1. Easy Mo Bee’s 10 Favorite Sample Flips.

    SampleFlips_EASYMOBEE

    Before Bad Boy Records boasted a team of beatmaking boardsmen known as The Hitmen, there was Easy Mo Bee. A one-man hit squad, it was Mo Bee’s productions for Craig Mack and, most famously, fellow Brooklynite The Notorious B.I.G. (a whopping half dozen key tracks off the classic Ready to Die) that laid the foundation for Diddy and company’s dominant run through the ‘90s. Both with Bad Boy and for others, Mo perfected a uniquely versatile sound: catchy enough to court radio, yet never short on grit – the result of a keen talent for chopping and flipping largely unidentified samples that still confound trainspotters to this day.

    If tracks like Mack’s megasmash “Flava In Ya Ear,” the Lost Boyz’s “Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz,” or any number of his collabs with 2Pac rep his resume lovely, so too do earlier efforts for Big Daddy Kane, and a pre-Wu-Tang GZA. We caught up with the pride of Brooklyn’s Lafayette Gardens Houses recently to discuss his favorite sample flips (all of which, ahem, happen to be by the same producer). And though he may remain stingy with sample secrets, Mo Bee is never less than generous with stories and insights.

    HIT UP THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE TO CHECK OUT MO BEE’S FAVORITE SAMPLE FLIPS…

    1. The Notorious B.I.G. - "Going Back to Cali" (Bad Boy, 1997)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Zapp – “More Bounce to the Ounce” (Warner Bros., 1980)

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    Easy Mo Bee: I always wanted to use ["More Bounce"]. But so many producers and rappers done already raped the song. I wanted to use that record but I wanted to use differently from how anybody ever used it. And if you listen, the beat for “Going Back to Cali” travels somewhat at the same pace and rhythm that the original “More Bounce” moves to, but it’s got a little extra [something] that I put up in there. I wanted to create a new bassline up in there. In no way is there a loop anywhere [in this track]. Let’s make that clear off the top. Anything you hear in the “Going Back to Cali” beat that’s happening, I’m making it happen. Like every separate part [is something] I wanted those individual parts to [do]. They’re all chopped individually. From the bass to the kick and that funk clap snare. I figure it has to be about 15 [chopped parts] at least. It was done on an SP 1200. And with that ancient piece of equipment everything there is done manually, man. There wasn’t no programs available back then where you throw the song into the machine and it automatically chops it all up for you. No, everything was done by hand. So you’re sitting there and you just working at this thing till you feel that it’s right. There can’t be any glitches. Everything has to be truncated properly. So you got the kick, the snare, the bass sound, and a bunch of other interesting millisecond moments in the beat that you need to use as connections. It’s crazy, man, if you sit and really listen to it. It’s a lot of work that went into that beat. A lot.

    2. 2Pac - "Temptations" (Interscope, 1995)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Zapp – “Computer Love” (Warner Bros., 1985)

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    Easy Mo Bee: The bassline [from "Computer Love"] that I love the most is the main bassline that carries all the [song's] verses. [sings bassline] I’m like, why can’t I speed that up! And some kind of way without using all those drum machine sounds that’s in there. So we filtered the bassline, and then just started going on top, all around it, and built a new track around it. And picked up the pace by throwing it on 45, speeding it up in the Akai S-950 rack mount sampler. I wanted my feel, my drums, on top of it.

    3. Miles Davis - "Blow" (Columbia, 1992)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: James Brown – “Give It Up Or Turnit a Loose” (King, 1970)

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    Easy Mo Bee: It was a track that I actually already had made. It was a track that was based on James Brown’s “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose.” The changes [from the original song] are there and everything – when the bass goes up and it comes back down. I didn’t wanna sample all of [the record]. I was like, let’s build something else around it and just use those little horns. It was real New Jack Swing-ish, what I did to it. And I knew that Miles would probably be diggin’ that. In his little scraggly voice, the way he used to talk, he said, “That’s baaad!” He just kept saying, “That’s baaad!” I’m saying to myself, dude don’t even know… I couldn’t even be all the way raw Mo Bee the way I wanted to. He didn’t want it that gritty. So he’s sitting there and he’s saying that. I’m like, he don’t even know.

