Top 10 Samples in Hip-Hop History #1

Track 1

Go for Your Guns

T-Neck 1977

The Isley Brothers – “Footsteps In The Dark Pts I & II”

Written by Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley, O’Kelly Isley, and Chris Jasper. By late 1976, The Isley Brothers are in the middle of a string of Gold and Platinum selling albums beginning with 1973’s “3 + 3”, the first album to fully feature and credit younger brothers Ernie and Marvin Isley, and brother in law Chris Jasper (Rudolph is married to Jasper’s sister Elaine). All three are still in college when they join the band in 1971. Ernie, Marvin and Chris will prove to be the major creative force behind The Isley Brothers huge success during the 70’s and into the early 80’s. For their fifteenth studio album “Go For Your Guns”, the band will take full control of the production in the studio, having been assisted by co-producers Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil (Stevie Wonder, Devo) for their first four albums released on their CBS Records distributed T-Neck label. One of the stand out tracks on “Guns” is the mid-tempo ballad “Footsteps In The Dark”, written during sessions for the album recorded at Bearsville Studio in near Woodstock, NY. When “Go For Your Guns” is released in March of 1977, “Footsteps” is quickly singled out for heavy play by R&B radio programmers and becomes a fan favorite. In spite of this, it is not among the three singles released from album. Though it eventually surfaces as the B-side of “Groove With You” (#16 R&B) in June of 1978. “Footsteps In The Dark” becomes a staple of the Isleys live peformances as well as a fixture on R&B oldies and Quiet Storm radio stations throughout the 80’s and beyond. The song becomes one of the bands’ most sampled tracks, beginning with Compton’s Most Wanted on the track “Can I Kill It” in 1991. Ice Cube will score a huge hit with “It Was Good Day” in 1993, prominently sampling it on the original version of the song. Several other rappers and R&B artists including J. Dilla, Usher, k-os, Alicia Keys and Raheem DeVaughn all sampling the R&B classic.

The Isley Brothers – Footsteps in the Dark Ice Cube – Today Was A Good Day
Description Description

The Predator

Priority 1992

Ice Cube – “It Was A Good Day”

Written by O’Shea Jackson. Following his departure from seminal rap group N.W.A. at the end of 1989, Ice Cube’s solo career will hit the ground running with the classic album “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, quickly following them up with equally excellent “Kill At Will” EP and his second full length release “Death Certificate”. Riding high on those hits, Cube will reflect on how far he has come and having achieved major success, in juxtaposition with the state of his childhood home of South Central Los Angeles in the wake of the 1992 riots. Writing lyrics down in a notebook, they will form the basis of what will become “It Was A Good Day”. Cube will record a demo in his home studio, and playing it for co-producer DJ Pooh before they go into the recording studio. While working on the track, Cube suggests to Pooh that they sample The Isley Brothers classic “Footsteps In The Dark” as the basis for the song. Pooh will use that, augmenting it with additional bass and drum programming, and a sample of The Moments hit “Sexy Mama”. Issued as the second single from Ice Cube’s third album “The Predator” on February 23, 1993, it quickly becomes his biggest hit to date. Bolstered by a frequently aired music video directed by F. Gary Gray (“Friday”, “The Italian Job”), “It Was A Good Day” will top the Billboard Rap Singles chart for one week on April 24, 1993, peaking at #7 on the R&B singles chart, and #15 on the Hot 100. “It Was A Good Day” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Track 2

Come and Get Yourself Some

20th Century 1975

Leon Haywood – “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You”

Written and produced by Leon Haywood. By the mid 70’s, with more than a decade of top 20 R&B hits for various labels, Texas born singer, songwriter and musician Leon Haywood will find his greatest success as an artist when he signs with 20th Century Records in 1973. “Come And Get Yourself Some”, his third album for the label released in 1975, will give Haywood his biggest hit to date. The ultra sexy and funky “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” features plethora of great L.A. studio musicians including Crusaders members Joe Sample (piano) and Wilton Felder (bass), Ray Parker, Jr., Dean Parks, David T. Walker (guitars), Gary Coleman (vibes, percussion) (father of Prince & The Revolution keyboardist Lisa Coleman), and Bobbye Hall (percussion). Haywood will also enlist the services of legendary arranger Gene Page, best known for his work with Barry White and Jackson 5, to write the rhythm, horn and string arrangements for the song. Clocking in at nearly six minutes in its entirety, it is edited down to under four minutes and issued as the second single from “Come And Get Yourself Some” in August of 1975. “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” quickly becomes an R&B smash before crossing over to the pop singles chart, peaking at #7 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and #15 on the Hot 100. Over seventeen years later, it will become an even bigger hit in sample form when it becomes the basis of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s hip hop classic “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” (#1 R&B, #2 Pop) in March of 1993. Since then, “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” has been sampled or interpolated by more than thirty artists including 50 Cent, Aaliyah, Redman, Masta Ace, Mariah Carey, Maxwell, Public Enemy, and Twista.

