Damon Brown forwarded me a story from the LA Times about one of the sampling mysteries in hip-hop finally getting solved: the bass line of Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones, Pt. II. While listening to the original Herbie Hancock song Jessica, I got chills when I heard . I love these moments. I dabbled for a second in producing my own music, but decided to stay on the side of being a nerd about it. Here are a few of DJ BoyWonder’s favorite sampled songs, with the song that used them (and sometimes a story of how I found them).
In the fall of 1999, I listened to Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides a lot on my disc player during my commute to bookstore job, or on long walks around the neighborhood trying to figure out what the hell was next for me (some things never change). The single from this album was Ms Fat Booty which didn’t get that much general airplay, though I saw the video occasionally on The Box. I might have even ordered it once, because I was weary of watching the Hot Boyz spin donuts in the Wal-mart parking lot to Mannie “I don’t need no samples” Fresh keyboard beats. The liner notes listed Aretha Franklin’s One Step Ahead as the sample, but it wasn’t turning up on any Aretha album I could find. Then one afternoon in a record shop (with Damon!), I found an early edition of her greatest hits, pre-Respect even, and the song was on there. I asked the guy behind the desk to play it for me, I wanted to see how it sounded before I plunked down even $6 or it. Every time I hear this song, I remember the dusty smell and how good it sounded in those store speakers.
Around the same time, Damon and I were also listening constantly to Dr. Dre’s 2001 and one of our favorite tracks, Xxxplosive, said it sampled Bumpy’s Lament, but when we found the track, it didn’t sound right, the organ wasn’t the right sound. At another record store, on another day, Damon pulled from the stacks another version of the song, and we played it on the store record player and had our Goldilocks moment when we knew it was juuuust right.
While on the topics of Dre’s 2001 (and on killer basslines), this Rose Royce song, sampled for Big Egos, is one of my favorite break-up songs of all time, striking that triangle with such precision and giving us proper pathos each time it does. Her voice just kills me, I love a singer who takes it to the edge of breaking.
I don’t want to leave us on too sad of a note, but I like this slowed down late night vibe, so we’ll close out this set of samples with a Charmels’ song favored by the RZA, and it’s my favorite kind of youtube video: the nerd recording their vinyl spinning.