Sample the sound: how rap changed through its sampled sounds

23.10.2018 | By ELENA LONGARI

Given the fact that modern technology allows you to record a song even with some very compact and basic equipment from the comfort of your bedroom/living room, I’m looking at how hip hop and rap have been changing through the decades according to the their most recognisable sampled sounds.

The flipping air horn

One of the most striking sounds of hip hop that came out in the 00s is the air horn: but probably little you knew that hip hop wasn’t actually the genre that first introduced this deafening sound in music.

It all started back in Jamaica in the late 70s early 80s dancehall parties, in which a physical person would actually hit real air horns.  The person who we can all hold responsible for air horns scaring the s*** out of you is DJ Kool Herc, a dj from Jamaica who moved to the Bronx and started organising these parties like he would back in Jamaica: he was the one who not only did bring to the scene air horn, but also created the ‘break’.  B-boys and b-girls, or simply break-dancers.


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In the early 2000s DJ Cipha Sounds started his radio show Cipha Saturdays and he ended up being the first music expert who introduced  air horns in music as a sampled sound for the first time: he just happened to do it then and there on his computer.

Some would say that air horns are probably one of the most annoying sounds of hip hop and music in general, even when you hear them pumped to the loudest in a club: they truly are deafening things, but the hype they can generate on the dancefloor is undeniable. This is what the music genre of hip hop and rap was all about back in its golden age: hype on top of more hype.


But would you say modern rap gives you the same jumping up and down feel it did back then?


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No, and probably that’s why I haven’t heard a single time –  in Milan at least ‘Let’s check out that trap music club, the dancefloor gets packed’. But in the 00s the music was a totally different type of emotion provider, especially  when it came down to who the DJ would play to have the crowd at his feet: it was a matter of catchy, happy, non-repetitive sounds that would give a tune that special oomph to get  us all pumped even if we had downed barely ½ a gin tonic and it was only 00.34.


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Dr. Dre was a pioneer of the G-funk genre and his samples came from live musicians replaying the original music of sampled records. The initial horns, not air horns, of Dr. Dre’s California Love did get some really good parties started I guess and maybe know for sure.

2pac feat Dr.Dre - California Love

It was 1999 and Snoop Dogg and Dr.Dre gave us that beat and synchronised up and own jumps of the lowriders driven in the video. Snoop was already moaning rap had changed back then,  we are yet to see in 2018 a huge dancefloor hit like his, so guess what he’s moaning about today.

Dr. Dre - Still D.R.E. ft. Snoop Dogg

Not only super happy horns, but still some that make music a better place to live in. Alfamega, T.I. and Busta Rhymes’s horns did not sound like a party, but they have a threatening nature to them. Still, still, catchy as hell.

Hurt- T.I. ft. Busta Rhymes, Alfamega

M.O.P. - Ante Up

We would also hear horns in M.O.P. -Ante Up, where their ode to the perfect robbery would probably sound today like 808 drums beat and a thick layer of synthesizer. In 2011 this horn sample wanted to match New York’s legendary rough club The Tunnel.

Trap: the change of tune of a tune that doesn't change

If back in hip hop golden age we would have party sounds, in 2018 we have the Skrr Skrr.  The absence of pumping sounds, air horns, horns or anything evoquing remotely of a particular atmosphere is compensated with this ‘I’m not sure what to do with my tongue’ recurrence. This is when they are not mumbling

Migos - Narcos

Some variations of Skrr include other guttural practises, such as UHHH or  Skush, Skush.

Seriously, hit these links and answer: what kind of dance would you do to these tunes? To me, if I needed a reason not to dance, trap music would be it. Some disagree, some do excellent remixes of these songs and bring them to clubs, but ain’t a bit like cheating?

Gucci Mane - Kept Back feat. Lil Pump

How to sample sounds

If you want to sample some stuff, if you really must,  here’s how.