The 30 Greatest Hip Hop Drum Breaks & Samples of All Time!

February 4, 2007

hip-hip-drum-breaks-samples

I absolutely love lists. I make lists for things that I need to do when at home, on my way to work, at work, and even while I’m at the movies. There’s one list that I’ve been thinking of for the past three weeks and has caused me agony beyond reasonable comprehension… The top 10 drum breaks of all time! Can you imagine that such a thing might exist? After all we are talking about, at the most, a ten second snippet of a couple of kicks, snare, and maybe even some high hats.

This is madness, right? Well, for over a fortnight I’ve tossed, turned, gritted my teeth, and had more arguments with myself than the American Psychological Association has deemed mentally healthy, but I’ve finally finished my list. The closest I was able to get it down to was the greatest 30 breaks with only the top 3 being in any particular order. So, here it is, for your listening and debating pleasure… The Top 30 Greatest Hip-Hop Drum Breaks of All Time!!!

  1. Melvin Bliss – Synthetic Subsitution
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/synthetic.mp3]
  2. The Honeydrippers – Impeach The President
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/impeach.mp3]
  3. Skull Snaps – It’s A New Day
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/newday.mp3]
  4. Little Feet – Fool Yourself
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/fool.mp3]
  5. Billy Squire – Big Beat
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/bigbeat.mp3]
  6. Al Green – I’m Glad You’re Mine
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/glad.mp3]
  7. The Soul Searchers – Ashley’s Roachclip
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/ashley.mp3]
  8. Power of Zeus – Sorcerer of Isis
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/zeus.mp3]
  9. Kool & The Gang – NT
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/nt.mp3]
  10. Isley Brothers – Footsteps In The Dark
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/footsteps.mp3]
  11. Q65 – Get Out My Life Woman
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/q65getout.mp3]
  12. Jeff Beck – Come Dancing
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/comedancing.mp3]
  13. Mountain – Long Red (Live)
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/mountain.mp3]
  14. Manzel – Midnight Theme
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/midnight.mp3]
  15. The Meters – Here Come The Metermen
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/metermen.mp3]
  16. The Headhunters – God Made Me Funky
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/godfunky.mp3]
  17. Dexter Wansel – Theme From The Planets
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/planets.mp3]
  18. Young Holt Unlimited – Wah Wah Man
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/wahwah.mp3]
  19. Roy Ayers – The Boogie Back
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/boogieback.mp3]
  20. James Brown – Funky President
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/funkypres.mp3]
  21. Orange Crush – Action
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/action.mp3]
  22. Joe Tex – Papa Was Too
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/papatoo.mp3]
  23. Funk Inc. – Kool Is Back
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/koolback.mp3]
  24. Silhouettes – Fonky First
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/fonky.mp3]
  25. Bad Bascomb – Black Grass
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/badbasc.mp3]
  26. Kool & The Gang – Jungle Jazz
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/junglejazz.mp3]
  27. The Turtles – I’m Chief Kamanawanalea
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/chief.mp3]
  28. Donny Hathaway – Magnificent Sanctuary Band
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/sanctuary.mp3]
  29. Little Richard – The Rill Thing
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/rill.mp3]
  30. Funkadelic – Good Old Music
    [audio:http://www.cratekings.com/audio/post/goodol.mp3]

{ 5 trackbacks }

Angry Citizen
March 12, 2007 at 5:37 pm
Skull Snaps @ Knitting Factory « Headless Ponch
March 12, 2007 at 7:05 pm
Nicholas R. Frazier » Blog Archive » 30 Greatest Hip Hop Drum Breaks & Samples of All Time!
February 28, 2010 at 9:34 am
Nicholas R. Frazier » Blog Archive » 30 Greatest Hip Hop Drum Breaks & Samples of All Time!
February 28, 2010 at 9:34 am
How To Fatten Up Drum Loops In Ableton Live | Ableton Life
April 8, 2010 at 8:32 pm

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

HotMouth February 5, 2007 at 7:57 am

Dude.

