DJ Format has long been revered as one of the UK underground’s finest hip-hop producers and turntable technicians, in a career that’s spanned acclaimed mixtapes, remixes, and his own super-def and deftly constructed cut-and-paste productions. While “Golden Era” hip-hop may be an obvious inspiration for his works, in recent years with his great Moog synth-fueled Simonsound project – co-helmed by friend, Simon James – Format has proven equally adept at translating his b-boy-centric fast rap tracks to sound library-esque live instrumentation. Both styles are strongly represented on Format’s fine new LP, Statement of Intent (Project Blue Book/Slice-Of-Spice). And with Statement‘s “Spaceship Earth” featuring Edan, and “Terror” featuring Mr. Lif two of our favorites for 2012 thus far, we thought it only right to press this wily Brighton beat vet for a list (in no particular order) of his favorite sample flips.
HIT UP THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE TO CHECK OUT FORMAT’S FAVORITE SAMPLE FLIPS
1. Showbiz & A.G. ft. Big L, D-Shawn & Lord Finesse - "Represent" (Payday, 1992)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Jack Bruce – “Sam Enchanted Dick (Medley): Sam’s Sack/Rill’s Thrills” (Atco, 1970)
DJ Format: This Jack Bruce album was famously absolutely pillaged by Showbiz and a number of producers to great effect in the early ’90s but when I first heard “Represent” it completely blew my mind! I couldn’t even figure out what instrument was playing the beautifully distorted sound I loved so much. It turned out to be an electric guitar riff pitched down a little and I don’t know what made Showbiz think to even loop it in the first place.
I didn’t find the Jack Bruce LP until a few years later and although it’s not something I can enjoy musically from beginning to end, I do love the feeling I get when classic sample after classic sample jumps out from the otherwise random jazz and grabs my ears. Showbiz might have taken a LOT of samples from this record but he was totally original with it and massively influenced me at that time.
2. The Beatnuts - "Fried Chicken" (Relativity, 1994)
PRODUCERS: The Beatnuts
SAMPLE SOURCE: James Brown – “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” (King, 1970)
DJ Format: I generally love most hip-hop records that have sampled this break, but The Beatnuts really changed the swing of the drums in an original way and I don’t fully understand how they did it. I tried to recreate it myself on my James Brown tribute (“Stealin’ James Pt.1″) but I don’t think I quite nailed it. I like their subtle use of the guitar lick which also had me scratching my head when I tried to recreate what I thought was a simple thing.
3. Two Kings In a Cipher - "Definition of a King" (Bahia, 1991)
PRODUCERS: Deric D.Dot Angelettie & Ron “Amen-Ra” Lawrence
SAMPLE SOURCES: James Brown – “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” (King, 1970)
Ultramagnetic MC’s – “Feelin’ It” (Next Plateau, 1988)
DJ Format: I always loved the way both Marley Marl (Kool G Rap’s “Poison”) and Ced Gee (Ultra’s “Feelin’ It”) used the heavy snare drum from the aforementioned JB record but I thought it would be better to talk about “Definition of a King” as it flips an already flipped sample! Two Kings In a Cipher clearly took the drums straight from the Ultramagnetic MC’s record but flipped the loop into a really awkward pattern that takes a few bars to get your head around. I know people that can’t stand this record but personally I love it and really respect the way they’ve used drums from another hip-hop record in a very deliberate and original way.
4. Rockwell Noel and The Poet - "Massacre" (SAM, 1989)
PRODUCER: Rockwell Noel
SAMPLE SOURCE: James Brown – “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” (King, 1970)
Incredible Bong Band – Apache (Pride, 1973)
DJ Format: This record is from 1989 and while it maybe isn’t anything technically clever by today’s standards, it’s a good example of how to use two drum breaks together for maximum effect. Rockwell Noel puts the heavy “Apache” drums through a phaser and subtly mixes in the drums from… yes, you guessed it… “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved,” then adds the Lyn Collins shaker percussion and the result is pure hip-hop! I would never have noticed the JB drums subtly in the mix if it wasn’t for the little breakdown later in the song where they play on their own.
