The Amen Break

The Funky Drummer is up there, but the Amen Break easily takes the cake for the most ubiquitous beat in hip hop. I came across a lengthy YouTube clip, “The World’s Most Important 6 Second Drum Beat”, which gives a detailed history of the Amen Break. If you have 20 minutes to spare, it’s definitely worth checking out.

If you don’t have the time, I’ll give a quick summary. The Amen Break is a six second sample taken from the soul song Amen, Brother by The Winstons, recorded in 1960. Gregory Coleman was the drummer on the track, and to date has not received any compensation for the use of his drum break in hip hop. Some have gone as far to say that the Amen Break singlehandedly “spawned several entire subcultures” of music.

The Amen Break

A few of the more notable songs that use the Amen Break (there are hundreds):
Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.
You Know I’m No Good by Amy Winehouse
Hip Hop Is Dead by Nas
Fight the Power by Public Enemy
Casualties of War by Eric B and Rakim

Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.

If you want to listen to more famous hip hop drum loops, check out Crate King’s post on “The 30 Greatest Hip Hop Drum Breaks & Samples of All Time.” They snatched the break out of each song so you won’t have to listen to each all the way through to hear the loop.

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