The practice of sampling in hip-hop is widespread, although some question its reflection on the originality of one’s music. Not too long ago, Timbaland was accused of “ripping off” Arabic music and more and more frequently, legal action is being taken by bands and artists who feel they haven’t received enough money from being sampled. Irrespective of this, there’s one hit from The Game that uses a sample ingeniously.
Despite the minor criticisms, sampling in its early days, especially within hip hop, meant young African-Americans sampling classic artists. Whether that be James Brown or Nina Simone, it usually stayed within the realms of blues, funk and soul. Although some artists like Kanye West and Tyler The Creator search wide and far for their samples, California producer duo Cool & Dre stuck with good old soul for their beat, and it certainly hooked rapper, The Game.
‘Hate It Or Love It’ is a classic 2000s rap song, and, like much of the hip-hop out at the time, the track incorporates a chopped-up and soul sample with a digital boost. Produced by Cool & Dre, the track used by the production duo for the song is a well-known ’70s soul classic that the likes of J Dilla and others have sampled.
For this 2005 Game single, Cool & Dre chose to sample the 1975 soul song ‘Rubber Band’ by The Trammps. Founded in the 1960s under the stage name The Volcanos, The Trammps were a Philadelphia-based soul and disco outfit led by the legendary drummer and singer Earl Young.
Initially playing as The Volcanos and then The Moods, by the early 1970s, the band settled with their final stage name, The Trammps. Spearheaded by Earl Young, the ensemble underwent several lineup changes before it saw success. The ultimate five-piece included Young, Jimmy Ellis, Harold and Stanley Wade and Robert Upchurch.
The musicians first saw success with an uptempo cover of the classic 1930s Broadway tune, ‘Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart’. Released in 1972, this was The Trammps’ first look into the charts. The song just managed to clinch a spot within the top 20 the week of its release. The group was able to land a record deal with Buddah Records. As a result, the ensemble released ‘Hold Back the Night’ in 1973. The single became a hit on the Billboard R’n’B chart and even managed to move units in the UK.
While The Trammps were on Buddah Records, they created what would become a hip-hop staple. In 1975, the 5-piece released their second studio album, The Legendary Zing. However, the track that would later be sampled by J Dilla and eventually Cool & Dre was not on the A-side but on the B-side. Produced and arranged by Ronnie Baker, ‘Rubber Band’ by The Trammps may sound awfully familiar to many hip-hop heads. Recorded in Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios, the 1975 track features not only in the 2006 J Dilla track ‘Dilla Says Go’ from his adorned album Donuts but is the backbone of ‘Hate It Or Love It’ by Compton rapper, The Game.
‘Hate It Or Love It’ is The Game’s most successful track of all time, but its beat has humble beginnings. The instrumental for the track was released on an unofficial beat tape floating around LA for years. As producers trying to make it big, Cool & Dre released an instrumental CD hoping it would get picked up by a rapper and that it did.
Even though it was from a meagre local-level CD, when The Game heard it, he knew it was a hit, so he showed it to his collaborator Dr Dre. With minor additional production from Dr Dre, who executively produced The Documentary album, on which the single appears. The track nearly reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 but peaked at two, while 50 Cent’s single, ‘Candy Shop’ took the top spot. Mary J Blige also remixed the track for her track ‘MJB Da MVP’. The original has been certified platinum in the US and UK three times.
Below you can listen to the original ‘Rubber Band’ as well as ‘J Dilla Says Go’ and ‘Hate It Or Love It’ by The Game featuring 50 Cent.