Hubert Laws Sample Appreciation
June 19, 2008, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Breaks, Producers

Hubert Laws – ‘Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again’
taken from Romeo & Juliet (CBS, 1976)

Onyx – ‘Shout’
taken from All We Got Iz Us (JMJ, 1995)

Onyx – ‘Shout (Pete Rock Remix)’
taken from Shout (Remix)/Most Def VLS (JMJ White Label, 1998)

Jazz Liberatorz – ‘I Am Hip Hop’ feat. Asheru
taken from Clin d’Oeil (Kif, 2008)

I’ve already shared this little gem of a sample with the heads over at the Pete Rock forum and it should be familiar to you too if you were one of the 839 (!) people to download my Pete Rock Breaks & Beats Mix. However, given that it constitutes perhaps my favourite ten seconds from the entire archives of fusion jazz it more than deserves its fair share of airtime here at FDB. This short yet astoundingly beautiful sample is tailor-made for transposition into slammin’ boom bap, explaining the two and four-bar straight loop format adopted by Fredro Starr and Pete Rock on the two existing versions of the criminally slept-on Onyx anthem ‘Shout’. Having said this, the Jazz Liberatorz’ deftly executed chops sound pretty good too… either way, this particular groove goes hard.

Before delving into the ins and outs of the different ways in which it has been flipped, I feel compelled to comment on why I feel that this sample works so well. Not only does it already hover around the mid-90s mark in terms of bpm, but it’s the way in which the wonderfully clean Fender Rhodes part is framed at either end:Hubert Laws’s flute melts into the break as it begins and it is perfectly rounded off in the final half bar by achingly beautiful strings. Ultimately this means that it is an incredibly malleable sample, as it is clean enough to chop succinctly and yet offers just as much if left untampered with. Pete Rock follows the second school of thought for the Onyx remix, literally dropping the break over heavy drums and adding an extra touch of flava with a Biz Markie vocal sample. Although the sound quality of this white label rip is relatively low, I’d have to say that this is probably my favourite of the three usages presented here simply because it allows something that is already flawless to shine. And no, it’s not just because it’s Pete Rock. I can occasionally muster a little objectivity you know…

Yet stating a preference here is a little unnecessary as both the original mix and the Jazz Liberatorz’ cut are bangin’. I’ve written before about Onyx’s sophomore effort All We Got Iz Us and ‘Shout’ endures as a song that never fails to threaten the longevity of the well-oiled machine that is my neck. Fredro Starr opts for just the first two bars of the break, adding swirling vocal screams into the composition to add a little Onyx-style zest. With filtered bass line and heavy drums in tow this track easily stands its own against the crew’s classic moshpit-inducing anthem ‘Slam’ and represents the Queens outfit’s inimitable charm as well as anything else that they ever put together. The Jazz Liberatorz’ certainly do a little more with the sample (I wonder if it may have been replayed), but it maintains its core essence and provides Asheru with the opportunity to contribute to one of the best songs from what must be one of the most overlooked releases of the year so far.

I had originally intended for this post to simply focus on the original Onyx mix (this one has been in a pipeline for a minute), but I simply couldn’t hold back from sharing all three of these interpretations due to the remarkably high standard that they represent collectively. Although I fully appreciate the work done by Starr et. al., it would be impossible to deny that it is the exquisite quality of the sample source that does most of the hard work here. Check for it at the 5.35 mark: this is digger’s gold folks.


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