This is f*cking hot.

My only hate is that the streams are only 12 seconds long.

I WANT 30 second clips.

A pod cast.

Something.

I HEART BREAK BEAT LISTS.

Reply

Gary VanLiew February 5, 2007 at 8:50 pm

Good choices. A few that should have been on here

William Bell- Born Under a Bad Sign
Jimi Hendrix- Flashing
Rolling Stones- Honky tonk Woman
EdwinStarr- Rapper Dapper clapper

Reply

Shaun February 5, 2007 at 11:33 pm

nice nie…….but i was wondering why the amen brother break isnt in there?….it is one of the most famous breaks as what i know of…….its being used is striaght out of compton nwa……plus the snares and kicks have been use in alot of dnb songs

Reply

1992 February 6, 2007 at 3:36 am

This list is completely FUBAR! You left out the #1 break of all time. Not only did you not make it #1 but its out of the list completely!!!! This is surly a crime! Punishable by being forced to stay awake in a chair while listening to said break for a week, no less.

Winstons, The “Amen Brother” (Metromedia MMS-117)
http://www.discogs.com/release/423956

This one record is so influential, it started a seperate dance music genre called Jungle or as it is called today, Drum & Bass. It was best used as the back beat of UK ‘Ardkore tracks pre-jungle such as in DJ Seduction’s “Come On”, Harmony & Extreme’s “Music”, and Carl Cox’s “I want you (forever)”

Reply

caddis February 6, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Hey there. The Skull Snaps are playing at the Knitting Facotry this Friday opening for Slick Rick. Also, would you be interested in interviewing Skull Snaps leader, Erv Waters, for your blog?

Caddis

Reply

block February 6, 2007 at 9:32 pm

THE WINSTONS: AMER BROTHER!

Reply

EyeGetzRaw February 8, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Aside from the aforementioned Winston Brothers….another glaring omission is James Brown’s Funky Drummer, which admittedly, is one of the most overused samples in Hip Hop history…but not without reason.

Reply

DJ FRAGGLE March 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I could not agreee more, when i started as a dj funky drummer was the key to life itself. If in doubt get the funky drummer vinyl out, got me out of a lot of messy mixes

Reply

EyeGetzRaw February 8, 2007 at 12:05 pm

^^^*Winton’s Amen Brother*

Reply

felix February 8, 2007 at 2:27 pm

If i bought one of your sample packs, would it still work on my Mac running reason even though the download says windows only?

Reply

Scheme February 10, 2007 at 12:49 am

props on posting the skull snaps. just saw them (like, JUST saw them) at the knitting factory tonight before slick rick. they killed.

thanks for the sample wednesday mention as well. keep doing your thing. peace!

Scheme
Palms Out

Reply

the average man February 18, 2007 at 12:08 pm

“This list is completely FUBAR! You left out the #1 break of all time. Not only did you not make it #1 but its out of the list completely!!!! This is surly a crime! Punishable by being forced to stay awake in a chair while listening to said break for a week, no less.”

thought you were going to say Funky Drummer!

Long Red is str8 Pi$$ though

Reply

mike18xx March 5, 2007 at 12:51 pm
mike18xx March 5, 2007 at 1:04 pm
Mark Kelly March 23, 2007 at 6:33 am

Good list but what about George McCrae I Get Lifted or Vernon Burch Get Up?

Reply

Mok April 30, 2007 at 11:33 am

I’m sorry but there’s no arguing this. 2000 rappers and dj’s can’t be wrong.
James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” is the IT!!!
After that, take your pick. How could you not have it in your top 30???
Trying too hard to be avant garde? Fess up!

Reply

MrCriplR June 4, 2007 at 9:11 am

I totally agree with your #1 spot, however Funky Drummer and Amen should be on the list. Although Amen is a bit over-rated, it’s a classic but it’s over-rated.

Reply

jaz April 25, 2008 at 7:22 pm

kick ass list man. i’m w/ hotmouth: i wish the clips were longer.

