Plain and simple, Damu The Fudgemunk is about that boom-bap – albeit in its most meticulously-sculpted form. With the ’90s classics of Pete Rock, ATCQ and D.I.T.C. providing inspiration, the Washington D.C.-bred production wizard’s been deftly mining the traditional sounds of rap’s Northeast corridor since his impressive ’06 album-length collab with Insight as Y Society, Travel at Your Own Pace . The years since have seen Damu releasing acclaimed efforts like his “When Winter Comes” single with Buff1 and Supply For Demand LP via his own Redefinition Records label (an outpost whose output really ought to be issued with mandatory neck braces). And while boom-bap may not be the prevailing trend these days, any self-respecting rap listener need only hear how Damu ingeniously reconfigures a classic Suzanne Vega vocal on his great “Bright Side (Remix)” instrumental to appreciate his prodigious skill with sample flips. Here, Damu chooses not 10, not 15, but 20(!) of his favorites. (He’s also put ’em all together in a special commemorative mix. Peep it, HERE .)
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(For more on Damu The Fudgemunk, please visit www.redefinitionrecords.com .)
1. Beastie Boys — "Root Down" (Grand Royal, 1994)
Producer: Beastie Boys
Sample Source: Jimmy Smith – “Root Down” (Verve, 1972)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Ya know there are many classics under the group’s belt. I love their music and they’re one of my favorite groups period. I could talk about a number of songs like “Intergalactic,” “Flute Loop,” “So What’cha Want,” and “Pass the Mic.” They have done amazing and creative records that can’t be duplicated. They all are record/beat guys. I really appreciate them. Gotta give props to Mario C, too. “Root Down” is great because of the editing and selections of the Jimmy Smith groove that were chosen. The Beasties were masters of several machines of their era. They rocked the loops here, but the arrangement is perfect and the feel of the record is very live. They didn’t have the advantage of today’s non-existent time/editing limitations for sampling then, and I still listen to this song now wondering how they constructed it.
2. Beastie Boys ft. Q-Tip — "Get it Together" (Grand Royal, 1994)
Producer: Beastie Boys
Sample Sources: The Moog Machine – “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (Columbia, 1969); Eugene McDaniel – “Headless Heroes” (Atlantic, 1971)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Another creative piece during this era. To choose a sample like the Moog Machine wasn’t the obvious source back then. The sample selection is definitely ahead of its time. Mike D is responsible for this beat. The place where he caught the sample (a 1-bar loop) is unique, not to mention the dissonance of textures. Adding the Eugene McDaniels was a great sampling idea. The identity of both the OG artist and the sampling artists is solidified in history with this cut.
3. Black Moon – "Who Got Da Props" (Nervous, 1992)
Producer: Da Beatminerz
Sample Source: Ronnie Laws – “Tidal Wave” (Blue Note, 1975)
Damu The Fudgemunk: No crazy chopping, but it’s flipped because of the idea they had in mind. Da Beatminerz took the 1 bar section then looped a half for 3 bars and closed with the second half on the 4th measure. That’s not how it goes in the OG song. Good choices on drums. They filtered the low end of one break, adding the high/mid-frequencies of another. The second break they used was a great catch on the hi-hat to snare transition (in the pattern) because they decided not to use the snare with the open hi-hat in it.
4. Craig G — "U-R-Not the 1" (Atlantic, 1991)
Producer: Marley Marl
Sample Sources: The Honeydrippers – “Impeach the President” (Alaga, 1973); Gwen McCrae – “Funky Sensation” (Atlantic, 1981)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Marley Marl at his best. Marley is one of the gods in beatmaking. Every producer owes him props, whether they admit it or not. He’s credited as being the first to rock “Impeach the President.” I owe him for that discovery because that is one of my favorite drums. (I can’t use them as often as I’d like to.) By this time, Marley was already a veteran for a number of years and in the elite tier of music producers. Having used “Impeach” several instances before, this is probably my favorite use of it from Marley. The Gwen McCrae is a party/disco classic. He did a great job fusing boom bap and a party vibe. The bassline, the string stabs and the 8th note piano riffs (a predecessor to Mary J Blige’s “Real Love”) is an all around dope mix of samples and keyboards. Love this song! I rock doubles of this in the crib all the time. Another cat who appreciates this record is my man Quartermaine.
