First things first…the inspiration behind this post came from this Soulstrut thread, started by “IndianaCornikova,” regarding Cypress Hill’s “Real Estate.”
Now, like many, IndianaCornikova had heard that opening bassline came from Tony Avalon’s “Sexy Coffee Pot,” specifically the bridge portion about 2/3rds of the way in.
Certainly sounds like the bassline, no? The problem, as the poster noted, is that there are rather major drums underneath that bassline but on the Cypress Hill song, it starts “clean” – no drums. So where did the drums go? If you read the thread, one argument is that Muggs did a low pass filter. Someone else suggested it might have been a replayed bassline by a studio bassist. The latter didn’t seem as plausible to me since 1) I had never heard that studio musicians worked on that album and 2) it was such a sample-heavy album, it seemed less plausible. But as the Soulstrut debate raged on, I figured there was one way to find out.
I tracked down Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo, legendary engineer/producer, who worked on the Cypress album. And his reply was simple: “I remember it as a replay.” Until we can get Muggs to weigh in (paging Brian Coleman!), I’ll roll with Joe on this.
In essence then, it’s a recreated sample, if that makes sense. But not a sample in the “digitally sampled” sense of the term. And this got me thinking of other “sampled” basslines that weren’t literal samples either. #1 on that list, with a bullet?
This was a huge mystery for a minute until Dr. Dre let it out: it wasn’t a sample. It was studio sessioner Colin Wolfe. As far as I know, this wasn’t even “inspired by” a sample; it was just a bassline that Wolfe and/or Dre came up with during the production process.
Now, with Main Source’s “Snake Eyes,” the bassline was inspired by a record. Here’s “Snake Eyes.”
Here’s the bassline source: Johnnie Taylor’s cover of “Watermelon Man.”
However, this wasn’t a strict sample (if you compare the two songs, the Main Source’s is much cleaner than the source material would have easily allowed for). Instead, Large Pro brought in Anton Pukshansky, who worked heavily on Breaking Atoms.
Anton also played bass on this song, another one that I assumed was originally a sample, Grand Puba’s debut solo single, “360 (What Goes Around)”.
Apparently, not a sample, just Anton’s nimble finger work. (As an aside, I’ve always wondered if he played this bassline – since he does it elsewhere on the album – but apparently, it’s just a really slick chop by T-Ray).
Last but not least – and this is slightly a twist on the title theme…the following IS a sample. It just isn’t of an actual bassline.
As I helped report on last year, the “Shook Ones II” bassline is actually a pitched down piano melody from Herbie Hancock. Peep:
I’m sure there are other examples out there. For example, I still don’t know where this bassline is from. If it were a replay, I’d believe it!