Ever wondered where that playful riff from your favourite house tune came from? Or maybe that vocal that you heard at a rave and can’t get out of your head ever since? We’ve got you. After a recent look at samples used in early ’90s hip hop tracks, we’ve dived into the samples of house music, coming across some fine funk, soul, disco and blues, from Gladys Knight to Chic.
Kerri Chandler, Larry Heard, Jayda G, Maya Jane Coles, Octo Octa, Midland and more feature in this list, with a bunch of banging tunes built around classic tracks from way back when. Listen to them below.
RHYTHM CONTROLL ‘MY HOUSE’
There ain’t a house music sample bigger. ‘My House’ was the only release to come from Chicago outfit, but the inspiring ‘In the beginning there was jack…’ speech from Chuck Roberts has been reused and recycled more times than a house DJ’s played a 4/4 track. Essentially a teaching of what house is, in the early days of the genre in 1987, Roberts’ preaching words are probably best known through their use in ‘Can You Feel It?’ by Mr Fingers, aka Larry Heard. House music boffs will smartly point out that the speech didn’t appear on the original release of ‘Can You Feel It?’ in 1986. Instead, they were placed into the track as part of an unofficial remix and soon started to gather attention, becoming just as well known and loved as Larry’s creamy, bassline-powered original. The list of other artists to sample the Chuck Roberts’ sermon is endless, from Todd Terry and Tuff Jam to Nasty Habits and Julio Bashmore.
DEREK & CLIVE ‘BO DUDDLEY’
Everyone knows the acid house days were all about smileys, laughs, and E-motored good times, but it’s a little less known that ‘Voodoo Ray’, one of acid house’s anthems, took its vocals from a comedy stand-up show. A Guy Called Gerald cleverly snipped some words from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s Derek and Clive show, specifically the Bo Duddley sketch. AGCG took the words ‘a sort of voodoo rage’ and edited it to sound like the ‘voodoo ray’ the track’s named after and that you hear in the head-spinnin’ cut.
NITRO DELUXE ‘LET’S GET BRUTAL’
If you’re the loyal DJ Cavon fan you say you are, then you’ll have seen my video with Kevin Saunderson where he explains how Inner City made ‘Big Fun’. In that he mentions how he sampled the riff chord of Nitro Deluxe’s ‘Let’s Get Brutal’. You know, the fruity one that bounces in from the off in ‘Big Fun’. It’s a lot more subtle in ‘Let’s Get Brutal’, but if it wasn’t for that, we might not have the absolute classic that is ‘Big Fun’.
SHIRLEY CAESAR ‘DON’T DRIVE YOUR MAMA AWAY’
King Kerri obviously had to feature in this, but picking one track wasn’t easy. ‘Hallelujah’ came out on top thanks to its sampling of gospel artist Shirley Caesar’s ‘Don’t Drive Your Mama Away’. Vocal chops of ‘hallelujah’, ‘kept on crying’ and ‘yeeeeahhhh’ combine with Kerri’s deep, booming kicks, bristling hi-hats to perfection. Equal parts rave jam and uplifting, motivational messaging. And you’ve got a bunch of versions to choose from, including the Kaoz Club Mix, and the Kaoz ‘6:23’ Gospel Mix.
LIGHTNIN’ HOPKINS ‘MAMA BLUES’
If only American blues singer Lightin’ Hopkins was around to hear the sexy house jam St Germain conjured up around his vocals, riffs and harmonica lines from 1967 track ‘Mama Blues’. French jazz-house maestro St Germain’s ‘Thank U Mum (4 Everything U Did)’ is a bonafide classic, bursting with funk, sleaze and that undeniably classy blues feel.
CHIC ‘I WANT YOUR LOVE’
Moodymann’s Soul Skate parties tell us all we need to know about his love for soul and disco, but then you’ve also just got to check out his back catalogue to see where his influences come from. Chic’s ‘I Want Your Love’ is the most obvious, with the vocals lifted into his 1996 track ‘I Can’t Kick This Feelin’ When It Hits’. They’re on loop for so long, Kenny Dixon Jr, who showed us around Detroit last year, puts you under some sort of house hypnosis.
CHAKA KHAN ‘FATE’
Now, Chaka Khan’s ‘Fate’ is a sizzler in itself, one to turn up loud at an afters when it starts to get light outside and forget about the fact you should probably be starting the next day. Her disco hit was picked out by Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Alan Braxe and Benjamin Diamond as they started to work on what would become ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ under the name Stardust. I’m pretty sure that would have been the go-to tune for a shit-load of parties, too, when it was released in ’98. Still is, to be fair.
HAMILTON BOHANNON ‘ME AND THE GANG’
Listen to that trampolining bassline at the start of Hamilton Bohannon’s ‘Me And The Gang’ and it probably won’t take too long until you realise where you’ve heard it before. If it does, you’ll be kicking yourself for not realising sooner that it was used by Paul Johnson in his 1999 jam ‘Get Get Down’. The vocals from Paul’s cut may be the ones you’re heads infected with post-listening session, but that bassline’s an instant hit when it reverberates through a nightclub.
RARE PLEASURE ‘LET ME DOWN EASY’
Rare Pleasure’s ‘Let Me Down Easy’ is one of those turbo-charged tunes perfect for boosting energy levels. It’s got high-pitched vocals you embarrassingly try to imitate, sizzling saxophone riffs and proper playful piano melodies. It’s those piano chords that David Morales pinched for his sun-drenched tune ‘Needin’ U’. Little did Rare Pleasure know that those chords would be the soundtrack of an incredibly buff Morales parading down a beach in Ibiza for the classic ‘Needin’ U’ video.
