Crate Digging is a term used by DJ’s and collectors to refer to the act of checking record stores, flea markets or thrift shops for second hand music on vinyl. It is extremely tedious.

Crate Diggers will try to find the most obscure and rare records, to either put it in their collection, play in their disc jockey set, or to reuse pieces of these records for their own sound collages or instrumentals.

It’s all about obscurity. The more obscure the record, the less people who will recognize it, so the less chance you’ll get sued when you steal a nice portion of this record for your own. The art of crate digging is a dying artform. With the rise of spotify and other music streaming platforms, people rarely buy Vinyl they don’t know. But those who still search for records have perfected their craft.

Hip-Hop gets a bad rep of being the music that rips off other people’s songs. This comes from people who believe that sampling is stealing!

You could look at it that way, or you could say that appropriation has fuelled the evolution of music ever since Day One. It’s all part of a wider patchwork, in which something old becomes something new in the hands of a younger generation. And respects are being paid in the process: hip-hop producers wouldn’t build their work on something they thought was terrible. Something old, something new, something borrowed: that’s how we get from here to there.

Although some 1970s hip-hop productions included backing musicians, the turntable was the main instrument. The creativity of hip-hop was in the process of recording and stitching together bits of existing sounds, just as much as any of the musical elements themselves.

The block parties organized by DJ Kool Herc in The Bronx, New York City during the early 1970s were pivotal in hip-hop’s development as both a genre and culture. Kool Herc would extend the break section of a funk or soul song by switching back and forth between two copies of the same record, while engaging with dancers using the mic in a call and response routine.

In 1988 the Akai MPC60, came along. This was influential in the development of the gritty New York hip-hop sound between 1985–1995.The Akai MPC model became a hugely popular machine among hip-hop producers due to its 13 second long sample time. DJ Shadow’s use of the MPC helped elevate sampling to art form status and spawn the instrumental hip-hop movement.


By the mid-1980s, hip-hop had dropped its funk influences and turned toward rock for both stylistic influences and samples. Punk guitarist turned Def Jam producer Rick Rubin drove this change. His sparse productions blending hard-hitting, guitars, and turntablism pushed artists like LL Cool J, and groups such as Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C., and Public Enemy into mainstream success and diversified the hip-hop sound.

The politically charged lyrics and aggressive sound design explored in the records above lay the the foundation for the gangster rap sound, perhaps best summed up by Los-Angeles group N.W.A.’s debut album Straight Outta Compton, released in 1988.

Daisy age, a catchall for chilled-out 1990s hip-hop that either criticized or ignored gangsta rap, was pioneered by New York-based groups like a Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. Their music was characterized by eclectic sampling, experimental sound design, a wide range of new lyrical topics including spirituality, activism, and technology.

Once samplers became more readily available and affordable, beats-tapes became more common, and the instrumental hip-hop scene grew, turning the producer into a more prominent figure in hip-hop culture. Two important producers emerged during this time: Madlib and J Dilla.




Madlib is a man of mystery. Over his career there has been little information put out about him as a person. He rarely goes in front of the press, for many years he would refused any interview, and he himself doesn’t even own a phone. With albums released under over twenty one different aliases, he has never been one to strive for life in the spotlight. Throughout his career he has been constantly reinventing his work under new names and genres. Because of this, there are many hidden gems in his discography that often go unknown outside hardcore fans and music lovers. In this vast collection of projects he has managed to influence Hip-hop and Jazz through many different avenues and collaborations. The following pages include just some of his many cult classic albums.




No one could ever deny the legend of James Yancey. His production prowess is one of the greatest to ever grace our ears, and his work over the years is still entrenched in the DNA of Hip Hop music. After his unfortunate passing, the man known as J-Dilla would become an even bigger legend. His work as a producer and as an artist have lived on and grown to stand as classics over time. The following are a few of Dillas albums that were important to his legacy. These are albums he produced in full, rapped on, or contributed to in a major way. In no ways do these albums summarize his career, but are just some stand out albums that are important to understanding Dilla’s work.




Solidifying himself in the industry as your favorite producer’s favorite producer, DJ Premier has a large collection of accolades. With nearly three decades worth of classic albums, singles and deep cuts on his resume, DJ Premier is regarded as an icon within the world of hip hop. Being universally praised as one of the greatest producers of not only his generation, but all-time has is a hard title to earn. With such a vast discography, It would take a whole book to cover every instrumental he’s been behind. Instead, I’ve pieced together some of the most influential and rememberable songs he's produced. What I’ve come up with is a highlight of the unique style DJ Premier created within his illustrious career.




Sampled 796 times

The opening drum break from the politically charged ‘Impeach’ by The Honey Drippers is known as one of Hip Hop’s most distinguished drum break samples. A chunky mid tempo funk cut with a crisp kick and snare and an easily recognizable open high hat has formed the rhythmic backing to countless Hip Hop classics. Some of the most popular songs this sample has been used in are “Unbelievable” by Biggie Smalls, “The Message” by Nas, “I Get Around” by 2Pac, “The Chronic (Intro)” by Dr. Dre, and “Jump” by Kris Kross.


Sampled 998 times

Not quite an acapella, this b-side to Doug E. Fresh’s 1985 hit ‘The Show’ features a young Slick Rick delivering trademark story raps over Doug’s beatbox. Of the many iconic phrases appearing in the track it’s “and it goes a little something like this, hit it!” that has become by far the most sampled. Some of the most popular uses of this sample include but are not included to “Hypnotize” by Biggie Smalls, “Auditorium” by Mos Def, “Party” by Beyonce and “Good Friday” by Kanye West. This sample is a staple sound in hip-hop and many more genres. The song still stands on its own as a classic and has been revitalized through recent samples.


Sampled 1585 times

James Brown’s discography is heavily sampled throughout Hip Hop. The sample from “Funky Drummer” is the drum break that more or less defined the sound of late 80s Hip Hop. A rolling and unmistakably funky drum loop with neck snapping snare hits that typifies the James Brown sound. Whilst the main drum break is by far the shining jewel of this track, the countdown of ‘1,2,3,4 hit it!’ and the vocal ad libs that appear over the breakbeat are also popular and timeless scratch samples. Some of the classics that this sample has been use are, “Let Me Ride” by Dr. Dre, “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, “Mathematics” by Mos Def, “Fuck Tha Police” by NWA, and “The Morning” by Good Music.


Sampled 2409 times

It’s rarely the musical content that’s sampled from this early 80s Fab 5 Freddy B-side, but the closing sound bite “Aah, that stuff is really fresh”. The “Aah” and “Fresh” with their clean, sharp sound have become the industry standard in scratch samples for the world’s turntablist community the standard sound with which novices learn and the advanced create new techniques. Being the industry standard scratch sample, this record has been included in many classic songs. Some of these songs include, “Paid In Full” by Eric B & Rakim, “Catchin’ the Vibe” by Quasimoto, “Code of the Streets” by Gang Starr, “U Cant Touch This” MC Hammer, and “Childrens Story” by Slick Rick.


Sampled 4328 times

“Amen, Brother” is one of the most important sample in the history of hip hop music. Gregory C. Coleman of Washington funk and soul band The Winstons was the man responsible for the drumbeat on their track ‘Amen, Brother’. Little known to the band, it’d become the most sampled drumbeat ever, appearing in over 4000 tracks. From hip hop in the ‘80s, jungle, drum ‘n’ bass through rave’s early days up until the present day. Some of the most iconic uses of this sample are, “Straight Outta Compton” by NWA, “Little Wonder” by David Bowie, “I Desire” by Eric B. & Rakim, and “I Desire” by Salt-N-Pepa.