If you’re familiar with J. Rocc first and foremost as a DJ – or more accurately, one of the best DJs on this here Planet Earth – no one can exactly blame you. Since co-founding the renowned Beat Junkies turntablist crew in ’92, the Los Angeleno’s destroyed sets wherever steel wheels spin – clubs, radio, mix-tapes, and live shows (having backed Madlib in concert since the early ’00s, as well as Madlib and J Dilla when the two performed together as Jaylib). However, this past April, J. also exhibited himself to be a damn formidable producer, dropping an excellent and long overdue debut album, Some Cold Rock Stuf (Stones Throw), that proved his time hangin’ with Otis Jackson and James Yancey was obviously well spent. With so much knowledge and appreciation for the construction and deconstruction of tracks in the “Funky President’s” sphere it was only right that we contact his office to request an address of his all-time top sample flips.
1. Babu ft. Iriscience, Phil the Agony, Evidence, Krondon, Planet Asia, Akil, Chace Infinite & Chali 2NA – “Live From Master Control” (Beat Junkie Sound, 2002)
SAMPLE SOURCE: David Porter – “(I’m Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over” (Enterprise, 1971)
J. Rocc: I like the type of records where there’s like five different samples in one song. [This producer] heard this and that person heard that. The [David Porter song] is one of them records. RZA sampled the very beginning [for GZA “Duel of the Iron Mic”], Biggie [“Who Shot Ya”] sampled the middle, and Babu freaked the end. Even though everybody else flipped it [really well] I like Babu’s. He chopped about ten different things and put it all together. There’s still shit in there that people haven’t used.
3. Pete Rock ft. Roc Marciano & Trife – “Give It To Y'all” (BBE, 2001)
PRODUCER: Pete Rock
SAMPLE SOURCE: Freda Payne – “Prelude”/“The Road We Didn’t Travel” (Invictus, 1971)
J. Rocc: That’s one of them funny ones. Everybody knows the main [Freda Payne] song but no one really pays attention to the beginning, the prelude, which is the Pete Rock shit. The UN track. [Later in the song] it goes into Afu Ra – the Premier remix of the DJ Cam song, “Voodoo Child. Then it goes into some other shit Madlib used for Guilty Simpson. That’s one of my favorite loops because it snuck by everybody and [Pete] got that off. Every time you play it people are like, oh shit, that’s what that shit is? That song was so banging when it came out.
4. Soho – “Hot Music” (United Sounds of America, 1990)
PRODUCER: Pal Joey
SAMPLE SOURCE: Wynton Marsalis – “Skain’s Domain” (Columbia, 1986)
J. Rocc: One of them ones where you hear the [sample source] and you’re like, “Wow, how’d [Pal Joey] hear that? What are you doing listening to this record?” That’s the question you ask. “Why are you listening to this .99 cent record, right here? Wynton Marsalis?” And then like he found an all-time classic loop. You can’t front. That’s a hip-hop and a house classic. You can play that song at both spots and everybody would know what it is. You could play that anywhere. That’s from that era when it was still okay for hip-hop heads to hear a little bit of house. That’s definitely a “Break In Case of Emergency” song. No one’s dancing, what am I gonna play? [sings piano loop] And no matter what everybody will come out.
5. Showbiz & AG – “Party Groove” (Showbiz, 1991)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Brother Jack McDuff – “Strolling Blues” (Atlantic, 1967)
J. Rocc: I bought that [Jack McDuff] record on pure accident, just diggin’. And [for a long time] I’d been looking for a double. I finally found a double so I have a mono pressing and I have a stereo pressing and they’re two totally different mixes. I think [Showbiz] sampled the mono mix. But he flipped like five different parts from that song. He used every piece possible.
This is like the same thing as with [Pal Joey sampling] Wynton Marsalis: “What are you doing listening to that Jack McDuff album?” To me, D.I.T.C. are like not gangsters, but they’re some thug fools. Like, “I’ll fuck you up”-type cats. And that’s a funny record for a “I’ll fuck you up”-type of cat to be listening to. “Yo, son, throw on that Brother Jack McDuff!” I just can’t picture that happening. But they were diggin’ in the crates, man. He found some goofy shit and made it dope, man.
6. Busta Rhymes – “Show Me What You Got” (Elektra, 2000)
PRODUCER: J Dilla
SAMPLE SOURCE: Stereolab – “Come and Play In the Milky Night” (Elektra, 1999)
J. Rocc: J Dilla production. My boy C-minus hipped him to that record. One day him and Dilla were cruising around and he was listening to Stereolab. And Dilla heard that shit and was like, “Yo what is that? Stereo-what?” That shit is dope to me when I hear little stories like that. That’s just a crazy loop. I still can’t figure out what part it starts on. Sometimes I’ll do a live set and I’ll mix into the Stereolab, but it’s such a weird chop I can never figure out where “the one” is.