BRICK ‘LIVING FROM THE MIND’
Brick’s ‘Living From The Mind’ has you feeling cool AF after a listen. It’s just got that swag and funk, you know? Mainly down to the pulsating melody that runs throughout, and is the foundation of Johnny Corporate’s Ibiza classic ‘Sunday Shoutin’. Pure dancefloor sunshine.
CHIC ‘SOUP FOR ONE’
There’s no denying the class of Modjo’s ‘Lady (Hear Me Tonight)’. Yeah, you might say it’s cheesy house music championed by mainstream radio or a fave of your school disco’s DJ, but it’s a house music classic that will never be forgotten. Modjo pinched the riff from Chic’s relaxation time funk jam ‘Soup For One’, moulding it into the vintage house singalong anthem.
THE SUPREMES ‘COME SEE ABOUT ME’
You might have seen this one mentioned in our recent summery house tracks list. Detroit icon Omar-S samples The Supremes’ Come See About Me’ in his blissful 2007 track ‘Day’. Just a beautiful slice of house music that makes you feel 10-times better in an instant.
TRIPLE X ‘FEEL THE SAME’
2010 was the year Maya Jane Coles’ career rocketed, leading to appearing on the cover of my site in 2011. The reason for this was her rascal of a house track, one of those that that demands a repeat on every listen. Maya’s infectious hit is down to the vocal loop, sampled from disco-house anthem ‘Feel The Same’ from Triple X, released on Ministry Of Sound in 1999. What a tune that is, by the way.
G.Q ‘DISCO NIGHTS’ (12″ DANCE MIX)
G.Q’s ‘Disco Nights’ is one of those carefree tunes perfect for easing yourself into the day. Released on Arista in 1979, it was a major hit in the US, which is no surprise, such is the joyous nature of it. Former Mixmag cover star Jayda G and DJ Fett Burger nodded to the hit’s wriggly riff on their 2015 release ‘NYC Party Track’, a tune that launched their label Freakout Cult (which ceased operating in 2018) and set the wheels in motion for Jayda G becoming the star she is today.
MASS PRODUCTION ‘PEOPLE GET UP’
When end-of-decade list conversations started happening at the end of 2019, Julio Bashmore’s 2011 breakout track ‘Battle For Middle You’ was one that kept cropping up. While those lists are subjective and by no means definitive, you’ve gotta agree that it’s in with a shout, right? Like, listen to those little synth scribbles, that woozy bassline and enticing vocals telling you to ‘get up, stomp your feet, let’s get down’. They come from Mass Production’s 1977 tune ‘People Get Up’, a belter of a cosmic funk track.
AMERIE ‘1 THING’
We crowned Octo Octa – along with Eris Drew – DJ Of The Year in 2019 because her sets are full of pacy house cuts and furious, nostalgia-licked breakbeat tunes that throw you one way, then chuck you another. She’s not just a DJ, though. Her productions fall under a similar umbrella to the tracks she plays, with her releases dating back to 2011 on 100% Silk. Her debut ‘Let Me See You’ EP features ‘I’m Trying’, a calming pad-heavy tune full of choppy samples of Amerie’s r’n’b smash ‘1 Thing’. The end product is delicious.
DEXTER WANSEL ‘TIME IS THE TEACHER’
It’s likely you’ve had a deep dive of house music on YouTube and seen Andrés’ ‘New For U’ in the ‘Up Next’ column. The 2012 cut, a delightfully floaty mix of house and disco, dominated dancefloors upon its release, and it’s understandable. The Detroit DJ and producer turned to Dexter Wansel’s 1978 track ‘Time Is The Teacher’ for the strings in ‘New For U’, winding them in between the dusty kicks to perfection.
THE JOUBERT SINGERS ‘STAND ON THE WORD’ (LARRY LEVAN MIX)
The Black Madonna’s known more as a wicked DJ than a producer, but she’s definitely got banging tracks in her catalogue. The springy house cut ‘Exodus’ is one of these, built around the piano chords and choir vocals from Larry Levan’s Mix of ‘Stand On The Word’ by The Joubert Singers. TBM applies maximum zing to the samples to make it a slammer ripe for the rave.
ANN NESBY ‘LOVIN’ IS REALLY MY GAME’
Robert Hood’s Floorplan alias has provided copious amounts of house-disco-gospel-techno euphoria over the years, countering the heavier-hitting output under his own name. He sampled the vocals from Ann Nesby’s ‘Lovin Is Really My Game’ on ‘Tell You No Lie’, resulting in a relentless house thumper with all the ingredients for sun-beaming dancefloor joy.
GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS ‘NEITHER ONE OF US (WANTS TO BE THE FIRST TO SAY GOODBYE)’
Love songs always hit hard, but Gladys Knight & The Pips ‘Neither One Of Us…’ really pulls at the heartstrings. You can imagine the feels Midland’s ‘Final Credits’ brings then, with him sampling the vocals of the 1973 track. A wicked disco-house cut, ‘Final Credits’ was 2016 track of the year. Not only that, the tune was such a hit, even techno dons like Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann played it out. The latter at Berghain of all places.