5. Main Source — "Just Hangin' Out" (Wild Pitch, 1991)
Producer: Main Source
Sample Sources: Gwen McCrae – “90% of Me Is You” (Cat, 1974); Sister Nancy – “Bam Bam” (Techniques, 1982)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Too much to say about the Main Source [Breakin’] Atoms LP. So many advanced techniques on display there. Every beat is noteworthy. I choose this because of the editing. This was very advanced for the time period. Producers were still in the discovery phase of artists to sample and techniques/possibilities on their machines of choice. Great ideas came out of this time that paved way for the 2000’s. If you play the original record, you’ll notice there’s no clean loop without a vocal bit. This is an early display of a chop and re-splice. The result was seamless. I have to mention all the other elements included. You have the blues/rock, soul/funk, reggae/dance hall, all in one. The Sister Nancy is a perfect blend. This is the sign of a DJ’s mind. Excellent sampling/flipping was also executed for the remix. Way to catch those records, guys!
6. Compton's Most Wanted — "I'm Wit Dat" (Orpheus, 1990)
Producer: DJ Slip, The Unknown D
Sample Source: Isaac Hayes – “Joy” (Enterprise, 1973)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Love the Issac Hayes “Joy” [sample]. That record is genius. The groove is perfect for hip-hop. I love all the hip-hop songs that have sampled it over the years. Produced by Unknown and DJ Slip who performed quality construction of “hooking a beat up and converting it into hip-hop form.” They extracted the main line, got the dope Roland sounding drumbeats on top, and layer in various pieces of “Joy” to climax throughout. I like the use of the drum muting. If you ain’t up on this, get It’s a Compton Thang . For another dope use of the Gwen McCrae, check “Hood Took Me Under” from CMW’s second LP, which also features an Isaac Hayes flip.
7. Ultramagnetic MC's — "Give the Drummer Some" (Next Plateau, 1988)
Producer: Paul C
Sample Source: Dee Felice Trio – “There Was a Time” (Bethlehem, 1969)
Damu The Fudgemunk: The beat is a sampling masterpiece. Props to Paul C (RIP). Him and Ced are big influences. The use of the James Brown/Dee Felice sample is ahead of its time. The record is a classic. Originally their use of the James Brown sample was a mystery. Who would’ve thought to pan a record for drums back then? Paul was an engineer first, so his approach to listening to recordings was not average. So many techniques used here that shaped production for years to come. This beat is a blueprint of sorts. The drums were chopped! Samples chopped! Peep the snare work at the end. So many artists sampled this record instead of sampling the JB original. There’s echoing on the guitar chops. [ Note: This is before the ’90s when echoing/delays on sounds was a staple — only a handful of people were doing that. People that come to mind are Marley (see “Ain’t No Half Steppin'”), Ced Gee, 45 King (“Flavor Unit Assassination Squad” Remix) and Louie Louie (who deserves a ton of props). And before them you have your dub reggae producers (Tubby, Sly & Robbie, Scientist). Here are early technical examples of editing/chopping, equalization techniques and echoing a few years before more great producers would arrive to push the envelope. Shout out to the SP-1200 holding it down.
8. Ultramagnetic MC's — "Ced Gee (Delta Force One)" (Next Plateau, 1988)
Producer: Ced Gee
Sample Source: Bob James – “Nautilus” (CTI, 1974)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Yo, I LOVE this record. I love it so much, if I ever met Ced Gee, I’d give him a hug. I know every word to this joint. “My rhymes a slingshot and yes they triumph/ Over the weak minds who claim they’re giants/ I’m more defiant/ While your relying… On!”) The Holy Grail of samples, “Nautilus,” is flipped here. Now this is probably around ’87. I was 3 when this came out, so I had no clue who Ultramag was, but did homework as a teen. Ced did some amazing mind-blowing stuff on this debut. “Delta Force” shows an uncommon portion of “Nautilus” for the main loop. The basic idea of this beat is a predecessor to some hip-hop styles of the early 2000s (see Just Blaze’s “Pump It Up” and other works). Note his use of the delay technique on the SP. He truncated the drum sounds from the same record and created a new pattern. I could go on, haha. Another dope use of “Nautilus” by Ced is “Bait” from Red Alert Goes Berserk .