Reply

Sarah May 8, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Anyone know where I can find drum transcription for these???

Reply

stepper December 24, 2009 at 8:34 pm

ive been working on transcribing these for a minute. but its for a drum machine or mpc sequencer 001.01.00(language) . Im assuming your looking for transcription for a live drummer. Ive seen drum transcription books which is more like written music for drums. I would definetly be interested in help working on this i need to figure out how to write it in transcription language. You can do it yourself, time consuming though. i have a some methods kinda hard for me to explain unless you know how to use step record on a drummachine/sampler. hit me up with any further info or i could try to show you the ones i have.

Reply

T-GHETTO ENTERTAINMENT May 16, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Man, A Different World has sampled most of them beats. He’s made some himself with the wooden drums.

Reply

Patrick Gillin September 1, 2008 at 6:28 am

hey guys,
i just wanted the name for the drum break that Kanye uses in “heard em say”
u know, the one with the echo effect on it. cheers

Reply

Mike Perdomo October 24, 2008 at 9:35 am

you forgot 45 king- 900 number. that shizz is funkiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee

Reply

m.dot December 25, 2008 at 1:45 pm

FIRST OF ALL THIS NEEDS TO BE A FUCKING MIX.

THIS POST IS LIKE A GOOD DATE THAT ENDED EARLY,
WHO I NEVER SAW AGAIN AFTER THAT ONE HOT JULY NIGHT.

YES ALL CAPS!

~m.

Reply

Josh April 4, 2009 at 9:55 pm

“Apache” by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band?

Reply

televisionromeo March 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm

great break

Reply

DJ Definite September 17, 2009 at 10:36 pm

What no Average White Band?!

Reply

Chris October 15, 2009 at 6:32 am

this shit is def the ultimate collections HOT SHIT!

Reply

chris (DJ Clear)jones November 17, 2009 at 2:03 am

The # 1 song i think yall forgot about is …………The Funky Drummer,now tell me how many song you heard that on.And the real Greatest of all time is Planet Rock,Shakin that ass is a way of dance ,Stippers Stand Up !

Reply

TDizzle November 19, 2009 at 6:02 pm

What about the Amen break?

Reply

Karriem Allah December 18, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I feel that some of these individuals don’t have these breaks that are posted, so
get out there and dig and it’s an education like none other.

Reply

PISSED UP RAVER January 3, 2010 at 8:58 am

WHAT THE FUCK ABOUT BOBBY BYRD’S HOT PANTS (I’M COMING) BREAK THEN ??? THATS ABOUT AS IMPORTANT AS THE WINSTON’S AMEN BROTHER! YOU YANKS ARE UNEDUCATED IN BRITISH MUSIC, YOU IGNORE EVERYTHING WE DO (AND WE DO D’N’B BETTER THAN YOU DO!). LATER!

Reply

Sticke10 August 31, 2010 at 7:04 pm

hahaha… wahhhh

Reply

Sticke10 August 31, 2010 at 7:04 pm

USA bitch

Reply

magda January 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm

As has been mentioned numerous times, Amen Brother being excluded from the list is a unforgiveable error. So is ditching The Funky Drummer. Although I’m not surprised from an author who starts off his article with “I love lists.” Lists are reductionist and detrimental. Instead of discussing the breaks and contextualizing their importance within hip-hop and the artists that have used them, what you’ve done imo is obscured their importance and relevance. Moreover, lists inherently always leave shit out but they never seem to acknowledge that. Music isn’t about rows and columns, that’s for the industry people to fight over, not us music lovers.

Reply

Music January 20, 2010 at 2:49 am

I like this…cool

Reply

cam February 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm

how do you download this amazing shit

Reply

chad March 7, 2010 at 4:04 am

what no amen break!

Reply

Kevin Wilson March 17, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Who knew making lists could be so cool?

Reply

Steve March 29, 2010 at 11:32 pm

I know people have said it before, but it can’t said too many times: Where is the “Amen Break?” It is the most important break beat of all time – not just in hip-hop, but in all of popular culture.

