The Story Behind The Sample: N.W.A., Kanye West and ‘La Di Da Di’ from Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick
(Credit: Hip Hop Hero)


The Story Behind The Sample: N.W.A., Kanye West and 'La Di Da Di' from Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick

There are a few things in hip hop that can never be rivalled. One is the organic and revolutionary creativity that the genre has consistently provided for decades and the other is a direct product of that creativity — sampling. Hip hop has always cherished the act of sampling another song and with this feature, we hope to shed a little light on the iconic tracks that have helped to create some of our favourite modern hip hop tracks. Today, we’re looking at Doug E. Fresh and Sick Rick’s masterful ‘La Di Da Di’.

Samples are the foundation on which hip hop was born. Ever since MCs began to rhyme over records, DJs have been searching for drum breaks with which they can loop for rappers. The search for old soul records has led to a competition to find the most obscure samples, but oftentimes, the classics are classics for a reason. It helps to embolden the tracks at hand and give us all an earworm to follow.

Some of the original pioneers of hip hop, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick went straight for the party on their song ‘La Di Da Di’. The song was penned by the duo after Fresh had invited Rick to join his Get Fresh Crew in 1984 after witnessing the rapper battle in the Bronx. The duo wrote this and ‘The Show’ for the purpose of engaging in more battles. Fresh said of the song: “It was something fun to make people laugh and have a good time. You know, sittin’ in a room, coming up with stuff, figuring out how we could break the rhyme up and all of that.”

Featuring just Fresh’s beatboxing and Rick’s rhymes, the song needed something to kick it off. Rick’s solution was to add an intro setting the scene, punctuated by an emphatic “Hit it!” to get into the song proper.

You know that “Hit it!”, because you’ve heard it in a million different songs. The Beastie Boys’ ‘Hold It Now, Hit It’ gets its hook directly from the interjection, while Ini Kamoze’s ‘Here Comes the Hotstepper’ kicks off its own party with the line. They’re not alone: N.W.A.’s ‘Gangsta Gangsta’, Naughty By Nature’s ‘O.P.P.’, and Mary J. Blige’s ‘Runaway Love’ are just a few of the songs that use that specific line.

The entire song has become a reference point for any and all artists showing their old school bona fides, from Kanye West to Miley Cyrus to Beyonce to The Notorious B.I.G. It also looks likely that it will keep Rick slick for years to come: “It helps pay the bills, you know?” he told The Guardian in 2016. “But it’s probably true, especially cos of ‘La Di Da Di.’ The vocals are clear and easy to sample.'”

Listen to the original song from Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick below.