A couple of weeks back, a forum member on the-breaks.com managed to solve one of the oldest sampling mysteries still out there: where did the bassline for “Shook Ones II” come from? Amazing, for fifteen years, no one had figured this out though that wasn’t for lack of trying. 1
I wrote up the story behind the find and the larger traditions of sample sourcing for the LA Times last week and it was an enjoyable travel back to an era where I was actively participating in sample sleuthing. By coincidence, I was hanging with Chris and Brendan, who run Piecelock 70, and Chris (aka Thes Ichi), was telling us about one of the more infamous stories from the sampling golden era and he was cool with me re-telling it here…
Back in the early ’90s, as much as the diggin’ in the crates ethic may have been promoted, many producers didn’t just rely on their parents’ record collection to find loops, they also depended on record dealers who began to get wise to how lucrative an LP with some good samples could be. 2 One guy in the mix was…let’s just call him BB. He used to sell several of the key producers from the era but while he might hep, say, Pete Rock to a hot new loop he discovered, BB wasn’t above sharing this same “exclusive” secret with several other cats, all in hopes of selling them the album at a mark up. According to BB, this practice became a bit awkward when he began touting around this song:
Milt Jackson with the Ray Brown Big Band: Enchanted Lady
From Memphis Jackson (Impulse!, 1970)
He shopped it to Pete Rock. And Large Professor. And De La Soul.3 And all three ended up using it around the same time: here, here and here. And all three, presumably, we were wondering why their peers just happened to be using the same damn song.
Now…as much as I would love to believe the story – and I’m not saying it’s not true – the main part where it breaks down is the fact that Pete Rock used the loop twice on The Main Ingredient4 but that album is from 1994 whereas all the other uses of “Enchanted Lady” show up two years later. What could be possible is that BB hit off all these guys at the same time but Pete was the first to be able to use it on a release whereas LP was probably caught up in Geffen drama and De La wasn’t likely to release another album in ’94 having just put out Buhloone Mindstate the year before.5
If we’re going to play a game of “who flipped it better?”, I’m kind of stuck here. “Escape” is my favorite song of the batch, but not necessarily strictly for the sample. I think Large Pro went the furthest in really highlighting the original but I’ve never been a huge fan of that single. And I do like the melancholy of “Dinninit.”