Fans recognize that once a brand-new Beyoncé, Kanye or Diplo monitor drops, that will likely contain a music sample — an instrumental or vocal nugget native a tune of yesteryear. The nugget will be rearranged, looped or otherwise given brand-new context. Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” because that example, didn’t just present us to an unexplained dance style; the sped-up sampling of an 1972 R&B struggle reintroduced the world to Timmy Thomas and also the distinctive win of “Why Can’t we Live Together.”

There’s one tune that’s been sampled far much more than any kind of other, according to one measure. The website WhoSampled.com, whose audience obsessively monitor what’s sampled, states that a 1960s track called “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons is the most-sampled monitor in history, and also it’s not particularly close. By its count, much more than 2,000 songs have sampled a details drum beat native “Amen, Brother” it is now recognized as the Amen Break. As you pat the clip below, you can hear the The Winstons’ drummer, G.C. Coleman, play the absent drums, snare drums and also cymbals in a funky four-bar pattern.

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But what is it around a 47-year-old, six-second drum solo native a fairly unknown soul band that’s offered it musical immortality? The answer entails the innovation of two new musical genres, a brand-new piece of modern technology and a power blackout.

TRACKARTISTYEARNO. OF time SAMPLEDMost sampled tracks
1Amen, BrotherThe Winstons19692,239
2Change the to win (Female Version)Beside19821,853
3Think (About It)Lyn Collins19721,588
4Funky DrummerJames Brown19701,302
5La Di Da DiDoug E. Fresh1985794
6Funky president (People the Bad)James Brown1974736
7Bring the NoisePublic Enemy1987686
8Synthetic SubstitutionMelvin Bliss1973658
9Impeach the PresidentThe love husband Drippers1973650
10Here we Go (Live at the Funhouse)Run-DMC1985635

Source: whosampled.com

Every day, fanatical music lover identify thousands of samples from songs old and brand-new and add them wiki-style come the database of WhoSampled.com. Kris Read, the head of contents there, vets each new entry through his team of moderators prior to it renders it ~ above the site.Since WhoSampled is crowdsourced, it has potential blind spots like any type of crowdsourced database. However it’s the ideal database of who sampled what the I’ve seen.

">1 end the critical eight years, much more than 400,000 song featuring an ext than 225,000 samples have been cleared. Until last year, the Amen rest was to run neck and also neck for the many sampled spot with a vocal sample native Fab 5 Freddy and also Beside’s “Change the Beat,” which attributes a distorted variation of someone speak the phrase, “Ahhh, this ingredient is yes, really fresh.” but as the WhoSampled database has expanded out of its hip-hop root to cover various other genres end the last couple of years, the Amen Break has taken the clean lead because of its versatility. Artist who have actually used the break include at an early stage hip-hop plot such as N.W.A., electronic music pioneers The Prodigy, the heavy metal band Slipknot, Janet Jackson — even David Bowie.

According to early on hip-hop producer louis “BreakBeat Lou” Flores, DJ legend Afrika Bambaataa was the one who first broke the end the “Amen Break.” It remained in the late-1970s, and also DJ society had just obtained a fingerhold in new York City. The first MCs — impresarios such together Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and also Bambaataa himself — had started spinning their favorite tracks at clubs and parties, inspiring their young followers through a treasure trove the danceable beats. These MCs were currently highly competitive with one another; they hoarded their favorite albums and also masked the identity of your favorite tracks (much less complicated to carry out in the pre-Shazam days).

That competition was taken to one more level after the NYC blackout of 1977. The oft-told story goes that extensive looting of digital shops resulted in a proliferation the otherwise prohibitively high value turntables and other audio tools into poorer neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn; together a result, the variety of DJs multiplied overnight.

MCs trying to find an edge had to dig also deeper right into the archives the rock, funk and also Motown records that offered their beats. Flores, who MC’d v Bambaataa, said that Bambaataa had discovered the track “Amen, Brother” top top the B-side the a once-popular 1969 soul document by The Winstons, and also kept the in his secret stash. (Attempts to with Bambaataa, who has recently to be accused of having actually committed sexual abuse in the 1980s, with his lawyer were unsuccessful.) The totality song to be eminently danceable, however the party really gained going during that six-second drum break a minute and also a fifty percent into the track. Flores claimed Bambaataa would slow-moving the malfunction — going native a 45 rpm come 33⅓ rpm — and also play the again and also again as B-Boys (or “break boys”) tore it up on the dance floor.


