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January 5, 2001



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 ForMen > gear > These Are the Breaks 2

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These Are the Breaks 2

10 more original breaks, plus five bonus rock breaks! Hear them in both WAV and MP3 formats.

January 5, 2001

A few weeks ago I did a piece called These Are the Breaks. It highlighted 10 of the original breakbeats that have been repeatedly sampled into hip-hop and dance music. Choosing just 10, however, was a very difficult task. I'm a break fiend and wanted to throw them all in there. Instead of trying to do it all in one, big article, I've decided to do a series of them, spotlighting a number of different break styles.

Today's 10 breaks are largely funk breaks, although a few of them you could call disco. I've also included five bonus rock breaks -- yes, rock music has yielded some pretty sweet (and funky) beats. Most of the breaks are pre-chopped -- just download them and loop them.

The first article featured the breaks in wave format. I did this because I figured some of you might want to download them and use them in your own music. However, a number of you wrote in complaining about the download size. This time I've got them in both wave and MP3 format -- hear it on MP3 first and then download the wave. (If you try to download the wave and it shows up as an MP3, adjust the "Save As..." setting in the download dialog box. Your media player may want to download everything as an MP3.)

And now... These Are the breaks!

Break: Funky Drummer
Song: "Funky Drummer"
Artist: James Brown
Hear It: WAV, MP3
When sampling first hit big in the late 80s, everybody and their grandma rocked the Funky Drummer. It's easy to see why. James Brown's rhythm section was tight as all get-out, and it really shows on this cut. Those flams are amazing! Give it up for Clyde Stubblefield. No, I'm serious -- do that right now.

Break: Nautilus
Song: "Nautilus"
Artist: Bob James
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Jazz man Bob James, creator of the famed Mardi Gras break, spawned the Nautilus, a swinging, keyboard-infused break. Everybody's used this but Run-D.M.C.'s "Beats To My Rhyme" comes immediately to mind. If you're looking for Bob James records, stay away from anything after Three ("Nautilus" is on One and "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" is on Two). After Three he got unbelievably cheesy.

Break: S.W.A.T.
Song: "Theme From S.W.A.T."
Artist: Rhythm Heritage
Hear It: WAV, MP3
If you want to be a stickler, you could argue that a break can only be a break if it's a drum solo. Usually I'd agree with you (a piano solo isn't a "break") but when it comes to funky basslines I'm going to have to let it slide. Case in point is S.W.A.T., the sweet-ass break from the middle of Rhythm Heritage's version of the theme to the TV show S.W.A.T. The main melody for "Theme From S.W.A.T." is also nice, as used by LL Cool J on "I'm Bad" (and later DeeJay Punk-Roc when he bit LL on "My Beatbox").

Break: Chase
Song: "Hot Wheels (The Chase)"
Artist: Badder Than Evil
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Another break that bucks the rules. The Chase break has guitar and bass in it, but damn if it isn't funky. This one has been used in lots of breakbeat and big beat stuff, including the Freestylers' "Start the Panic" (which uses almost the entire song). Badder Than Evil only released one album, which was in 1973. Man I love this break.

Break: It's Just Begun
Song: "It's Just Begun"
Artist: The Jimmy Castor Bunch
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Bonus! Hear the Intro: WAV, MP3
Jimmy Castor is the man. The Everything Man to be exact. This guy could sing, compose, play sax, bang out the percussion, and rock the joint with everything from ballads to psych-funk to hilarious jams like "Bertha Butt Boogie" and "King Kong." It's his "It's Just Begun," however, that he's best known for. The entire song smokes, from the sax intro (which I've also included) to the freak-out guitar solo end. I highly recommend you track down the album It's Just Begun -- it's also got "Troglodyte," which has the vocal bit, "What we're gonna do right here is go back -- way back, back into time."

Break: Grunt
Song: "The Grunt"
Artist: The JB's
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Aw yeah, I know you know this. This loop single-handedly defined the Public Enemy sound, and thus a hundred other records. Maceo's rising horn squeal has been sampled so many times it's not even funny. The rest of "The Grunt" is amazing too. There's like four Public Enemy songs in there.

