Much of today’s pop music is built on an ethos of remixing, sampling and rearranging. Whether it’s a clever nod to an oldie, or a controversial near-stealing of a riff, many producers build their careers on recycling and making old licks new again. But what is the most sampled song ever?
According to the BBC, it’s Change the Beat by Fab 5 Freddy.
Recognize it? At the BBC, DJ Roger Johnson explains that in the 1980s, a French producer named Jean Caracas came to New York City and met Fab 5 Freddy. They made an “experimental electropop record” in which Freddy raps (poorly) in French and (far better) in English. At the very end of the song, the producer comes in and says, “Ahhhhh, this stuff is really fresh.” In 1983, Herbie Hancock used a scratched version of the song in his own project.
After Hancock sampled the scratch at the end, producers everywhere wanted to us it. Since then, it’s appeared on countless tracks, including this Justin Bieber song:
It’s in last year’s hit song, "Thrift Shop":
Linkin Park used it in "Cure for the Itch":
The list goes on. According to the site Who Sampled, you can hear Change the Beat on Boyz-N-The-Hood by Eazy-E, Pump Up the Volume by MARRS, Needle to the Goove by Mantronix, Sin by Nine Inch Nails and 1,200 other songs. So the next time you hear a scratch on a song, you can probably guess who made it first.