Crate Kings » Equipment » The Top 9 Most Influential Digital Samplers In Hip-Hop History

The Top 9 Most Influential Digital Samplers In Hip-Hop History

December 10, 2007

Every time I saddle up to bang some beats out of my Akai MPC 2000XL the internal debate arises inside of me about how the greatest pieces of Hip-Hop production equipment would stack up when lined up alongside each other. Obviously, in terms of technical specifications, the latest technology with win out every time; however, what equipment made the most valuable contribution could be debated for years on end. What makes this topic so great is that everyone has a favorite producer, style, and time period that contributes to their view and infallible opinion about which sampler is truly king. So in the name of classic, never ending arguments about top MC’s, DJ‘s, and best beefs, we present, in perfect order, the 9 greatest digital samplers in Hip-Hop history.

  1. EMU SP-1200/SP-12.  Considered the godfather of digital samplers and foundation of countless hits from late eighties and early to mid nineties, the SP-1200 was released in 1987 and featured an integrated disk drive and mere 10 seconds of sampling time. (Pete Rock, Clark Kent, Da Beatminerz, DJ Spinna)
  2. Akai MPC 2000/2000XL.   Arguably the most popular hardware sampler, the MPC 2000 was released in 1997. The 2000 XL model was later released in the year 2000 and added features such as zone sample editing, improved sequencing, and the ability to add an internal IDE zip or Compact Flash drive. (Kanye West, Pete Rock, Da Beatminerz, Kev Brown)
  3. Ensoniq ASR-10.   As an update to the EPS 16+, the ASR 10 featured extremely powerful DSP and a unique live recording feature making the keyboard a complete production workstation. (Alchemist, Kanye West, RZA, Minnesota)
  4. Akai S950.   Released in 1988 as an upgrade to the S900, features such as increased memory and the all important time stretch were introduced to a new generation of producers. (DJ Premier, Clark Kent)
  5. FL Studio.   With an unprecedented low price tag, this now infamous software DAW brought Hip-Hop production into the hands of anyone with a reliable computer and soundcard. In essence, FL Studio can be credited with bringing Hip-Hop production into the mainstream. (9th Wonder, Soulja Boy)
  6. Akai MPC 3000.   Released in 1994, the MPC 3000 improved upon the MPC 60 by adding 16 bit stereo sampling and dynamic digital filters along with increased sampling time. This was also the last of the Akai line that was designed by Roger Linn. (J Dilla, Havoc, DJ Shadow, DJ Spinna)
  7. Akai MPC 60/MPC 60 II.  As the first of Roger Linn’s partnership with Akai, the MPC 60 was released in 1988 and featured 12 bit sampling along with an 8 line LCD display. The introduction of the MPC 60 II in 1991 added a headphone jack and cheaper case design. (DJ Premier, D.R. Period) \
  8. Akai MPC 4000.   As the master of all MPC’s, the 4000 was released in 2002 and came standard with memory expandable to 512 megs, internal hard drive, and filter and effects processing. (Madlib, Just Blaze, Heatmakerz, Buckwild)
  9. Ensoniq EPS 16+ – Released in 1991 as an update to the EPS and added 16 bit sampling, DSP effects, and is known for having an early crunchy sound. (El P, True Master)

**Future Additions and Honorable Mentions:  

  • Propellerheads Reason.   Arguably a more powerful program than FL Studio, Reason tends to have a substantially longer learning curve. 
  • MV- 8800  Could be slated to be the MPC killer if the price tag was lower and software production tools weren’t so prominent.  
  • MPC 1000  Could very well turn this into a top ten list very soon if the issues with faulty pads are corrected and development of the JJ OS continues.

Related posts:

  1. Akai MPC5000 OS 2.0 Released
  2. 8-Bit Digital Sampler Hack – Where’s The Party At?
  3. Digital Performer 7 Released By MOTU
  4. 88 Keys Interview: First Samplers, Mos Def, & Black Star
  5. PreSonus Releasing StudioLive 16.4.2 Digital Mixer

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Grammys Throw Us A Curve | Classical 101 - WOSU Public Media
February 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

in LA June 7, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Just a side note on the 3k… Quik is tha illest to touch it…


groovy July 20, 2008 at 11:21 pm

lol @ fruity loops and soulja boy lol are u serious?


Semantik July 20, 2008 at 11:28 pm

I didn’t say it was a good influence… I just said most influential. Souja Boy is an example of someone that uses Fruity Loops. Can you really deny that FL changed the game? Anyone with a laptop can make beats now… that’s very significant if you ask me.


Big g July 21, 2008 at 7:13 am

Yo semantik
The mv8800 is destined to knocked them all out the box….The MPC KIllah!


D.I.C.E. September 16, 2008 at 11:00 pm



king james September 30, 2008 at 1:07 pm

dont 4 get dr dre on the akai 3000 and jus my opinion reason is the best but there is a slight leaning curve but if u r about the craft of production you’ll take the tyme 2 learn jus dilla dre an others did with the akai mpcs and the sp12 an 1200 but still keep it hip hop much lov


JVC March 17, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Madlib mainly use Roland SP-303, he even said on some interview that he does not like MPC-4000 and he rarely uses it. I heard Jay Dilla also used SP-303 often.
SP1200 has to be the most influential digital samplers in hip hop history. Other samplers that should be mentioned is ASR-X series (known for great sound, and bad sequencing, has build-in sound library.) I believe Timbaland used to use it.


J Bickford February 8, 2012 at 4:04 am

Yes- Dilla and Madlib have praised the Roland SP 303. I learned on the 202 in ’97. Now I can take my SP404sx on the bus; 6 aa batteries and an sd card and I can sample to 120 pads and chop up to 120 patterns for 400 bucks? yessir. There’s a big thick uncompressed wav. file comin from this little box. true story.


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