    4. The Notorious B.I.G. - "Warning" (Bad Boy, 1994)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Isaac Hayes – “Walk On By” (Enterprise, 1969)

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    Easy Mo Bee: I always wanted to use ["Walk On By"] but just wanted it faster, uptempo. At the time when I used it I was surprised that nobody [else had used it before]. It just bugged me out. It’s like it’s open, it’s all right there. On a lot of these other tracks that we’re talking about I did all this intricate chopping and all that, but [with this] I was like, nuh uh, that right there as it is – I want that. We gonna do some looping. But like “Computer Love,” I wanted it to travel a little faster. So I sped it up. Drummed it up. There’s some really light crescendo strings that you hear. They fade in and out every once in a while. I had that going just for effect. But mainly just left the track kind of bare. That’s how it was when I brought it to Biggie. I was thinking about adding all of this other extra stuff to it, and they were like, nah, nah leave it raw just like that.

    [Mo Bee recalls how the beat was originally turned down by Big Daddy Kane]
    Kane was in my house, in my apartment. I had moved out of LG [Lafayette Gardens] at that time and went and got my own apartment over there on Clinton Avenue between Gates and Greene, like Chubb Rock said [on "Treat 'Em Right"]. So I was playing some beats, and it didn’t matter what beats I was playing, he just kept sitting there writing. And he’s listening to different beats at the same time, listening to stuff I’m playing. So I got to [the beat that became "Warning"]. Played it for him. I was like, “This is it, right here!” He looked at me and then he put his head back down and kept writing and was like, “Play the next beat.” So I said, “Yo, yo sure, man?” He said, “Yo, just play the next beat, man.” I said, “Yo, this is Isaac Hayes, man. I know you be sampling a lot of Ike and Barry [White] – that’s your thing, kid!” He looked at me again and said, “Play the next beat.” I was like, aight. [Later, after the song blew up] one time when I had seen him, and I told him, “You know I played you that, right?” And he was like, “No you didn’t!” I’m like, “Okay… you don’t remember when I said, ‘Are you sure?’ Two times?” I don’t know, things like that happen, man. [The beat that became the Lost Boyz's] “Jeep, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz” was Craig Mack’s – he didn’t want it.

    5. Thug Life - "Str8 Ballin'" (Interscope, 1995)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Bootsy’s Rubber Band – “What’s a Telephone Bill?” (Warner Bros., 1977)

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    Easy Mo Bee: A lot of times you gotta look at the pattern of what the artist usually takes. If they known for using lengthy samples you say, that’s what he do, cool. I’m a run amok. [laughs] [The Bootsy sample] was like a keyboard, it has no bassline to it. It was just a soft drum or rimshot and hi-hat and that little keyboard line. And then there’s some light wah-wah guitar. So I added a bass to it. I try to keep the bass sounds sounding as generic as possible. And I just start building things around it.

    A lot of that lengthy loop stuff I’ve done it, but you can hear a lot more of that earlier in my career like when I first started. Like a lot of the Rappin’ Is Fudamental stuff. I think somewhere around De La Soul’s 3 Feet High & Rising the manager that I had at Rush [producers management], she had this list of all of these different artists – Anita Baker, Steve Miller Band, of course, Sade, and a whole bunch of other names. She passed the list out to all of the producers on the roster and said, “Stay away from these people!” [laughs] Yo, straight up. She said, “Do not even think about sampling these people.” Because it got really, really serious right there about that time. We didn’t really have to think so much about it until then. And at that moment when she passed out [that list] that’s when I sat and I took note of my technique. I was already doing stuff like chopping and what I called “playing samples.” Where I took not loops but instruments from songs. Just the instrument, play something back original with it. That’s what [Craig Mack's] “Flava In Ya Ear” was. “Flava In Ya Ear” was one note, one guitar note with a long throw reverb on it. [laughs] And you know the original pitch of it wasn’t [what it wound up being]. The original pitch of it was [higher]. That’s just a sound. Sometimes you take a sound, it could only be three seconds worth. But once you start delaying it and using multi-pitch, the sound takes on a whole brand new shape of its own. And at that point it doesn’t even matter what it is. That sound is yours, you’re doing something brand new with it.

