The pride of Palm Springs, CA, DJ Day is an ever reliable craftsman; a producer whose track record of sublime sample-based instrumentals and unofficial remixes has made him a favorite of tastemakers like Gilles Peterson and discerning party people across the planet. Day’s latest project, Land of 1000 Chances, finds his prodigious MPC pad-playing dedicated to a creative space where breeziness meets melancholia somewhere in the SoCal desert. It’s an effectively subtle, refreshingly untrendy concoction. One that inspired us to ask this veterano for a list of his favorite sample flips.
CLICK THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE TO CHECK OUT DAY’S FAVORITE SAMPLE FLIPS
1. Gang Starr - "The ? Remainz" (Chrysalis, 1994)
Producer: DJ Premier
Sample Source: Bob James “Look Alike” (Union Square, 1979)
Day: Trying to pick a favorite Preemo beat is like trying to pick a favorite child. Dude has single-handedly done more for the art of flipping samples than any other producer I can think of. This one stands out in particular for how far ahead of its time it was for 1994. Some people (read: if you’re old as hell) might remember this was also used by Kwamé for “The Rhythm,” but if it’s one thing Premier has proven time and time again is that he doesn’t hear music like normal human beings. I would have never thought to do what he did.
2. Organized Konfusion - "Why" (Hollywood BASIC, 1994)
Producer: Organized Konfusion
Sample Sources: Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger & the Trinity – “Light My Fire” (Atco, 1969); Motherlode – “Soft Shell” (Buddah, 1969)
Day: I’m a fan of loops. Let’s just get that shit outta the way right now. I searched high and low for that Brian Auger record, hoping the vibe of that sample was extended on the record. I spent way too much dough and found that it wasn’t much more than what they took, but that’s what we do. Search the shit out and see if there’s more where that came from. There’s an art to finding good loops.
3. The Beatnuts - "Let Off A Couple" (Relativity, 1994)
Producer: The Beatnuts
Sample Source: Monty Alexander – “Love And Happiness” (MPS, 1974)
Day: Damn, J.Rocc beat me to this one, but fuggit. This is another prime example of only needing a good loop. I remember I was whylin’ out pretty heavy when this album dropped. My roommate at the time was a dude from NY and he would play this record. Every. Single. Day. (And stick people up at night, but that’s another story…) It was years later that I found out they didn’t do anything but loop this. Still good to this day and proof positive that sometimes one sample is all you need.
4. O.C. - "Point of Viewz" (Wild Pitch, 1994)
Producers: Buckwild, Prestige
Sample Soure: Roy Ayers – “Searching (Live)” (Music Club, 1994; recorded 1988)
Day: For as many people who have touched that sample, no one comes close to what Buckwild and Prestige did with this one. I’m still not even convinced that’s the OG! [Ed: it's not, actually - it's a version off a UK-only LP, Live at Ronnie Scott's.]
5. People Under the Stairs - "O.S.T." (OM, 2002)
Producer: Thes One
Sample Source: Black Sugar – “Pussycat” (Sono Radio, 1971)
Day: Long before I knew old Thester, I was a fan of PUTS and this album in particular. As the story goes, Thes came back from a trip to Peru and brought the Black Sugar album back with him. Securing his place in the annals of record nerdery as the guy responsible for breaking this record in the U.S. I ended up buying the Black Sugar II LP on the strength. That one’s not so tite.
6. Freestyle Fellowship - "7th Seal" (Sun Music, 1991)
Producer: Mikah Nine
Sample Source: George Duke and Billy Cobham – “Almustafa The Beloved” (Atlantic, 1976)
Day: To Whom It May Concern was a big record out here. Freestyle Fellowship had something of a cult following and this was probably the biggest cut off that album. This was another one of those “Oh shit!” moments when I found the OG going through my records. I think Diamond used something off this album for Stunt, Blunts & Hip-Hop too.
7. KMD - "Plumskinzz" (Elektra, 1991)
Sample Sources: Bobby Humphrey – “Blacks and Blues” (Blue Note, 1974); Little Richard – “The Rill Thing” (Reprise, 1970)
Day: Another one that’s been touched to death, but this will always be numero uno in my book. This beat probably did more to influence my own production than I ever realized. It’s one of the earliest flips I know of that used multiple parts of a song to give the beat some changes and movement (the remix to Edo.G’s “Be A Father To Your Child” that same year also comes to mind). They were like, “fuck taking one bar, we’re taking four.” Before I knew what the sample was or even how to make beats, that shit was mystifying to me.
8. DJ Shadow - "In/Flux (Alternative Interlude '93 Remix)" (Mo Wax, 1994)
Producer: DJ Shadow
Sample Source: Stanley Clarke – “Concerto For Jazz/Rock Orchestra” (Nemperor, 1975)
Day: The first time I heard Shadow was on “The Militant Master Mix” with Michael Mixxin’ Moore on college radio in the early ’90s. My friends and I used to trade tapes from the show and one particular set was Shadow playing his own production before anyone knew who he was. Right in the middle of one of the songs – BOOM “breakdown, baby” – this crazy, spaced out beat drops. We – probably high on some stress – rewound that part until the tape busted. That whole song is bonkers.
9. J Dilla - "Heroin Joint" (2010)
Producer: J Dilla
Sample Source: James Brown – “King Heroin” (Polydor, 1972)
Day: It was pretty much impossible to choose one Dilla cut. There are literally dozens to choose from, but this particular beat has always stuck with me. The man was a genius no question.
10. Pete Rock and CL Smooth - "One In A Million" (Epic, 1993)
Producer: Pete Rock
Sample Source: Brother Jack McDuff – “Theme From Electric Surfboard” (Cadet, 1969)
Day: One thing you could count on in the 90′s was a solid cut or 2 on movie soundtracks. Strictly Business had [Grand Puba's] “Fat Rat,” Above the Rim had [Daz's] “Big Pimpin’” (and a grrrrrip of others), and Poetic Justice had “One In A Million.” This got major run back in the day. I didn’t find out what the source was until years later when the Dusty Fingers [compilations] dropped. No shame in my game.