Thursday, October 21, 2010

Behind The Sample: Lafayette Afro Rock Band - 'Darkest Light'

You've heard it before. That smoother-than-smooth horn loop is recognizable from the very onset of the first note. So indelible, you could probably hum it in your sleep. "Rump Shaker!" you call out with abandon to all decency.

Yes, I am talking about the "Rump Shaker" - that lovably tacky 1992 rap hit from Wreckx-N-Effect. It was a single that climbed to the top of the charts and caused its fair share of complaints. Afterall, the video was basically everything The Grind at the MTV Beach House wanted to be - beach babes in bikinis dancing to funky beats. It was a celebration of the simple things in life.

Wreckx-N-Effect - "Rump Shaker"

But the sexy saxophone that got all those ladies shaking dates back a heck of a lot longer than 1992!

Let's take the wayback machine to 1975 - a time when a group from New York, called Lafayette Afro Rock Band, was struggling to overcome obscurity by pursuing a career in France.

Taking cues from African rhythms and beats, Lafayette Afro Rock Band only received the widespread critical success they deserved years after disbanding. Today, the group is heralded as one of the most influential funk bands of the '70s and their music has become amongst the most heavily sampled in hip-hop. Their song, "Darkest Light", written by band member Michael McEwan, could even be regarded as one of the best break-beat samples of all time. "Why?" you may ask. Well, let me show you.

Lafayette Afro Rock Band - "Darkest Light" (1975)

But the story doesn't end there. It merely begins.

Before ever being picked up as a raunchy summer anthem, "Darkest Light" first had to undergo its most important revival.

When Public Enemy's epic album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, dropped in 1988, it forever changed the hip-hop game. The album's ingenious, biting lyrics were woven over heavy samples, including jazz and funk.

On the interlude track, "Show 'Em Whatcha Got" (via YouTube), Public Enemy take "Darkest Light" for a fresh spin. The horns loop, the bass thumps and Chuck D and Flavor Flav call out, "Public Enemy Number One" and "Show 'Em Whatcha Got!" respectively throughout.

Public Enemy's sampling of the Lafayette Afro Rock Band song created a resurgence for the classic funk band's music.

Below is a list of some other songs that have sampled "Darkest Light." For audio/video links, simply click the song titles:
The song received one of its most popular and high-profile samples to date on Jay-Z's massive 2006 single, "Show Me What You Got."

Besides sampling the original horn loop from Lafayette Afro Rock Band, Jay-Z invokes Flavor Flav's notorious call from Public Enemy's "Show 'Em Whatcha Got."

Now, that's what I call a sample.

Jay-Z - "Show Me What You Got" (2006)


Anonymous said...

Maybe you'd like to credit me as writer of "Darkest Light", since I wrote it.
Michael McEwan

Tae said...

I've updated the post, per your request. It's truly one of my favorite songs, so I'm honored you visited the site. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me what film the song beat features in?