What’s the Most Sampled Song Ever?

I love the idea of sampling. I love listening to songs that “borrow” elements from other songs. Well, maybe not some of the new stuff that completely rip off entire other songs. A great resource on the web to see who’s sampled who, and who’s been sampled can be found at the-breaks.com.

So what song has been sampled the most often? Is it something by James Brown? It’s possible. His song “Funky Drummer” is definitely at the top of the list. In fact, if you don’t own it already, get yourself the James Brown 40th Anniversary Collection. Even though “Funky Drummer” isn’t a part of the collection, as you listen to it, (especially disc 2) let your mind be amazed at how many sounds you recognize coming from other songs. But even more likely, the most sampled song is a little known tune from the 1969, a B-Side from a Winstons record called “Amen, Brother.” The sample (or break) is called the Amen Break. You can hear it in rap tunes, techno tunes, alternative tunes, even television shows & commercials.

Check out this fascinating project by Nate Harrison that discussed the sample in detail, and also talks about copyright issues related to the break, and sampling in general. It’s about 17 min. long, and has a little bit of rough language as the author presents an N.W.A. song that uses the sample.

(The video itself isn’t much to watch. It’s pretty much the audio that makes the point.)

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