1. Godfather Lives Through: Hip-Hop’s Top 25 James Brown Sampled Records.

    Originally published in Scratch, March/April 2007.

    PREFACE: I originally compiled this list as a companion piece to a James Brown memorial for Scratch magazine not long after the Godfather of Soul’s passing on Christmas Day, 2006. On this, what would have been his 79th birthday, I’ve resurrected the piece and revamped it a little, re-formatting it in similar fashion to how we’ve been doing our sample flips posts. Even though the story’s original title emphasizes the premise that these are the 25 greatest rap records to sample James Brown or James Brown productions, the competitive rankings were honestly less important to me when I wrote it than simply presenting something that celebrated the range of James’ influence on hip-hop over different eras. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any way to reduce the importance of James Brown’s music to hip-hop to 25 examples because without James Brown there is no hip-hop (not to mention any other form of modern club or dance related music). And that applies whether you’re talking hip-hop constructed via samples, or played by keyboard or band, or built from (turntable) scratch. That said, here’s the list. Feel free to suggest your favorites or hit the comments section with miscellaneous feedback/complaints. But just be sure while you’re at it to wish the Godfather a happy birthday. RIP, James Brown – always and forever the star of the show.

    (In Chronological Order)

    1. Boogie Down Productions – “South Bronx” (B-Boy, 1986)

    Producer: Boogie Down Productions

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    Sample Sources/Interpolations:
    James Brown – “Funky Drummer” (King, 1970)

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    James Brown – “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” (King, 1971)

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    James Brown – “Get Up Offa That Thing” (Polydor, 1976)

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    Afrika Bambaataa & James Brown – “Unity (Interlude)” (Tommy Boy, 1984)

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    KRS-One and Scott La Rock’s seminal hip-hop history lesson/Juice Crew dis remains as succinct a representation of James Brown’s sampled legacy in hip-hop as there is. Its multi-pitched horn stabs, filtered “Funky Drummer” snares, rapid-fire vocal tics, and re-played guitar licks are all cherry-picked from vintage Godfather grooves.


    2. Eric B. & Rakim – “Eric B. Is President” (Zakia, 1986)

    Producer: Marley Marl

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    Sample Source: James Brown – “Funky President” (People It’s Bad)” (Polydor, 1974)

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    Contrary to what the title may have suggested, “Eric B. Is President” left virtually all the main musical elements of James Brown’s “Funky President” untouched. Instead producer Marley Marl repeatedly pillaged the original’s three-beat drum fill intro like a true commander-in-thief, fueling the fire of Rakim Allah’s historic inaugural address.


    3. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – “It’s a Demo” (Cold Chillin’, 1986)

    Producer: Marley Marl

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    Sample Source: James Brown – “Funky Drummer” (King, 1970)

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    James Brown – “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” (King, 1970)

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    Generally considered the first hip-hop record to heavily utilize “Funky Drummer,” G Rap’s debut provided Marley Marl (get used to reading his name here, kids) another early demo(nstration) of his production wizardry, arranging JB-sampled grunts, spoken intros, guitar riffs, and those infamous snares into a hypnotic, reverb-soaked transmission from the galaxy of Queens.


    4. Big Daddy Kane – “Raw” (Prism, 1987)

    Producer: Marley Marl

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    Sample Sources: Bobby Byrd – “Hot Pants (I’m Coming, I’m Coming, I’m Coming)” (Brownstone, 1971)

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    James Brown – “Escape-Ism” (People, 1971)

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    Lyn Collins – “Mama Feelgood” (People, 1973)

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    James Brown – “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” (Polydor, 1974)

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    “Raw” finds Marley Marl perfecting the James Brown-based musical recipe introduced by “It’s a Demo.” A kinetic Bobby Byrd rhythm track, a sharply truncated sax squeal, and DJ Mister Cee’s itchin’ array of scratch cuts inspire King Asiatic to deliver the defining performance of his career.


