Coming straight outta the Pacific Northwest repping Seattle, Washington, esteemed producer Jake One is a true hip-hop rarity: one of the few beatsmiths who can claim contributions to albums by mainstream megastars like 50 Cent and Snoop, yet still enjoys no shortage of props from purists. (Those unfamiliar with dude’s super sonic talents may wanna peep his various collabs with Freeway, or his own acclaimed White Van Music LP from a couple years back.) Recently, we caught up with the new dad between production sessions and stroller cruises (can White Mini Van Music be far behind?) to ask him what his ten favorite sample flips are. Much like his own diverse output his picks run the gamut.
1. Jay-Z – “Never Change” (Roc-A-Fella, 2001)
PRODUCER: Kanye West
SAMPLE SOURCE: David Ruffin – “Common Man” (Motown, 1973)
JAKE ONE: Coming from the record collecting/D.I.T.C./we-must-have-the-rarest-records-era, when you think about sampling David Ruffin it’s like [unimpressed], oh yeah, David Ruffin that’s cool. But then you heard the Jay-Z song, and it’s just the shit. I think I had the David Ruffin record at the time this came out. It’s not the craziest chop, but what Kanye did was exactly what needed to be done with that record. That’s kind of what he does in general. He’s not gonna wow you with technique, but he’s got the perfect feel for how to put the shit together. It’s definitely not a loop because I don’t think there’s any one part that just plays all the way through. He might use two bars at one point, and then he takes another one bar later in the song, and then he puts the little vocal sample in there every once in a while. I don’t know, to me that shit is fuckin’ great. Some people just have a knack for it. I think he’s underrated in that aspect. When you’re dope you can make something really filthy out of like three sounds. He’s one of those guys. He’ll just literally have a drum loop he chopped up and a sample and that’s the beat.
2. Madvillain “Fancy Clown” (Stones Throw, 2004)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Z.Z. Hill “That Ain’t the Way You Make Love” (United Artists, 1975)
JAKE ONE: Man, this Madvillain record was one of those I had the original sample for and I even made a beat out of it, but it just wasn’t nowhere near as good. [laughs] You know, as a producer when somebody uses a sample you already touched you just automatically hate on it off the top for no reason. We all do that. But this shit – I don’t know, it just was so dope to me I just had to give it up. I felt like, okay, you slaughtered me with this one. Madlib has this knack for doing the super grungy, lo-fi, sloppy shit. That beat sounds all fucked up. But that shit is great to me. When I used the sample I was trying to make it way cleaner and glossier. I probably did that in the early 2000s at some point. I might have even had that dumb-ass triangle sweep sound that the Triton had. I was trying to make it sound like it might have been on The Blueprint. It was cool. But it was not dope like that shit.
3. Kurupt “We Can Freak It” (Antra, 1998)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio – “It’s Your Night” (Arista, 1981)
JAKE ONE: It’s actually an interpolation Battlecat did. It’s one of those songs that’s always been a big song West Coast wise, it’s kinda like a classic. I always liked the song and when I randomly stumbled upon the Raydio thing I was kinda like, wow, that was really clever how he did that shit. Battlecat’s one of the best dudes ever at replaying shit and maintaining his own sound. It’s like he’s doing a cover version of it but it sounds like his shit no matter what he’s re-doing. He totally maintains the integrity and feel of that kind of music. And that shit is a lot harder than people think it is – to do replays and put your own spin on it and make it yours. He’s definitely one of my favorite producers. This is something that people will listen to and be like [dismissively], oh, that’s a keyboard beat. But it’s rooted in hip-hop and samples. Fuckin’ filthy.
4. Above the Law – “Livin’ Like Hustlers” (Ruthless, 1990)
PRODUCER: Dr. Dre
SAMPLE SOURCES: Quincy Jones – “Hicky Burr” (A&M, 1971); James Brown – “Hot (I Need to be Loved Loved Loved Loved)” (Polydor, 1975)
JAKE ONE: This has the feel of the N.W.A era/D.O.C.-era Dre. And it’s just one of these sample collages that’s just fuckin’ the shit. That’s one thing that’s totally been lost in the 2000s: the idea that you can put ten records together and make it something different – probably just because to clear that record would cost so much money to do it that way. But I think it’s way harder than people realize. He’s got the Quincy Jones thing, which is the main part. Then on the chorus part, which is my favorite part, he puts in James Brown, and all this random shit. There’s “Big Beat” in there. And there’s a vocal sample too. It’s just filthy, man. And it just flows so dope back into the other part. It’s like a flawless blend. Back then they didn’t have time stretchin’ or none of that shit. So he’s somehow getting all these things in key. Just basically just doing it 4-track style on the turntables. The Public Enemy approach, but he brought his own thing to that style.
5. WC & the MAAD Circle – “You Don’t Work, U Don’t Eat” (Priority, 1991)
PRODUCERS: Chilly Chill, Sir Jinx, Crazy Toones
SAMPLE SOURCES: Parliament – “Theme From the Black Hole” (Casablanca, 1979); Zapp – “More Bounce to the Ounce” (Warner Bros., 1980)
JAKE ONE: It’s a Parliament song, it’s “More Bounce,” it’s “God Make Me Funky” – there’s about ten records in this one. It’s another one of those songs where it’s just the way it’s put together. When I was listening to songs like this as a kid I didn’t understand anything about samples or breaks or anything about how they were doing this. I just remember just thinking that beat was so dope. I like the whole album but this one in particular. The records from this era have a little bit of everything. They might have a main loop that drives the song, but there’s always other parts that came into it and went out. It’s always dope how they used to do that. Like on this song when MC Eiht comes in they just start scratching in random samples he’s already rapped over. That’s not happening now. [laughs]
I did some stuff like that on my album and I got sued. Over dumb shit. Not over even anything that was important. Little dumb shit like that I put in there I got in trouble for. That shit kills you. I got sued for like four different things. And it’s all the Internet. You have these websites – whosampled and the-breaks. And people are just into the music, so they’re hyped about finding samples. But all these artists have a Google alert which is leading them to the treasure chest. That’s all people are doing when you do that on line. At least misspell the name or some shit.