Leon Haywood – “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg – “Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang”
Description Description

The Chronic

Death Row 1992

Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg – “Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang”

Written by Andre Young and Calvin Broadus. After leaving iconic rap group N.W.A. in late 1991, Dr. Dre will establish Death Row Records with Suge Knight. During this time, Dre will hear a demo tape by his step brother Warren G’s group 213 which features Warren and high school friends Calvin Broadus and Nathan Hale (aka Snoop Doggy Dogg and Nate Dogg). Impressed with Snoop’s talents as an MC and lyricist, Dre will invite the then twenty year old rapper to work with him. The pairs’ first collaboration is the title track from the film “Deep Cover” released in early 1992. The major buzz that single generates will prime fans for what will come later that year. While working on material for his first solo album “The Chronic”, Dr. Dre will hit upon the idea of sampling R&B musician Leon Haywood’s 1975 hit “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You”. Hearing the track, Snoop will fall in with the hook “nuthin’ but a ‘g’ thang, baby”, with the rest of the lyrics being penned quickly. Released just one month ahead of “The Chronic” in November of 1992, the impact of “‘G’ Thang” will be immediately felt in the hip hop community. An instant classic, the song is not only a huge hit on the rap and R&B charts (#1 on both charts), but makes a fast crossover to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #2 in March of 1993. The Platinum selling “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” will be regarded as one of the greatest rap singles of all time, being acknowledged by The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame as one the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll, as well as being ranked at #419 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Track 3

Black Caesar OST

Polydor 1973

James Brown – “Blind Man Can See It”

James Brown – “Blind Man Can See It”, written by James Brown, Charles Bobbit, and Fred Wesley – In 1972, James Brown is approached by film director and producer Larry Cohen to write the score to his film “Black Caesar”, a blaxploition era remake of the classic 1930’s gangster movie “Little Caesar”, with the new version featuring Fred “The Hammer” Williamson in the title role. Brown will go to work on the soundtrack without actually seeing a cut of the film first, collaborating mostly with trombonist and JB’s musical director Fred Wesley. Brown’s manager and sometime songwriting partner Charles Bobbit will see the film as a work in progress and describe the action to Brown and Wesley, who in turn write the music around those descriptions. The instrumental track “Blind Man Can See It” is one of several music cues used on the soundtrack of the “Black Caesar” soundtrack. Originally only two minutes and eighteen seconds on the original LP, the full unedited take of the song (running over seven minutes) will appear as a bonus track on the 2003 CD reissue of the excellent JB compilation album “In The Jungle Groove”, originally released in 1986. “Blind Man” will become another of James Brown’s most frequently sampled songs, most notably by Das EFX on their debut hit “They Want EFX”, Lord Finesse and DJ Mike Smooth’s “Funky Technician”, and Antoinette and Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s “Never Get Enough”.

James Brown – “Blind Man Can See It” Das EFX – “They Want EFX”
Description Description

Dead Serious

EastWest 1992

Das EFX – “They Want EFX”

Written by Andre Weston, William Hines, James Brown, Charles Bobbit, and Fred Wesley. The debut single from the rap duo, the original version version of the track that appears on their first album “Dead Serious” features samples of James Brown’s “Blind Man Can See It” and Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals”. The popular remix version includes a whole other set of samples over Drayz and Skoob’s vocals including Quincy Jones’ “Body Heat”, and James Brown’s “Funky President (People It’s Bad)”. Issued as a single on March 5, 1992, “EFX” is an immediate hit at street level, scoring even significant mainstream R&B and Top 40 crossover play. “They Want EFX” will hit number one on the Billboard Rap Singles chart, number five on the R&B singles chart, number 25 on the Hot 100. The major success of “They Want EFX” will send the “Dead Serious” album to the top of the Billboard R&B album chart spending five weeks on top (interrupting Kris Kross’ seven week stint at number one, number sixteen on the Top 200, being certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.





Track 4

sleep in the sink climb the curtains attack, give me fish.

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