5. Ultimate Force - "Supreme Diamond D" (Strong City, 2007; recorded in 1989)
PRODUCER: Diamond D
SAMPLE SOURCE: Blowfly – “Sesame Street” (Weird World, 1974)
DJ Format: This is primarily a DJ track where Master Rob brags about his DJ, Diamond D. The use of the Blowfly drums is nice but this really gets interesting when Diamond D breaks down the alphabet. But instead of using the A-Z of dirty words as on the Blowfly record, he cuts a classic phrase or sample to represent each letter (i.e. A… “Ain’t No Half Steppin’,” B… “Brothers & Sisters,” C… “C’mon Baby”… and so on). It’s one of those great ideas that made me wish I’d thought of it first.
6. MC Mell'O' - "Bizzie Rhymin" (Republic, 1989)
PRODUCER: DJ Pogo
SAMPLE SOURCE: The Vibrettes – “Humpty Dump” (Lujon, 1973)
DJ Format: A great record produced by DJ Pogo, a UK producer/DJ/beat-digging pioneer who doesn’t get enough credit. There’s nothing fancy about the way Pogo flipped this break. That would have been unnecessary as it’s already incredible, but he was the first use it and utilized all the best bits in true hip-hop tradition!
7. E.S.P. - "Wild Thing" (Select, 1988)
PRODUCER: Hitman Howie Tee
SAMPLE SOURCE: Bob James – “Nautilus” (CTI, 1974)
DJ Format: I’m not someone who spends much time discussing this kind of thing on the Internet, so I apologize if it’s already been said elsewhere. But I’ve never heard anyone give this song (and its producer Howie Tee) any credit for the first use of the straight “Nautilus” drums. I definitely don’t want to take anything away from Large Professor (who is one of my all-time favorites), as “Live At The Barbeque” [which also flipped the "Nautilus" drums] is a much better record. But as “Wild Thing” predates it by three years, I have to give credit to Howie Tee for flipping those drums back in ’88.
8. Black, Rock & Ron - "It's Raw" (Supreme, 1989)
PRODUCERS: Black, Rock & Ron
SAMPLE SOURCE: Z.Z Hill – “I Think I’d Do It” (Mankind, 1972)
DJ Format: Paul C is credited with engineering and mixing this track from the UK issue of Stop The World, but I’d put money on it that he programmed those drums too. The song also samples Bob James’ “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” very nicely too!
9. KMD - "Gimme" (Readyrock, 2000; recorded in 1994)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Richard Roundtree – “Lovin’” (MGM, 1972)
DJ Format: This sample already sounded pretty crazy before KMD sped it up and chopped it but they definitely got all the best bits out of it. I really wanted to include something by KMD in my top 10 as I think they were always original with their choice and use of samples. I chose “Gimme” because I happen to have the Richard Roundtree LP whereas I don’t have the Sesame Street album they sampled for “Humrush” – another great KMD song.
10. MC Lyte - "Paper Thin" (First Priority, 1988)
PRODUCER: King of Chill
SAMPLE SOURCE: Al Green – “I’m Glad You’re Mine” (Hi, 1972)
DJ Format: King Of Chill produced this song for MC Lyte, and although the way he looped this beat won’t seem exciting to anyone hearing it for the first time in 2012, I can assure you it sounded incredible in 1988 and it’s still my favorite use of the classic Al Green drum break.
Strangely, in the course of listing my top 10 sample flips I’ve only managed brief mentions of some of my favorite producers like Marley Marl, Ced Gee and Large Professor – and not even mentioned DJ Premier, who has done some of the most innovative work in the history of sampling. But since those guys have generally been well acknowledged over the years, I thought it would be more interesting to mention King Of Chill who generally gets overlooked despite producing so many important records in the late ’80s. I wanted to list “Cha Cha Cha” – which he also produced for MC Lyte – but I can’t remember the name of the awful Four Tops record he so cleverly chopped up. Mr. Thing showed me it a few years back and it was so bad I decided not to buy it… I wish I had now!