In 1981, Flores, simply 15 years old at the time, and his organization partner, Lenny Roberts, made decision to display off the diversity of early hip-hop impacts by collecting your favorite songs right into one record, and also in doing so revealed Bambaataa’s secret. In enhancement to “Do the Funky Penguin” by Rufus Thomas and “Mary, Mary” by The Monkees, their record “Ultimate division & Beats” contained “Amen, Brother” — through the slowed-down variation of the Amen Break.

Flores claimed that at first “Ultimate breaks & Beats” offered modestly — greatly to society DJs — however in 1984 a brand-new recording modern technology called a sampler do it possible to great music samples throughout songs. A sampler was usually a fancy tape recorder that enabled anyone to document a sound and play that again and again at various pitches in ~ the touch the a button. Every one of a sudden, musician of all stripes started hunting down your favorite breaks, and “Ultimate Breaks and Beats” became a warm seller once again. By 1986, there was enough demand to re-release the album, the very first in a series of 25 quantities of “Ultimate breaks & Beats” that Flores would produce.

GENRENO. OF songs SAMPLING ‘AMEN, BROTHER’Number of songs the sample ‘Amen, Brother’ by genre
Electronic/dance1,984
Hip-hop/R&B127
Rock/pop57
Soundtrack44
Other20

The soundtrack group largely consists of songs from video game soundtracks.

Source: whosampled.com

By the beforehand 1990s, the Amen rest wasn’t simply being used by acts such as Rob Base and Heavy D, that had come to be one of the foundational to win of an entirely brand-new electronic run music genre: jungle. Tropical artists often accelerated the break, sliced that up into individual north hits, rearranged it, and played it because that minutes in ~ a time if layering techno, reggae and a melt pot of other sounds on optimal of it. Since the Amen break is a short, drums-only breakbeat, that sounds an excellent at all sorts that speeds and also with all sorts that alterations, do it straightforward to loop and quite adaptable to all sorts of genres. “You have the right to whack basically any kind of sample, loop, synth or bassline end it, and it’ll sound ‘good,’” said Yoël Bego through email. Bego creates all sorts of digital dance music under the DJ name cacao Bryce and used the break in his brand-new track “Massiv.” also after Jungle’s popularity began to ebb before 2000, the Amen Break kept the beat.

But over there are numerous drums-only, easily alterable breakbeats out there that could work; what provides the Amen special? A the majority of artists seem to think the there’s miscellaneous special about the drumming itself; Flores calls castle “big dirty drums.”

“Amen has a sort of swing — a lot of character,” stated Read, an accomplished DJ and producer himself. “There’s a lot walking on between the kicks and also snares.”

“There aren’t countless recordings that room so distorted however still sound therefore good,” add to Boris English, a tropical DJ who goes by the stagename Borai and also has offered the Amen rest in tracks including Never As good and The Seeker. “If you try and re-record the break played specifically the exact same by one more drummer it never sounds together good.”

G.C. Coleman, The Winstons’ drummer that actually play the initial Amen Break, never ever made any type of money indigenous its popularity; he passed away homeless in 2006. His bandmate in The Winstons, front guy Richard Spencer, likewise did not benefit from the widespread use of his band’s music. But in 2015, a pair of brothers DJs launch a GoFundMe drive asking people who have actually benefited from the Amen rest to give back. Two versions that the drive have now netted Spencer virtually $33,000.

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Once you have the distinctive beat of the Amen break in your head, you can hear the in all sorts the places: the cropped up in the “Futurama” template song, ~ above the title display of “The Powerpuff Girls,” on “SimCity 4,” also in Jeep ads. While few of its latent popularity is likely because of nostalgia — or perhaps even a an outcome of one industrywide in-joke a la the Wilhelm scream — review thinks that it’s now simply end up being a standard go-to in plenty of studios. “A lot of producers use it without having actually known they offered it,” the said.