    5. Eric B. & Rakim – “I Know You Got Soul” (4th & B’way, 1987)

    Producer: Eric B. & Rakim

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    Sample Source: Bobby Byrd – “I Know You Got Soul” (King, 1968)

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    Abandoning any semblance of subtlety, Eric & Ra boldly borrowed the title, main guitar groove, and hook of the JB-produced Bobby Byrd tune, essentially remaking the former Famous Flame’s solo classic as a Golden Era anthem.


    6. Public Enemy – “Public Enemy #1” (Def Jam, 1987)

    Producer: The Bomb Squad

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    Sample Source: Fred Wesley & the JB’s – “Blow Your Head” (People, 1974)

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    What began innocently enough as a pause tape promo for Chuck D’s Adelphi University radio show would become P.E.’s entrée into Def Jam, and the blueprint for the Bomb Squad’s unprecedented excursions into controlled aural chaos. And a blaring JB’s synthesizer sample is the sonic snippet that started it all.


    7. Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rud – “Do the James” (Citi-Beat, 1987)

    Producer: Paul C

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    Sample Sources:
    James Brown – “Blues & Pants” (Polydor, 1971)

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    James Brown – “Intro” (Revolution of the Mind: Live at the Apollo Vol. 3) (Polydor, 1971)

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    The first JB-sampled hip-hop track to formally name-check James himself is one of the late, great producer/engineer Paul C.’s most lasting creations. With a monstrously EQ-ed “Impeach the President” holding down the low end, and the voice of James’ trusty show emcee Danny Ray punctuating the choruses, the “Blues & Pants” guitar line is the glue that makes this groove forever grand.


    8. 45 King – “The 900 Number” (Tuff City, 1988)

    Producer: 45 King

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    Sample Source: Marva Whitney – “Unwind Yourself” (King, 1968)

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    Proof positive that not all two-bar loops are created equal, this timeless party igniter from Orange, New Jersey’s crown royal still exudes maximum sax appeal.


    MORE ON PAGE 2…


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  2. You might wanna peep...

    • Dr Z

      Outstanding. Made me say Good God

    • Rah

      The “I’m ’bout ready to do my thing!” vocal snippet on “It’s a Demo” sounds more like Eddie Murphy’s imitation of James from “Delirious” than from “Sex Machine”.

    • http://govillaingo.com J-Zone

      One I always felt was really clever and overlooked was Slick Rick’s “Mistakes of a Woman in Love With Other Men.” I think it samples “I’m Broken hearted.” Similar to “All for One,” it’s like really unassuming one bar loop that you’ll miss if you ain’t listening type of shit. Word to Vance Wright!

    • HughPhug

      awesome Ricky Ricardo song, and yes indeed samples the opening bar from I’m Broken Hearted, i like your style brother.
      Other favourites of mine include Gang Starrs Manifest (Bring It Up), Ice-T Mind Over Matter (Mind Power) but most all the way Mister Cee grabbed 4 seconds from Talkin’ Loud & Sayin’ Nothing and turned it into Master Ace I Got Ta.
      Fucking killer

    • oskamadison

      @ HughPhug

      I co-sign the shit out of that “I Got Ta” joint. One of the best cuts off one of the most slept-on albums ever. Other joints: Ultramagnetic MC’s “Chorus Line” (JB’s “Can I Get Some Help?”), The West Coast All Stars’ “We’re All In the Same Gang” (Untitled Instrumental) and Big Daddy Kane’s “Just Rhymin’ With Biz” (The Payback).

    • oskamadison

      Oh, one more: Chubb Rock’s “Caught Up (remix)” (I Got Ants In My Pants.)

Follow The Leaders.

Heavy Rotation.

Diamond District - March On Washington Redux.
Cormega ft. AZ, Redman & Styles P - M.A.R.S. (Unreleased Version).
Boogie Down Productions - Live in London, 1990.
D\'Angelo - RBMA Radio Fireside Chat.