A few weeks ago I did an absurdly detailed breakdown of the "hey!" vocal sample in James Brown's "Funky President." Turns out y'all really dug the article because you're gigantic rap nerds very awesome human beings, so there was really only one choice. Get even rap nerdier more awesome.
Next up, there was really only one natural choice. Not only did DJBooth Nation member The Thin White Duke suggest it, but I spent so long digging into how obsessed Kanye was with the "hey!" sample, I had to follow with the only sample Yeezy is even more obsessed with; Mountain's "Long Red."
Now, just like "Funky President," "Long Red" has been used for its drum break and instrumentals repeatedly, at least over 150 times. According to the incredible folks at WhoSampled, who were also kind enough to hook me up with all the information for this article, "Long Red" has appeared in everything from multiple Pete Rock beats to Dilla's "Stepson of the Clapper."
The instrumental sample has already been well chronicled, but here I want to specifically focus on the "Louder!" and "Yeah!' and you hear at the eight and nine second mark, which should be pretty instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever listened to hip-hop ever.
I'll pause here to let anyone who's never heard the original before to have a moment of epiphany. Yeah, there's really nothing better than hearing the original source of a sample. Hip-hop's the greatest.
Now, let's move onto the specifics...
Kanye Fucking Loves Him Some "Long Red"
You thought Kanye was obsessed with using that "Hey!" from "Funky President"? The man's obsessed-obsessed with using the "yeah!" and "louder" from "Long Red." Like he probably kicks Kim out of bed at night so he can make tender, passionate love to that "Louder!". Beyond even his production, he's used rocking that sample on an MPC as a staple of his live show for years now.
The first Kanye use was in "Barry Bonds," but since then he's also used it in "Niggas in Paris." (I know Hit-Boy did that beat, but come on, the use of this sample plus the Hey!" from "Funky President" is all the proof you should need that Kanye had a direct hand in it.) And those are just his songs. On the production side, he also brought it out for Common's "The People," Pusha T's "Who I Am" and, of course, made it a foundation of Game's "Wouldn't Get Far."
Again, just like "Hey!," Kanye's obsession with "Long Red" is a direct link between him and the producers we know he looked up to when he was starting out, including Pete Rock, Dilla and No I.D. "Long Red" has been used for literally decades by some of the most classic of classic producers and artists. For example:
- Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth "Good Life"
- Public Enemy "Louder Than a Bomb"
- A Tribe Called Quest "Glamour and Glitz"
- Eric B. feat. Rakim "My Melody"
- Roxanna Shante "Independent Woman"
Whether it's Kanye's influence in turn of their own efforts to dig back through history, the "Yeah" and "Louder!" is very much alive and kicking among a lot of the new generation of artists. Kendrick Lamar alone has used it three times: on "Don't Understand," "She Needs Me" and "Keisha's Pain."
And in addition to the almighty K. Dot, we're talking a who's who of young artists, including:
- Chance the Rapper "Chain Smoker"
- Logic "Man of the Year"
- Meek Mill "Who You're Around"
- Watsky "Whoa Whoa Whoa"
- G-Eazy "The Day It All Changed"
Let's close out this section with some A$AP Rocky "Purple Kisses".
You know what's insane? I've barely even begun to scratch the surface of the surface; there's literally still well over one-hundred more examples. How about some Mos Def or Dead Prez or Ghostface? Or some Nas or Eminem or NWA? Or some Beyonce or Lana Del Ray or...hey, is that Vanilla Ice?
More than anything, it's mind blowing to think that this '70s rock band that's otherwise completely faded into obscurity has been linked to more hip-hop songs than almost anyone ever. For about three decades now hip-hop has undergone seismic shifts, but in a very real way, the one constant has been Mountain's "Long Red." All praise the men of Mountain. Yeah! LOUDER!!!
Oh, and did I mention that WhoSampled were absurdly kind in hooking me up with a lot of this research? I did? Well I'll mention it again, cause they're the greatest. If you're not on WhoSampled daily already, question your life priorities.
UPDATE: Yo, if it wasn't clear in the write up, I literally got a list of over 175 samples, and that's just the ones that used the vocals (as opposed to the instrumental as well.) I couldn't list every single one here, there's almost 400, so I tried to do a representative sample. Don't see one you know? I can almost guarantee you I didn't forget it, just didn't have space. Definitely check WhoSampled for even more.
Hit the comments with your personal favorite example. Rap nerding out is the best use of all of our time. And I mean that completely un-sarcastically.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]