“These are the breaks!”

-Kurtis Blow

Amen Brek

I was banging out some loops in the studio in the afternoon and I brought up the Amen Break with a friend. Usually when you name drop that bad boy you get somebody to start tapping it out. Instead he just looked at me blankly. I started explaining the provenance of Gregory Coleman drumming out this little loop in The Winston’s song “Amen, Brother” and I started tapping it out for him. He recognized it as being close to the loop in the opening of the Powerpuff Girls. That’s fair enough as it’s an incredibly popular and often sampled drum break. It did get me thinking though. There is a lack of respect for the original creators of some incredibly popular drum breaks. We’re in an odd 3rd (at least) generation of sampling where we are hearing samples of samples. When this happens the original drummer gets zero credit unless mentioned by name in the song itself.

It didn’t use to be that way. There’s this amazing collection of songs that all had at least one great break in them: Ultimate Breaks and Beats. The compilation itself came out in the 1980s and led to scores of people sampling these great bits of music. If something similar were to come out today it’d probably just be hacked up pieces of music and it would lose all it’s mixtape-street-cred. Later compiled in 2006 to CD form for convenience. Later in 2008 DJ Superix compiled every single break from every volume of “Ultimate Breaks and Beats” into one mix  “Ultimate, Ultimate, Ultimate!”. If you’ve got the bucks you should go find a way to get all the tracks in their full glory. I’m giving you that full list as required listening for anyone trying to mash out anything they want to call hip-hop.

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