Oh, and people who write in all caps are morons.

Reply

emstro April 16, 2010 at 8:59 pm

What about “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, which has been looped or sampled by everyone from The Beastie Boys to Massive Attack via Tears For Fears of all people. No-one ever hit a snare as sweet as John Bonham did on “Levee”, which was recorded at the bottom of a stairwell at Headley Grange, a Victorian country house.

Reply

Zac April 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm

the aforementioned “Funky Drummer”, “Apache”, and “Amen” are obvious omissions.
The AWB shoutout, I agree with, if you’re talking about “School Boy Crush”.
The other glaring omissions, to me, are the Lyn Collins (JBs) “Think (About It)”, and Sly and the Family Stone’s “You Can Make It if You Try” and “Sing a Simple Song”.

But Good Jebus, this list could (and should) go on forever.
I hadn’t even brought up Bob James’ “Take me to the Mardi Gras” or “Nautilus”. And a personal favorite is Black Oak Arkansas “Hot and Nasty”, but I don’t know that that should be in a tops list. But I should stop.

Reply

Rob Roy April 26, 2010 at 9:21 pm

No Amen? Please.

Still I gave you a stumble. Can we get little flash mp3 players with a volume knob next time?

Reply

Matt May 14, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Awesome! Thanks for sharing, some pretty cool intros there and very inspirational!

Reply

Tbone May 26, 2010 at 10:53 pm

This is lacking one amazing drum intro. Trucker’s Atlas by Modest Mouse. Everyone should go hear it.

Reply

joe June 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm

@Gary VanLiew, jimi hendrix isnt hip hop

Reply

Son of S.O.U.L. July 20, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Peace!!! I think you’re kinda missing the point Joe. What makes these joints Hip Hop is the feeling/attitude they convey, as well as the way they’re manipulated (like Theodore’s needle dropping). You look at a joint like Orange Krush- ‘Action’ and you hear it on a real sound system NOT an iPod with ear buds, you’d feel them the way they’re meant to be heard. The attitude in that cut gets me hype every time I go back and forth on it. Herc, Bam, and Flash (along with countless others) were cuttin’ these while MC’s like Busy Bee, Cold Crush 4, and Funky 4+1,etc were rhyming over top, and laying the foundation of this Hip Hop thing. When you listen to the old park jam tapes you hear Jazzy Jay cuttin’ up Mary Mary, Assembly Line, or the Mickey Mouse break….you lose your mind (I do anyway,lol!!). When you see how B-Boys get loose on these jams….that is the physical manifestation of Hip Hop right there.

(But I digress)…..The Turtles break is a psych rock record….The Donny Hathaway break is a soul record….Mountain (Live) is a rock record….Bobby Byrd’s ‘I’m Coming’ is just pure Funk in your ass (respect to Pissed Up Raver for calling out this one). Thin Lizzy’s Johnny The Fox (THAT..IS..MY…JOINT!!!) is a rock record. However if you listen if listen to those drums at the beginning….that’s straight up funk backbone. If you really wanna be literal Joe, then no…..they’re not. But it’s very important that you look at these in context. That’s my 5 cents….Peace 2U!!!

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Mike June 7, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Friggin sweet list man! Nice work, couldn’t have done better myself, however…

say what you want about limp bizkit but their track Let me down has the sweetest drum intro I’ve ever heard. 11 seconds of John otto magic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzSrZOsOTRE

also couldnt help notice a serious lack of stevie wonder, the man can write a beat.

Reply

Haterama June 24, 2010 at 9:23 am

Funky Drummer! c’mon son! We will always have our own favourites, but Funky Drummer… that’s break beat 101 – even if the break last more than 10 seconds 😛 Anyways, I enjoyed the listen 🙂

Reply

Noneya June 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Sunday, Bloody Sunday by U2 should be on this list

Reply

Mr.Sean July 1, 2010 at 9:29 pm

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