Someone recently heard an advance copy of my soon to be released 100 Breaks Part 2 mix and asked how I found all the samples. The funny thing is that I really didn’t have a clear answer and was forced to sit back and analyse all the record research and digging habits that have become ingrained ingrained in my behavior. Listed below are some of my favorites.
- Follow The Leader – If someone has already sampled an artist chances are that there are more hot used and unused breaks & samples by that very same artist.
- Follow The Musicians & Producers – So you like that crazy piano sample, sound, or that unique feeling the song seems to evoke? Guess what, you can probably find that same artist playing even better on another album. Many times musicians and producers worked on different projects with each other and you can catch someone early on in their career putting down some great sounds with another group.
- Watch The Year – Just like the golden age of Hip Hop, each genre has had its highs and lows and there are virtually no exceptions. Jazz, Funk, Soul, and Rock have all had their great time periods containing distinctive styles of the times.
- Know Your Resources – Read the All Music Guide, Read album liners, online sample databases, Wax Poetics, sample dictionary books.
- Make Friends With Diggers – Although digging is generally very secretive and almost anitsocial, if you have a friend that knows their stuff you can both put each other up on records while digging. My friend DJ Trends and I have a tendency to bounce breaks off of each other and let one another know of digging spots.
- Trust Your Intuition – A certain spidey sense tends to develop after spending a bit of time getting dusty in the bins and over the years I’ve cycled through a few different digging theories of this type. For example, I-ve been know to pay close attention to a record with circle wear on the cover, looking for that radio station dj copy with a certain track circled, and records with funk or soul in the title. I know it sounds silly, but it actually works.
- Become A Label Whore – Many of the best artists had a tendency to hang around the same label and be produced by the same people. Some of the more known examples of this are Kudu, Blue Note, Westbound, and CTI.
- Develop Your Ear, Personal Style, And Love For Music – This is probably the most important piece of the lesson. You will only become a successful digger if you truly have a love of music. This may be beyond the comprehension of many; however loving Hip Hop and loving music are two completely different concepts. I know many people who claim to love music, but the only time they listen to anything other than Hip Hop is when they are looking for samples. Most diggers I know would rather listen to Soul, Funk, Rock or Jazz than Hip Hop. For some reason it’s a natural progression to appreciate the true creativity of the original players. After falling in love with an artist’s work and really getting into their catalog, you’ll eventually be able to recognize the styles of many musicians and develop the ability to guess an artist when you hear them playing on another unknown track.
- Purchase A Portable Turntable – This is the single most important factor that has caused a great increase in my digging success. I have saved an immense amount of time, money, and aggravation by avoiding worthless records. I’ve also been able to pick up many records that I would have passed over and would have never known about because of the fear of taking a risk and plunking down large sums for unknown records with nothing on them. The investment hurts a little bit in the beginning, but the key word is investment and it eventually pays huge dividends.
- Keep An Open Mind – Listen to everything and I mean everything, except for Country of course! You will stumble upon finds in some of the most surprising areas and genres. Also, to contradict my earlier tip… don’t judge a record by its cover. You will find great breaks and samples on some of the worst looking covers.