What I Want For Christmas (1987)

Taken from Profile Records classic ‘Christmas Rap’ LP, downtempo drum machine hand claps provide the unlikely backdrop to samples of Bing Crosby‘s ‘White Christmas’. Best known for 1986’s Drag Rap, the track credited with spawning whole movements in Southern Rap, Showboys were flossing back in 87 with a Christmas list that included mansions and yachts.

mr10179_201111_35515402801Coldcut – Coldcut’s Christmas Break (1989)

Not strictly speaking a rap record, but nonetheless in the hip hop cut up tradition of the late 80s, Coldcut apply their then groundbreaking cut and paste techniques to a catalog of Christmas classics and classic breakbeats alike.

mr2_20081010_15047841719De La Soul – Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa (1991)

The least old school of our selections, the decidedly un-festive subject matter characterizes this tale of abusive relationships lifted from De La Soul’s sophomore LP. Classic breakbeats from Funkadelic and Melvin Bliss make up the sample material. Also worthy of mention is The Roots perhaps ever more somber cover version.

r31800_20111121_14114663454Hard Call Xmas – My Christmas Bells (1987)

Taken from the B-Boy Records Christmas record, Hard Call parody LL Cool J‘s 1985 anthem ‘Rock The Bells’ in a Christmas style.

R-570408-1381304277-6911.jpegThe Treacherous Three – Santa’s Rap (1984)

One of the more creative Christmas raps from the era sees LA Sunshine, Kool Moe Dee and Special K exchange bars, Kool Moe Dee playing the role of Santa defending himself in response to the complaints of the other two.

Xmas_50Disco Four – He’s Santa Claus (1987)

Another track taken from Profile’s Christmas Rap LP, this time in funkier, more uptempo territory.

r1636_2014613_145643653313Blondie & Freddie – Yule Town Throwdown (Rapture) (1981)

Blondie enlists the help of fixture of the early New York hip hop scene Fab 5 Freddy for this Christmas themed reprise of her 1980 pop-rap hit ‘Rapture’.

r100_20081127_53145478080Kurtis Blow – Christmas Rappin’ (1979)

Among the first rap records ever released, 1979’s ‘Christmas Rappin’ is the record that gave birth to the Christmas Rap trend and is still a go to party favorite 35 years down the line.

r610_200936_155543592120Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis (1987)

The undisputed champ of Christmas Rap records, this Clarence Carter sampling feel good cut remains a popular classic. Run DMC revisited the theme with 1992’s ‘Christmas Is’ giving the Christmas rap tend an early 90s update. Run returned for a third pass alongside an all star cast including Puff Daddy, Mase, Snoop Dogg & Onyx with 1997’s Fugees sampling ‘Santa Baby’.

Listen to a selection of these tracks and others like them in Chris Read‘s Merry Chrismixx!:

Merry Chrismixx! (World's Greatest Christmas Mix) by Chris Read (Musicofsubstance) on Mixcloud


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D’Angelo: Sample Retrospective Top 5

14 years have passed since D’Angelo dropped his sophomore masterpiece ‘Voodoo’, the critically acclaimed follow up to 1996’s ‘Brown Sugar’. With the exception of occasional features (see collaborations with Dilla & Common, Q-Tip, Snoop & Dre) in the late 2000s, it’s been a near decade and a half since there was any glimmer of a full length offering. And then overnight the world has been blessed with ‘Black Messiah’, and on first listen there’s little to suggest it wasn’t every bit worth the wait. In celebration, we revisit 5 of our favourite D’Angelo appearances and their sample sources:

r4519_2010112_4327411574Method Man feat D’Angelo’s ‘Make Ups to Break Ups’ interpolation of ‘Marvin Gaye’s ‘Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again’

Not the only time D’Angelo and Meth have collaborated (Method Man appeared on ‘Left and Right‘ taken from the Voodoo LP two years later), D’Angelo delivers a catchy hook on this accessible hip hop / RnB joint interpolating Marvin Gaye‘s ‘Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again’.

r551_2009318_191556916128J Dilla feat Common & D’Angelo ‘So Far To Go’ sample of Isley Brothers ‘Don’t Say Goodnight’

This posthumous release from the late great J Dilla (taken from his 2006 BBE LP ‘The Shining’) combines a deft flip of the Isley Brothers mellow classic ‘Don’t Say Goodnight’ with guest vocals from Common and atmospheric hooks drowned in reverse reverb from D’Angelo, in places interpolating Junie Morrison’s ‘Tight Rope’.