Break: Rocksteady
Song: "Rocksteady"
Artist: Aretha Franklin
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Yes, that's right, the Queen of Soul has her own break. It's quite a doozy as well. And what a great song -- play it at any party and the joint will be jumping by the time it's through.

Break: Good Old Music
Song: "Good Old Music"
Artist: Funkadelic
Hear It: WAV, MP3
For being so funky, Funkadelic didn't have all that many breaks. Their first, self-titled album, however, has two, including this one. Everybody from the Jungle Brothers to the Freestylers (these guys again?) have made use of it. You'll recognize it by the trademark snapping sounds and weird vocals.

Break: Sing Sing
Song: "Sing Sing"
Artist: Gaz
Hear It: WAV, MP3
OK, this is technically a disco break but it's so damn funky, you'd never guess. Gaz put this out on Salsoul in 1978 and it's still used regularly to this day. Actually I'm a big fan of disco breaks, probably because they're so unexpected. You're waiting for the break in the funk songs, but with disco, when they break the 4/4 and get all clever, it really catches you off guard. Other good disco breaks are La Pregunta's Shangri La and GQ's Rock Freak.

Break: I Know You Got Soul
Song: "I Know You Got Soul"
Artist: Bobby Byrd
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Bobby Byrd was James Brown's sideman for almost 20 years. When James yelled out, it was usually Bobby that answered back. Bobby got to shine on his own with "I Know You Got Soul," a stomper in the James Brown tradition. Eric B. and Rakim used the chorus to great effect, but it's the opening bit that has the break.

Bonus Rock Breaks

Break: Rock Music
Song: "Rock Music"
Artist: Jefferson Starship
Hear It: WAV, MP3
The original hip-hop DJs -- Afrika Bambaataa, Kool DJ Herc, Grandmaster Flash -- played it all. It didn't matter whose name was on the label, or what genre bin it came from. If it was funky, it got spun. Case in point is Jefferson Airplane's "Rock Music." Hey, there's a long, isolated beat at the beginning of the cut and that's all that counts. De La Soul sampled the chorus from this for their "Cool Breeze on the Rocks" as well.

Break: Levee
Song: "When the Levee Breaks"
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Bonham was an amazing drummer. He loved James Brown and funk, and you can hear it in his beats. Sure, he pounded the crap out of his drums but he was also able to keep it funky. A powerhouse that can swing is a definite rarity.

Break: Mary Mary
Song: "Mary Mary"
Artist: The Monkees
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Ever wondered why Run-D.M.C. decided to cover a lame Monkees song? Because the opening beat was a huge hip-hop break. No kidding. I read this story about Afrika Bambaataa, who used to play the Mary Mary break all the time. Breakdancers would come up to him after and say how much they liked his breaks, and he'd say, well, you were just dancing to The Monkees. They'd get all freaked out about it.

Break: Walk This Way
Song: "Walk This Way"
Artist: Aerosmith
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Again, it was no coincidence that Run-D.M.C. did "Walk This Way," as this was a huge break. Good song too.

Break: Mexican
Song: "The Mexican"
Artist: Babe Ruth
Hear It: WAV, MP3
Babe Ruth was a rock band from England in the early 70s who also happened to cut a few records with funky breaks. "The Mexican" is their best known one, thanks to its incessant bassline. The Chemical Brothers have used it as well as Organized Konfusion and tons others. It's a tough record to beat juggle because the break is so short, but if you can keep it going, that's the shizz. Also check out their "Keep Your Distance."

Before anybody writes to me all mad because I left out Billy Squier's "Big Beat," I'm well aware of this oversight. I just don't own the record. Damn.

Next time I'm going to spotlight some really obscure breaks. Moog breaks, soul breaks, African funk breaks, and more. Breaks you've never heard before.

Adam Douglas likes it when it's tight

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