    [Adopting that style] all came from that letter, that list she passed out. That technique that I had that I was already doing a little bit of. I was like, you gotta make that your style now, your technique. You gotta use that and do that more because the freedom ain’t there no more to be taking these lengthy loops. I never really had no interest in sampling no Steve Miller Band anyway. But then I went and listened to a lot of they albums, and was like, whoooaaaa! [I had to tell myself:] Stay away. Stay away.

    6. 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Dramacydal, Stretch & Buju Banton - "Runnin'" (Mergela, 1995)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Bootsy’s Rubber Band – “Munchies For Your Love” (Warner Bros., 1977)

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    Easy Mo Bee: When I work with people I always bring tracks to the the table that’s me – what I normally do, my chopping style and everything. But I’ll always ask somebody that I’m working with: is there anything you ever wanted flipped? And [Pac] was like, “Yeah! ‘Munchies For Your Love.’” [This song] was on the Million Man March compilation. The album was called One Million Strong. Eminem [later did a remix and] knocked the song down to a Big-Pac song, but originally [it featured] Big, Pac, Stretch from the Live Squad, and this one member from the Outlawz [previously known as Dramacydal].

    [The session was at] Studio C, Unique Recording Studios. You could hardly move around in that room because Big is there, so he got Junior M.A.F.I.A. and all his peoples from Brooklyn up in the room. Pac is there so he got all of his peoples there with him in the room. I’m there, and [people] heard that I was working with Big and Pac so half of the whole damn LG, Lafayette Gardens, was up in the room too. And I remember my engineer Eric Lindstrom having to lean over the board, he couldn’t even sit in a seat. He was standing up, leaning over the SSL board to work because it was that tight in there. Man, it was peace and harmony – like any bunch of your boys that you hang out together with. Just a peaceful moment, man.

    [If I were to compare working with Big versus working with 2Pac], number one off the top I’m a tell you right now: Big ain’t getting excited, he ain’t breakin’ a sweat for nothing. His whole demeanor in terms of being creative in the studio it was always done through a laid back [style]. Everything was done off of a laid back demeanor, never got too excited. He would just think of something, say, “Yeah, I’m a do this,” and he’d go in the booth. He might not even tell you [what he's doing]. First of all he mumbling to hisself for the last hour and 52 minutes [writing rhymes in his head], then jump up talking about going in the booth – “I’m ready.” “You ready for what?” Again, here go that calm, “it’s nothing” demeanor. He walkin’ in the booth – “I got you, I got you.” Go up in there and just spit out three verses. That made me wanna keep up with him. I’m the accomplished producer dude that he getting with, and I’m looking at him like I gotta keep up with him!

    I really felt like I [had to] physically keep up with Pac because Pac was just an animal, a beast in the studio in terms of assigning duties, and just constantly keeping it moving. Nobody is gonna sit around. He’s gonna have somebody doin’ something. You finish a song he’s telling my engineer, “Pull up the tapes from three days ago, yo, I wanna change the second verse on this,” and you do this, and you do that. And, “Yo, where that beat at, Mo Bee?” “Oh, I don’t got it.” “Yo, we need that!” Yo, 2 o’clock in the morning we leaving Unique Studios going to Clinton Avenue to my house. He’s like, “No, I’m not waiting for you to go and get the beat I’m going with you, come on!” And I got all these disks to look through to find [the beat]. You physically had to keep up with the dude. He just gave you like a rush when you’re working with him ’cause you wanna make sure you’re keeping up with him and you also wanna make sure you’re not letting him down or angering him. He got a certain pace, and you gotta keep up with it. And now when I look I understand why his catalog was the way that it was, man. A lot of people lie about that [work ethic]. They talk all big in magazines about how hard they work and everything because it sounds good, but I never seen nobody work harder than [2Pac] in the studio. Not no rapper. Not no hip-hop artist. He’s like a straight Duracell.