9. Stereo MC's — "Lost in Music" (4th & B'way, 1990)
Producer: Stereo MC’s
Sample Source: Grover Washington Jr. – “Mister Magic” (Kudu, 1975)
Damu The Fudgemunk: It’s just a loop, but they rocked it. “Mister Magic” had been sampled previously, but they took the unused loop from the middle of the song with a consistent theme that happens to be about 10 minutes long. This is a dope song with meaningful, poetic lyrics (“Come back a virtuoso of the curtain call… “). I listen to “Mister Magic” anticipating their loop. It was a good catch in the record. The pattern switches swapping kick for snare and in addition to the popular rift, it features part of the string arrangement that appears throughout. They sped it up. too. Stereo MC’s made some great music during this period. Their album Connected features stellar sampling. Go check them. Dope UK hip-hop.
10. Eric B. & Rakim — "Follow the Leader " (Uni, 1988)
Producer: Eric B. & Rakim
Sample Source: Bob James – “Nautilus” (CTI, 1974)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Another use of “Nautilus,” but it’s not the focal point of the song. The bassline/break vamp as main loop. The idea to EQ/ layer the Bob James to introduce throughout is genius for ’88. So much more can be said about what Rakim did lyrically. The use of “Nautilus” is unconventional for the time. Well produced overall. The flanger effect creates a different atmosphere to compliment the lyrical subject matter. The strings sound like jets. This song changed a lot of people’s lives.
11. Black Star – "K.O.S. (Determination)" (Rawkus, 1998)
Sample Source: Minnie Riperton – “Baby This Love I Have” (Epic, 1975)
Damu The Fudgemunk: The Minnie Riperton sample was already iconic for Tribe. Hi-Tek gets major props for this flip. It sounds like he had the master to get the instro of the song without the vocals. You can hear how he applied what he learned from other producers over the years to achieve the results of this song. The sample editing/chopping is superb. An exceptional use of mixing techniques to give the chops fluidity of the original source. I can respect artists who maintain the integrity of the artists they sample. I strive to do the same. That beat is one for the history books.
12. Gang Starr — "Gotch U" (Wild Pitch, 1989)
Producer: DJ Premier, Guru
Sample Sources: James Brown – “Give It Up Or Turnit a Loose (Remix)” (Polydor, 1986); James Brown – “Get Up Get Into It Get Involved” (King, 1970); “I Got You (I Feel Good)” (King, 1965)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Gang Starr/Premier are kings of flipping records. This track comes from their debut. It is years before DJ Premier was Preemo and leader of chopping records. I listen to this record in awe and think to myself, “How did he think of that?” That’s an idea I wish I had come up with. The idea to take a vocal bit from JB’s upbeat love song (“I Feel Good”) is brilliant. James was the go-to-guy for samples in this day. “Gotch U” features exclusively his music. The guitar riff is separated and resequenced. Premier heard that back then! As much as I love the OG of “Get Up, Get Into It” and other artists who have sampled it, this is my favorite use of it.
13. Jeru the Damaja — "Mind Spray" (Payday, 1994)
Producer: DJ Premier
Sample Source: Bob James – “Nautilus” (CTI, 1974)
Damu The Fudgemunk: I love Jeru. I love Premier. The Sun Rises [in the East] and Wrath [of the Math] changed my life. I looked up to Jeru. My name was influenced by Jeru. I could talk about “Playing Ya Self” or “Come Clean,” but “Mind Spray” is really sentimental. Simple but excellent approach to “Nautilus.” You know immediately what it is, but the new drum swing changes the vibe. For Premier to hear the 2-note stab and sequence/layer that over the main 1-bar loop is inspiring. Before I knew “Nautilus,” I knew “Mind Spray.” Sampling the “Come Clean” for the chorus sets off the song. As soon as the beat drops you hear “My my mind. My my mind…” I spent hours practicing those scratches. I remade the beat about 10 years ago. I probably have it recorded somewhere.
