Musicians who sample other people’s work are derided in some quarters, accusing of lifting existing loops, riffs and vocals because they’re not talented enough to come up with their own. However, while it’s undeniably the case that some samples are lazily employed simply as hooks to reel listeners in, when they’re crafted with care and skill, sample-based compositions can be every bit as artistic as those played on guitars and keyboards.
One thing to note is that as well as including direct samples, we’ve also allowed in replays that don’t stray too far from their source material (ie, note for note recreations of riffs, basslines etc). With that made clear, let’s start the countdown with 3rd Bass’s Sons of 3rd Bass.
Hip-hop trio 3rd Bass were MC Serch, Pete Nice and DJ Richie Rich. Rising to prominence on Def Jam after Beastie Boys, the lyrics in Sons of 3rd Bass have been interpreted as a criticism of Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock, who’d acrimoniously defected to Capital prior to the 1989 release of The Cactus Album, the long-player that the song comes from.
But what of the sample? The main riff and brass stabs are lifted from Spinning Wheel by Blood, Sweat & Tears, which appeared on the band’s eponymous 1968 album and was released as a single in 1969.