7. Redman – “Gilla House Check” (Def Jam, 2005)
PRODUCER: Da Mascot
SAMPLE SOURCE: Goblin – “Snip Snap” (Cinevox, 1976)
J. Rocc: People slept on that Redman track. Man, that got so much play when we were still doing Friday Night Flavors, doing the radio show out here. We used to burn the hell out of that song, man. The Goblin thing is just a loop but it’s a tricky loop. It’s super offbeat. They just let it ride. Even that drum roll. That’s another one of them songs a couple of people jacked and made some stuff out of. I love prog rock, that’s my shit.
8. J Dilla – “Reckless Driving” (Mummy, 2003)
PRODUCER: J Dilla
SAMPLE SOURCE: Peter Baumann – “Bicentennial Presentation” (Virgin, 1976)
J. Rocc: Peter Baumann’s the dude from Tangerine Dream. Dilla found a tricky part of [the song] and looped it up. He listened to all that Tangerine Dream type shit. It’s a crazy loop. That shit is nuts. He had such a great ear for electronic loops. When I would talk to him about his shit I’d be like, “Yo, Dilla what’s this sample?! Yo Dilla, man, what’s the sample for this, man?!” I’d geek out with him. I’d be so nerdy around him sometimes but he would put up with it. We’d be smoking and just hanging out and he’d be playing me beats and I’d be like, “Yo, man, I’ve always meant to ask you, man: what the fuck is blah blah blah?” “Aw, J Rocc, man. That’s blah blah blah blah. Aw, come on, you got everything, man, you ain’t got that record? Aw, man, you need to have that record, J Rocc!” He’d always clown me if I didn’t have the record. “Nah, man, I don’t buy Peter Baumann. I never looked in the Peter Baumann section, Dilla.” After that I was definitely looking in the Peter Baumann section.
I’d always ask him, like, “Yo, you played keyboards on that?” “Nah, man, that’s a sample.” Then I’d be like, “Yo, man, what sample is that?” “Aw man, that’s me playing keyboards.’ So it was always tricky with him. Like I never knew what was a sample and what was him on his keyboard fucking around.
9. The Beatnuts – “Let Off a Couple” (Relativity, 1994)
PRODUCER: The Beatnuts
SAMPLE SOURCE: Monty Alexander – “Love and Happiness” (MPS, 1974)
J. Rocc: The Beatnuts killed it. Apache’s “Gangsta Bitch” was [before The Beatnuts and was] a big hit, but I wasn’t trippin’ off the sample with “Gangsta Bitch.” Maybe because it was more disguised. The [Monty Alexander song] is one of them songs that has about four different samples in there. There’s all kinds of things that you can chop up and that have been chopped up. I think I heard this on a comp before I finally found the real album it’s from, Rass. For the longest I just played it off of Nuggets Vol. 2.
I was definitely a comp digger. I have no shame in my game. I’ll buy a comp in a heartbeat. And usually the people who are the ones that are talking shit about comps are the ones that make ’em. “Aw, man, comps are wack, man… Yo, I just made this new funk comp.” Man, you were just dissin’ comps. But yeah, I’m definitely a comp digger. That’s like going to the library. You learn from those comps. If it wasn’t for Ultimate Breaks and Beats a lot of cats [wouldn’t know anything].
10. N.W.A – “Straight Outta Compton” (Ruthless, 1988)
PRODUCER: Dr. Dre
SAMPLE SOURCE: The Winstons – “Amen Brother” (Metromedia, 1969)
J. Rocc: Just like how I was talking about comps “Amen Brother” was one of them records that everyone was sampling off of Ultimate Breaks and Beats. I don’t think anybody had an original of “Amen Brother” unless you were some diggin’ cat back in the ’80s. It’s been sampled so many times. Dr. Dre is the ultimate comp digger. I’m gonna have to say I believe all of Straight Outta Compton is Ultimate Breaks and Beats because I used to go to [famous LA swap meet] The Rodium and that’s where Dre would buy [them]. They were always sold out of the “Funky President” volume and the “Funky Drummer” one. Homeboy [who worked there] used to always say, “Aw, Dr. Dre come by here all the time and bought all of them!” And next thing you know you hear [Straight Outta Compton]. I’m sure he sampled it all off of Ultimate Breaks and Beats.
“Amen Brother” is just a classic break. It’s been sample so many times – from techno to drum and bass to house, probably. Everybody’s messed with it at least one time. And Dre just killed it. He throws his little Electric Company-sounding sample over it and just he just let that beat ride. It may not be Electric Company, but it reminds me of that shit. He had two SPs synced up, so who knows. He had everything going on under the sun on that album. He was sample happy.