Posted on June 26 2018
Being that we are a company that specializes in making authentic, royalty-free samples, it should go without saying that we are obsessed with the art of sampling! Check out one of our latest podcast episodes on sampling! In our journey as producers, each of us have come across a beat with a sample flip that has blown us away. For this edition of Staff Picks, I asked each member of the team which sample flip in particular was their favorite. In no particular order, here are our top 5 sample flips!
“Represent” - Nas // “Thief Of Baghdad” - Lee Erwin
If we’re being honest, DJ Premier (the producer of “Represent”) has shown us way more impressive sampling techniques in his legendary career. “Represent”, however, makes the list because of how unexpected the sample is. In the 90’s, Primo was on a run flipping samples that the average beatmaker would have probably would have moved to the back of the crate. Some of these include “Come Clean” by Jeru Da Damaja, “Mass Appeal” by Gang Starr, and “Livin’ Proof” by Group Home. “Represent” definitely takes the cake for being the most exotic. “Thief Of Baghdad” appears on an LP called “Sound Of Silents - Music For Silent Film Classics” by Lee Erwin, released in 1974. This music was made to be used in silent films! Who would’ve guessed that it would end up as a sample on arguably the greatest hip hop album of all time? This sample flip is simply a loop starting at the 0:54 mark of “Thief Of Baghdad”. Primo cues this eerie vibe over a dusty drum break from George Clinton’s “I Didn’t Come Rhythm”. The vibe is undeniable. Nas delivers a classic performance and flow that has stood the test of time. Anytime I put on “Represent” I feel like I’m driving through housing projects in NYC.
“DUCKWORTH” - Kendrick Lamar // “Be Ever Wonderful” - Ted Taylor, “Ostavi Trag” - September, “Atari” - Hiatus Kaiyote
When Kendrick dropped his critically acclaimed (dare I say, already classic?) “DAMN”, it was closed out by the masterful beat by “9th Wonder” containing multiple sample flips and tempo changes. Duckworth originally was a sampler of beats that 9th sent to other artists and Kendrick ended up wanting multiple beats and samples that he heard from 9th allowing him to compile it into the track we hear today. Kendrick tells one of the most captivating personal hip-hop stories while being backed by a barrage of beat switch ups and sample chops that weave back and forth through the story. 9th did some great crate digging for this one even bringing in new sample worthy vibes from the current and very relevant soul band, Hiatus Kaiyote. The chemistry is undeniable between these two and it certainly is a sampling clinic worth paying attention to for anyone who loves a good old sample flip.
“Walk Around”- Ghostface Killah // “Packed Up and Took My Mind”- Little Milton
There’s nothing like finding a good moment on a record to loop and “sitting in that pocket” the whole song. “Walk Around” is beautifully cut, by producer Anthony Acid, to give that old soul feel that makes the track feel like musicians are essentially playing the song throughout. A good rule of thumb for us when it comes to sampling is that if you can make it sound like musicians are really playing the moments instead of just chopped up moments, then you’ve achieved some goodness! Ghostface is always an entertaining character on the mic and he holds nothing back in the story he tells on this track full of as much soul as the backing musical accompaniment. One thing we love is how this track rides and than takes pauses for the soulful voice of Little Milton to be heard behind Ghostface’s captivating monologues.
“Circles”- The Game // “Montara” Bobby Hutcherson
The second half of this track is what caught our attention with features from the likes of Q-tip, Eric Bellinger and Sha Sha. A cool jazzy trumpet loop graces the track making for a face turning track switch up that perfectly has all the feels. The great thing about this sample is that it shows how good the loop is. The original isn’t much different at all from the sampled track as the original track “Montara” consist of the band soloing over the same progression looped. This compositional sweet spot was a no brainer for producer “Bongo the Drum Gahd” to snatch and pitch up a couple steps to sit over some gritty yet grooving drums.
“Luchini AKA This is it”- Camp Lo // “Adventures in the Land of Music”- Dynasty
Producer Ski gives us one of the most memorable sample flips with this song. The horns are dynamic and anthemic in this sample giving us a track that can seemingly go forever on repeat. A perfect cypher song that seems to have no beginning or end. The original is a classic late 70’s early 80’s arrangement, from the group Dynasty, of super musical gang vocal performances with really big instrumentation from horns, to electric pianos, synths, strings and more. Using the musical magic of the original “Adventures in the Land of Music” was a sure fire way to give us a perfect sample flip.
One of the best ways to perfect the craft of sampling is to take notes from records that you like. Use the tracks as teaching material and mimic the greats. Most of all be free and be original, sampling in itself is an art form that changed everything with an outside the box approach to music making. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope, take risks as true innovation depends on it.