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The Story Behind The Sample: The Ohio Players and De La Soul's 'Me, Myself and I'

The Ohio Players are a 1970s funk band. Formed in 1959 under the pseudonym The Ohio Untouchables, in their early days, the band acted primarily as a backing group for Detroit Blues band, The Falcons.

During the 1960s, the group’s lead vocalist, Robert Ward, showed erratic behaviours and was tarnishing the band’s image by walking off stage and not attending live performances. As a result, he left the group and Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner became the band’s forntman.

Changing their name to the Ohio Players, the band would shift their lineup multiple times throughout the 60s until 1971 when they landed a minor hit on the Detroit-based Westbound label with their song ‘Pain’. The band released two albums on the Westbound label, Pain and Pleasure, both of which contained audacious risque album covers. This became synonymous with the band.

However, it was the band’s third album where there was sampling gold and that came in the form of the track ‘Funky Worm’. At first a plain old funk song, it is the break that attracted hip hop producers. During the break, there is a synthesizer solo that sees a square-wave synthesizer climb its way approximately five octaves up before it wiggles its way back down to the bottom (a bit like a worm).

The synthesizer solo was one that heavily inspired west coast hip hop production and was used not only by De La Soul but by Dr Dre and even resampled by Kanye West. West intended to use it for Jay-Z’s The Black Album, However it ended up in the hands of Cam’Ron.

Used by De La Soul for their single ‘Me Myself and I’, ‘Funky Worm’ was sampled by the hip-hop producer and DJ Prince Paul for the trio’s 1989 debut album 3 Feet High And Rising. However, Paul did not use the synthesizer solo segment but the bass. The track ‘Me, Myself And I’ also samples Funkadelic’s ‘(Not Just) Knee Deep.’

Speaking to RollingStone about the track, De La Soul member Posdnous recalled, “That was the second to last song recorded for that album. Tommy Boy was loving how the album was going, but they felt like we needed an introduction song. That was the first time on this album where it was brought to our attention that we may need to make sure we have something that isn’t so over someone’s head. Mase and Paul had already mentioned trying something with one of the Funkadelic records. We did that record like it was nothing. We were surprised how big it got. Sometimes the simplest thing is what people can relate to.”

‘Funky Worm’ has been used in ‘Dopeman’ by N.W.A as well as Snoop Dogg’s ‘Serial Killa‘ also. Below you can listen to the original and then hear how it has later been used.