The bass riff that spawned two hip hop classics
(Credit: Eric B & Rakim)

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The bass riff that spawned two hip hop classics

Whether it’s interpolation or straight-up sampling, the repurposing of tracks and their various elements is the very foundation upon which hip hop was built. Some of the earliest and most beloved tracks are an amalgamation of pre-existing songs crafted into new ones that are, arguably, better than the originals.

Sampling is an age-old practice in hip hop, and some of the most popular songs in the genre contain other songs within their composition. Over the past two decades, since the turn of the millennium, it is fair to say that with the digitalisation of hip hop, sampling has become less prevalent. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t dismiss its importance.

In its early days, the genre was truly based around young African-Americans sampling classic older African-American artists. Whether that be James Brown or Nina Simone, it usually stayed within the realms of blues, funk and soul, but there was one bass riff that truly stole the show, spawning two classics.

Dennis Edwards was the opening act for The Temptations during the 1970s and became an esteemed soul singer during the 1980s. However, the Detroit soul singer is most known for his 1984 debut single ‘Don’t Look Any Further’ featuring Siedah Garrett.

The track, with its funky bass riff, is an undeniable soul classic and has been sampled on a number of occasions for a vast array of different genres. However, with regard to hip hop, it spawned two classics, both game-changing. ‘Paid In Full’ by Eric B. & Rakim and ‘Hit Em Up’ by 2pac. Both are legendary hip hop tracks.

‘Paid In Full’ is a fascinating track with regard to its composition. Produced by Eric B. & Rakim themselves, the track contains several samples. As well as the duo’s ingenious use of Israeli singer Ofra Haza’s vocals from ‘Im Nin’alu’, the duo also included the funky bass riff of ‘Don’t Look Any Further’ spawning a hip hop classic and a game-changing song within hip hop.

‘Hit Em Up’ by Tupac was also a game-changing track in hip hop but for a slightly different reason. Produced by Johnny J of Death Row Records, ‘Hit Em Up’ is Pac’s infamous and brutal diss track aimed at Biggie Smalls and Bad Boy Entertainment. The 1996 song featuring the Outlawz was vicious and stoked the flames of the East Coast vs West Coast feud.

Despite the fact it was extremely coarse and aggressive, it is considered by many to be the best diss track of all time, with some classing it as superior to Nas’ ‘Ether’.

Another classic, both of these tracks both ‘Paid in Full’ and ‘Hit Em Up’ use the funky bass riff of ‘Don’t Look Any Further’ and are arguably hits because of its fantastic bounce. Below you can hear the original track and the two groundbreaking hits it spawned.