    7. Lost Boyz – “Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless” (Uptown, 1995)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Club Nouveau – “Jealousy” (Tommy Boy/King Jay, 1986)

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    Easy Mo Bee: Timex Social Club made “Rumors.” One of their follow up singles [as Club Nouveau] was this record called “Jealousy.” It’s the same dudes that produced En Vogue, Thomas McElroy and Denzel Foster – way before they did En Vogue. “Jealousy” was obviously meant to sound a lot like “Rumors.” Really commercial sounding record. Drum machine type record, keyboards, everything. I slowed it down. I took this really, really commercial R&B sounding record and was like, I wanna make this dirty, gritty, funky. “Lifestyles” was like ’94-’95. “Jealousy” – somewhere around ’85, ’86. Now back then in that era it was kinda taboo to be using samples that recent. I mean, if you was supposed to be a “real hip-hop producer.” I liked those little keyboard hits [from "Jealousy"]. But my drums on top – they gotta overpower the sound of the drums that they had in there. I’m gonna smother that record so much till you’re not gonna hear nothing else going on really in that sample except for that [keyboard].

    Funkmaster Flex used to love the beginning of that. I had an intro where I doubled up in the beginning [sings beat] and he used to cut up that part of the song. And I’m looking in the club, people dancing, I’m like, yo you did it, man. If any of them sat back and listened to the original record that it came from – the original speed, the original pitch of the record and everything – they woulda had a totally different [reaction]. They wouldn’t get it.

    8. Wu-Tang Clan - "Take It Back" (Universal, 2007)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Bob James – “Nautilus” (CTI, 1974)

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    Easy Mo Bee: Basically, I wanted those bells to come out. The bell sounds Bob James was achieving on the keyboard. In a way you can kinda say what I did was [Main Source's] “Live at the Barbeque” to the next level. I was like, I want something a little bit more intricate than [the pattern on] “Live at the Barbeque.” So I’m sampling the kick and snare, but they’re like kick and snare pieces with bits of music left on them. I’m sitting there and I’m playing it back and I kinda ended up getting a slightly new drum pattern out of it too. I added some light guitar sounds on top. Played a bass line that contained some of the original notes from “Nautilus,” but it was slightly different. And it just felt good. And plus, I always wanted to use that, man. Like all of the samples that I wanted to use people done already raped ‘em. So it’s like if you coming behind them you gotta do something great with ‘em or just leave it alone, man.

    9. 2Pac - "My Block" (Def Jam, 1995)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Isley Brothers – “Don’t Say Goodnight” (T-Neck, 1980)

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    Easy Mo Bee: In the late ’80s when I just got the [sampling] machine, I wanted to do things that nobody was doing, real intricate things. I would sit around and listen to records that’s slow, that’s traveling to a time signature that no one can loop, and I’m like I wanna use that. You had to sit there chop every bar and put it back onto the time signature that you want to use it on. And I noticed that I was one of the first people, if not the first, to be doing that. Taking a song that’s traveling in a totally different time signature, and just going step by step down, and you play it back in a time signature how you want it. After I started doing that I noticed a whole lot of people started doing it. That was the process for [using] “Don’t Say Goodnight” for The Show soundtrack. To me, man, it’s not about what’s readily available when you drop the needle on a record. It’s really about what you hear: do you like that? It don’t matter what time signature it’s traveling at, it doesn’t matter that it’s not going at [4/4 time], whether it’s something for you that’s easy to take and loop. No, do you like that? Yes. Use it! Find a way to use it. Everything is not always gonna just be laid out there for you. Some stuff you gotta really work at it.

    10. Alicia Keys - "If I Were Your Woman" (2003, J Records)

    PRODUCER: Easy Mo Bee

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    SAMPLE SOURCE: Isaac Hayes – “Walk On By” (Enterprise, 1969)

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    Easy Mo Bee: [When I met Alicia Keys in the studio] I liked her whole process because before jumping into just working and me throwing beats at her she wanted to talk. I was like, I like this, man, because most people just wanna jump in head first. So we sit down and she said, “Look, I love ‘Warning.’ I love that beat. But I want you to reconstruct something brand new off of it for me. Nobody ever said that you can’t use ‘Walk On By’ twice, right?” I said, yeah. She said, “I just had this idea that I wanna remake Gladys Knight’s ‘If I Were Your Woman’ to it.” So I’m thinking, what am I gonna use [from "Walk On By"] for it? I’m like, just concentrate on the Gladys Knight song, man. How does the Gladys Knight song go? [sings bass line] Okay, so, yo, off the top of my head at the last minute in the studio I scared the shit outta [Alicia Keys and the engineer]. I was like, YO!!! They were like, what? I was like, I wanna time stretch that bassline to the same tune of “If I Were Your Woman.”

