Those who see a crisis in pop are missing the point. That point is that, like jazz before it, rock is no longer the predominant popular music. Dance music in its myriad forms is, for want of a better phrase 'where it's at'. That isn't to say that rock is dead - no, just that it is not now where the great leaps into the future are being made. The basis of dance music as we know it today can be pretty much traced back to New York City in the 70s. In Manhattan, disco was taking shape with pioneers such as David Manusso, Walter Gibbons and Larry Levan working on a club atmosphere built on continual music, themed mixes and exclusive extended and dub versions of tunes for the dancefloor.
Up in the Bronx a group of young street kids were creating a unique new music out of the best bits of other people's records, because is was a way to keep the best dancers out on the floor, a sure sign that the protagonist was running the best parties. If this had been a bunch of white kids in a University town, arty music journalists would have been writing about the musical equivalent of Burrough's cut-up techniques (and it would probably have been no good for dancing). As it was they were ignored until it was too late to ruin - and the music burst through with a vengeance with the Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight. The idea of the sample was eagerly taken up by the dance community and now the idea of using parts of an old record to create a new one is the building block on which popular music thrives. Whilst the names of the acts that have been involved in significant sample clearance cases is legion - Oasis, the Verve, Madonna, All Saints - and as you can see far removed from the hip-hop hardcore.
Super Breaks implicitly pays tribute to the whole of hip hop's sample culture starting with Herman Kelly's ultimate old school hip-hop break Dance To The Drummer's Beat which was popular with Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa, Pleasure's Joyous which would have been in many a DJs' crate back in the day. Up-to-date - but also one of the earliest party breaks is Rufus Thomas' The Breakdown that has just been used on Ghostface Killah's latest album. Only on an album of break-beats could you possibly find the disparity between the raw and down right dirty funk of Wilbur Bascombe's Just A Groove In G and the sound of a British-based steel band - a vocal sample, well-used by many including Soul II Soul.
In recent years the kings of the good sample have been DJ Premier and Pete Rock and from their crates we have pilfered Caesar Frazier's Funk It Up as used on Gang Starr's Girl To Next Ex Girl, and a couple very well used by Pete-.-Funk Inc's Kool Is Back and Ernie Hines' Our Generation which was used on the classic Let's Straighten It Out. Other classic breaks we provide include Freda Payne's Unhooked Generation (JVC Force's Strong Island), 24 Carat Black's Ghetto (Young Disciples and Eric B and Rakim) and Joe Tex's wonderful Tramp rip-off Papa Was Too (EPMD's Jane and a thousand others). Just as regularly used is Baby Huey's Hard Times and All The People's Miami funk on Cramp Your Style.
To round up this instalment we bring a trio of awesome soulful moments in the form of Isaac Hayes, the Detroit Emeralds and the William De Vaughan's Be Thankful For What You Got. This can give you hours of sample feeding or listening pleasure depending on your fancy (though if it's the former, contact Chris Lines for clearance).
By Dean Rudland