14. A Tribe Called Quest — "Get a Hold" (Jive, 1996)
Producer: The Ummah
Sample Source: The Cyrkle – (Columbia, 1967)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Many consider Dilla the greatest. This is rookie year Dilla AKA Jay Dee. The vibe is consistent. The arranging/ programming isn’t too flashy. The use of the sample is special. I have to give Q-Tip and Ali credit for putting him on and recognizing talent. That is an unselfish gesture. With beats/ideas like “Get a Hold,” it’s easy to understand why they gave Jay Dee the opportunity. The choice of samples is significant. The sample flip is significant. Only a certain mind would hear what Dilla heard. This is one my personal favorites as I prefer this style over his later more experimental work. It’s great use of filtering/ EQ-ing and not letting vocals in a song create limitations. The vocals are a part of the main beat. This was a standout from that LP. Tribe is responsible for some great flips on all of their releases. The production on their whole discography was always ahead of the times by a couple years.
15. Dr. Dre — "Let Me Ride" (Death Row, 1992)
Producer: Dr. Dre
Sample Source: Parliament – “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” (Casablanca, 1975)
Damu The Fudgemunk: The G Funk Era at the peak. This was a single. I remember how big The Chronic was. I might have been in 2nd or 3rd grade. I had no interest in making music then. The album has stood the test of time. The music never got old. I can really appreciate what Dre did as a producer even before The Chronic . It is crazy how this record blew him up into the mogul he is now, but I’m a fan of the Ruthless stuff, too. Dre got real busy on “Let Me Ride.” All the Parliament samples. This is an excellent blend of loops. The Bill Withers drum choice with EQ /gate is perfect. He’s always been a master engineer. All producers should study the Doc.
HONORABLE MENTION #1: Gravediggaz — "Deathtrap" (Gee Street, 1994)
Producer: Prince Paul
Sample Source: The Whole Darn Family – “Seven Minutes of Funk” (Soul International, 1976)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Prince Paul did an excellent job of using “Seven Minutes of Funk.” Filtered one bar for the bass and EQ’d the layers throughout. He switched up the feel for sure. I forget that it’s the sample sometimes.
HONORABLE MENTION #2: Heavy D & the Boyz — "It's a New Day" (Uptown, 1992)
Producer: Pete Rock
Sample Source: Skull Snaps – “It’s a New Day” (GSF, 1973)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Use of Skull Snaps is advanced and way ahead of it’s time. There wasn’t much seamless manipulation of drums in ’92. You wouldn’t see that for another couple years. The only other producers I can think of is Q-Tip and Showbiz who perfected this technique back then. He was the king. Here, a young Pete Rock shows his chops (no pun intended) and does a clean reformat of the Ultimate Break -beat staple. He wouldn’t revisit and frequently use this skill until after the mid ’90s.
HONORABLE MENTION #3: Redman — "Tonight's da Night" (RAL, 1992)
Producer: Erick Sermon, Redman
Sample Source: Isaac Hayes – “A Few More Kisses To Go” (Polydor, 1979)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Simple loop, but genius idea to hear — speeding up Issac Hayes. It’s the perfect loop to rap and get busy on.
HONORABLE MENTION #4: Above the Law — "Just Kickin' Lyrics" (Ruthless, 1990)
Producer: Above the Law, Dr. Dre, Laylaw
Sample Source: Isaac Hayes – “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic” (Enterprise, 1969)
Damu The Fudgemunk: Not manipulated much, but good use of sample time and planning/arrangement. The Hot Buttered [Soul] LP was heavily sampled at this time. I like where they caught record sequenced the bits. The Joe Tex is a nice touch. Good truncation too. Notice the use of sleigh bells.
HONORABLE MENTION #5: Lords of the Underground — “Lord Jazz Hit Me One Time (Make it Funky)” (Pendulum, 1993)
Sample Source: Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – “Peace Go With You, Brother (As-Salaam-Alaikum)” (Strata East, 1974)
Damu The Fudgemunk: This album was from K-Def’s rookie year. L.O.T.U.G. was huge with “Chief Rocka” (a masterpiece) and their debut was successful. This song was also a single with a real live video. When I originally discovered the Gil Scott record, I had to give it up to K for flipping the sample. The original section of the sample did not really follow a set time signature so they only way to use this is to chop it. The edit technique he applied was uncommon back then as it was more about loops. This beat is an example of a forward thinking producer challenging the norm.