r924_2009418_423242342D’Angelo’s ‘Cruisin’ cover of Smokey Robinson’s ‘Cruisin’

Taken from 1995’s ‘Brown Sugar’ LP, D’Angelo makes Robinson‘s 1979 Tamla soul cut his own. Retaining both the tempo, and general feel of the original down to the tambs in the drum track, D’Angelo’s delivery of the vocal is transformative.

r59035_2012921_132613977228D’Angelo ‘Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes Of Mine (Jaydee Remix) sample of Dave Grusin ‘The Colorado Trail’

The second Dilla appearance in our Top 5, this unreleased remix from D’Angelo’s debut LP perfectly encapsulates the Soulquarians sound with a simple but effective Rhodes flip courtesy of Dave Grusin and crisp, snappy snares that characterized Dilla’s productions from the era.

r2929_2010510_122220839926D’Angelo’s ‘Devil’s Pie’ sample of Teddy Pendergrass ‘And If I Had’

Appearing on 2000’s Voodoo, this track first appeared on the 1998 soundtrack to the movie ‘Belly’. A rare R&B production from DJ Premier at a time when his attentions were more focused on Gang Starr material, the track bears all the hall marks of a classic Premo production – bumping drums, cut chorus and a deft chop (in this case of Teddy Pendergrass’s broody Philly Soul cut ‘And If I Had’). Atmospherics grabbed from Michel Colombier and Pierre Henry’s ‘Jericho Jerk’ are the icing on the cake.

Words: Chris Read

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Sam Cooke: 50 Years On – Top 5 Influential Tracks


50 years ago today, Sam Cooke was shot dead in the Hacienda motel in Los Angeles, aged 33. In honour we look back on the lasting impact of his music. Cooke’s songwriting is widely considered to be timeless and has been cited as a major influence by other singer-songwriters as varied as Otis Redding, Rod Stewart and James Blake. Here we present the 5 most influential songs of his career.

chaingang5. Chain Gang (Sampled 12 times, Covered 12 times)

‘Chain Gang’ has proven to be fertile sample material for Mod Sun, long forgotten Jam City signees The U-Gods and DJ Interface. The main vocal hook has been interpolated by A Tribe Called Quest, Funkmaster Flex and Shinehead. The call-and-response pre-chorus can also be found buried amid a sea of reverb-soaked samples in Panda Bear‘s ‘Laughed for a World Filled With Fantasy’.

WonderfulWorld4. Wonderful World (Covered 16 times)

‘Wonderful World’ was first covered by The Supremes, who recorded a tribute album (‘We Remember Sam Cooke’) a mere 6 months after his death. Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry provided a characteristically flamboyant interpretation of the track in 1974. Frequent Sam Cooke re-appropriator Otis Redding covered the track on his 1965 record ‘Otis Blue’, along with 2 other Cooke songs. It was famously immortalised in film in the legendary 1978 frat-house comedy Animal House. 

Bring_it_On_Home_Cooke3. Bring It On Home To Me (Sampled 3 times, Covered 28 times)

‘Bring It On Home’ was covered by both John Lennon and Paul McCartney during their post-Beatles solo careers. It has also found favour with the likes of Van Morrison, UB40 and The Animals.

You_Send_Me_Sam_Cooke2. You Send Me (Covered 26 times)

‘You Send Me’ was one of Cooke’s biggest chart hits, reaching #1 in the US R&B Billboard chart in 1957. At the time it was considered extremely tough for successful songs by black singers to crossover into the main pop charts, ‘You Send Me’ bucked the trend and repeated its success in the main Billboard chart, despite an attempt by his record label to re-release the track, re-recorded by white singer Teresa Brewer. In retrospect ‘You Send Me’ has been seen as pivotal in enforcing positive change in the music industry of the time. The song has been covered by Roy Ayers, Michael Bolton and The Manhattans.

change1. A Change Is Gonna Come (Sampled 22 times, Covered 43 times)

Perhaps Sam Cooke’s best-known song, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ has been inducted into the Grammy hall of fame, and was paraphrased in Barack Obama’s 2008 United States presidential election victory speech. It was covered by The Fugees, Aretha Franklin and The Jackson 5. The lush string arrangement from the intro to the track has been sampled by Nas and DMX whilst the vocal hook has been used by Ghostface Killah and Cam’ron.


Words: Henry Macleod (@airbagmusic)

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