6. Gang Starr “Above the Clouds” (Noo Trybe, 1998)
PRODUCER: DJ Premier
SAMPLE SOURCE: John Dankworth – “Two Piece Flower” (Fontana, 1967)
JAKE ONE: Premier probably inspired me with chopping more than anybody. I coulda listed so many of his. I remember when that beat came out I listened to the song over and over and over. And then when I found the record he sampled, I was just like, man, this record is so dumb – how did he even just listen to this and find this part and put it with these drums. I don’t know. He’s just the best ever at that – taking just some miniscule shit that’s not really great on its own and making it great. He just has such a sound. To me, that was one thing as a producer that I always wanted to be able to do was take all these things from different sources but make it your shit. No matter what Premier sampled it sounded like Premier. And I think when you get to that point that’s when you get really good. He was just amazing with that shit.
7. Ghostface Killah – “Be This Way” (Def Jam, 2004)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Billy Stewart – “We’ll Always Be Together” (Chess, 1969)
JAKE ONE: I think what’s dope about it is Nottz didn’t take that much of the record, he took the vocals and the strings. But it’s the drums he put behind it and the bass line. It’s just a hard ass beat, man. Nottz is like a good friend of mine. So I have all kinds of beats of his. He left me a whole beat CD of all Curtis Mayfield sampled stuff. And shit will all be dope. [laughs] So like he just has his formula he does, the way his drums sound and the bass lines – it’s just amazing, man. He’s the shit.
It’s funny when I started trying to do major label shit, him and Alchemist were my role models of what I wanted to do. They would just end up with songs on all these random albums that were big, but they’re shit didn’t sound like the rest of the albums. They would have the one dope song on there. They’re doing shit that’s hip-hop but it sounds big without sounding corny – which is a fine line. There’s big like Puffy with his triangles. And then there’s Just Blaze big. Nottz, Bink big. So they made a good career just making those types of cuts, and I was definitely trying to follow in their footsteps with that.
8. Slum Village “Fall In Love” (Goodvibe, 2000)
PRODUCER: J Dilla
SAMPLE SOURCE: Gap Mangione – “Diana In the Autumn Wind” (GRC, 1968)
JAKE ONE: Another one of these classic two instrument beats. They’re both loops. He looped the Iron Butterfly drums, which a bunch of folks used, and then the Gap Mangione sample. That was a record I had. I think I sampled the beginning part and never even listened into the song to hear the best part. But it’s just a great record. And that’s what makes him the shit: he knew exactly what the right thing to do was depending on what the sample was. That, and just his constant sense of timing. It just sounded good rocking with the drums and the loop. A lot of other, more complicated beats of his people couldn’t even reconstruct them if they tried. But it was all his sound. A lot of Fantastic Vol. 2 is loops, but with the drums he put on there, the bass lines, it all just worked.
I was trying to think with him what would be like the best chop, but I don’t know. There’s so many of his. And with a lot to his songs the rappers might not be the greatest, but the beats are so dope I just like ’em anyways. With Slum Village as a whole I just thought they had a great chemistry over those beats. They might not be good on other people’s beats. But the way they rapped on his shit was probably better than getting whoever the super-ass rapper dude was at the time over them. It was just that chemistry.
9. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – “For Pete’s Sake” (Elektra, 1992)
PRODUCER: Pete Rock
SAMPLE SOURCE: Freddie McCoy – “Gimme Some!” (Cobblestone, 1971)
JAKE ONE: Pete Rock is probably the best to me at putting samples together as far as harmonizing everything that I’ve ever heard. I don’t even know how many samples he’s got in there. But they all sound like they’re in key with each other. The main part is Freddie McCoy. Then there’s an Eddie Harris part in there. He puts the fuckin’ Sly Stone horns in there for no reason. [laughs] The scratches, everything. And “Substitution” again for the drums. How many times has that been used? But it just works. Like I said, listening to stuff when I was young I didn’t even know what the fuck he was doing. I was just like, man, this shit sounds crazy, I like it. You start getting into figuring out the science behind it and you’re like, that shit is hella hard to do!
10. Freeway “When They Remember” (Roc-A-Fella, 2007)
SAMPLE SOURCE: Gladys Knight & the Pips – “The Way We Were” (Buddah, 1975)
JAKE ONE: It’s a Gladys Knight sample and it’s really just a loop, but he went in there and put these live drums behind it that just make the shit sound amazing to me. It’s one of those where I could listen to that beat all day. It’s a random album cut. But that tends to be the shit I like the most. Usually like somebody putting live drums on a sample is not gonna be dope to me. But that shit is just fuckin’ ridiculous. And I actually talked to Free about the song. He said the drums that were there first did he didn’t like, really. So Bink went in there and started playing the drums, and all of the sudden it was the shit. I wish I’d been able to witness that. That’d have been pretty dope. Definitely something I wouldn’t have been capable of.