    I didn’t do it manually. I preferred not to do it manually in the sampling drum machine. I just had one question for the engineer: can you harmonize it, can you time stretch my sample with it? He said, yeah. We just had sections. Every time the bass line changed notes we had to go step by step and fix all of that. It was not an easy thing. But Alicia she saw the vision in what I wanted to do and the whole concept of it. Once she got it, it was crazy. She said, go ahead, do that shit. It just pays a lot of times to go with your heart, with your mind and just do some of the last minute [ideas] that come to you. Instead of brainstorming and all of that. You just thought of it, just do it. Luckily I’m in the studio working with Alicia and the engineer, they was willing to try this out with me. Because it wasn’t something that you could just do in 10 minutes.

    That’s a technique that I don’t know if people are still even using much. I don’t really hear a lot of intricate concepts in beat-making and producing nowadays with things like time stretching. But how I learned time about stretching was through the people who taught me – who sat on the phone and went over it with me and taught me how to do that kind of stuff: DJ Scratch and Lord Finesse. They sat over the phone with me and showed me, walked me through it. It was a function [on the 950] that was in there that I would pass right over. I didn’t even realize it was in there.

    [The crazy thing is] to this day I don’t own the instrumental to that track. With somebody like Alicia Keys, they gonna be real tight with the materials for they album and stuff. I remember that about her sessions – no tapes, no CDs, no take home mixes, nothing. After all these years now all I wanted to do after [the song] was made was sit and listen to it, man. I have to fight and listen to the beat behind her singing on the album. I still haven’t listened to the instrumental of that beat, man.


  2. You might wanna peep...

    • Flashius

      This is the best read of the series so far. Moe Bee always has a lot to say about the science of beat chopping, this is hella dope.

    • Flashius

      PS Late pass on that Nautilus joint but that’s the hardest flip of that sample I can think of to date.

    • Jmc

      Easy Mo Bee said he was the first to use Walk On By, Maybe he doesn’t know but Comptons Most Wanted used it first on Hood Took Me Under.

    • oskamadison

      Mo Bee is a straight scientist. I’m embarrassed to admit that in all the years I’ve been hearin’ his joints, I’ve only recently started to appreciate the intricacy of his joints. As for “Walk On By”, first place I ever heard that sample was the remix 45 King did for Latifah’s “Wrath Of My Madness”. And even though he chopped “Nautilus” down to particles and freaked it, my favorite use is still Premo’s flip for Group Home’s “Inna Citi Life”. It was nowhere near as intricate but I like how Preme gave it HIS bounce. That Lost Boys joint craked my head. Never knew that was Club Nouveau, he caught that. Pac’s “My Block” joint, I couldn’t even tell that was “Don’t Say Goodnight” but we all know who took the crown with that one. Overall, Mo Bee is one of those cats you wonder, even with the catalog he has, why wasn’t more cats gettin’ at him? egotrip, yall damn near should start a whole seperate site just for this series. I tip my hat to yall once again…

    • http://youllknowwhenyouhearit.wordpress.com Mike

      This is a great article in a great series. So true what he says about using “recent” material to sample from. The idea of using a pitched down commercial 80s R&B tune made me think of “What A Niggy Know” by KMD straight away. But I couldn’t think of any more that used that same technique. I’m sure there’s a tonne.

      Still blogged about it though!

      http://youllknowwhenyouhearit.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/slow-down-moving-towards-a-new-method-of-assessing-90s-hip-hop-tracks-that-used-downpitched-mid-to-late-80s-commercial-rb-hooks/

    • dividedsouls

      When Mo Bee said “I always wanted to use ["Walk On By"] but just wanted it faster, uptempo. At the time when I used it I was surprised that nobody [else had used it before].”
      Correction Compton’s Most Wanted used it in ’93 for the album track Hood Took Me Under from their album Music To Drive By.

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