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The Don Loefah Digs Deep With His Favourite, Classic Soul Cuts

Swamp81's general strips down hip-hop and jungle to their soulful centres.

Next to step up for the Hidden Depths series Swamp 81 boss and dubstep don, Loefah. Here, he strips down some of his most favoured jungle and hip hop tracks to reveal their soul samples.

Loefah: Growing up, I listened to jungle and hip-hop. There was a lot of soul music around me when I was young, but it wasn't until I was much older that I could actually get a tangible grasp on what it was. This was in the 90s, and it was quite segregated and tribal. If you listened to jungle, you had to listen to jungle. You couldn't listen to indie music or, if you did, it was undercover. For me, the listening thing was hip-hop, and my raving music was jungle or hardcore. It was all the jungle where rare groove samples had come into them that really opened me to a world of music. That's how I got into buying different vinyl and listening to all kinds of different stuff so, essentially, that's how I got into this list.

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You Are My Starship – Norman Connors (1976)

Heard in Trife Life - Mobb Deep (1995)

That sample is from Mobb Deep's 'Trife Life'. I was massively into the Infamous album, and all of us from DMZ, it was all about 90s New York hip hop and rap. The Mobb Deep track uses the whole bassline from Norman Connors. It's completely geeky, but working out how they made the track was a big thing for me. They must've filtered it all the way down to get the bass. It just got me thinking a certain way, at a time where I was just learning to produce.

To The Other Man - Luther Ingram (1972)

Heard in One For Ghost - J Dilla (2006)

This one was sampled in J Dilla's 'One For Ghost'. I didn't really realise who Dilla was until about a year after he'd died. My neighbour, Morgan Zarate worked with Dilla, and he showed me all this hip-hop I'd listened to throughout my life. It all linked back to Dilla in some way. Then he gave me a copy of Donuts, 'One For Ghost' came on, and I knew it already from Ghostface's Fishscale album. I absolutely love everything Ghostface Killah, I've bought everything he's ever done.

To You With Love - The Moments (1971)

Heard in Last Donut of the Night - J Dilla (2006)

The Moments are one of these crazy soul bands that are super-average, and yet super-amazing at the same time. It made them cooler in a way, because they didn't get loads of appeal so they just churned out a shit-load of records. This is a track I do know from Dilla, so the way I listen to The Moments is with a production ear. When you listen to it, it's so sweet - sickly sweet, in a way. It's almost saccharine sweet! The copy I've got of that track is an original 70s pressing. Technically the recording is awful, but at the same time it's wonderful. It's got character.

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Hydra - Grover Washington Jr (1975)

Heard in Check the Rhime - A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

A Tribe Called Quest sampled this one. Everybody sampled this one. That is like, the hip hop break. You'd tune into Westwood and it'd be playing in the background. That break is just insane. Grover Washington Jr. was playing the sax on it, but it was Bob James who wrote the Taxi theme tune. It's just too cold. This is what's interesting about a lot of these tracks: you get these cold breaks, and I would learn about them through a hip hop track, or a drum 'n' bass track, where they've been sampled in such a way that they're quite aggressive.

Green Dolphin Street - Lucky Thompson (1973) 

Heard in We've Got The Jazz - A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

This is from Friday 13th: Cook County Jail. It was a jazz concert for the inmates at this prison in Chicago. That phase of afro-centric hip-hop turned me on to jazz. It wasn't drug dealer shit, it wasn't gangsta, but it was real. It was about what was going on in New York at the time, but it was just as much about what was going on in the clubs; what they're wearing, what the new dance move is.

What Have You Got to Lose? - The Jammers (1982)

Heard in 19.5 - LTJ Bukem & Peshay (1994)

I can't tell you how good that album is. I found it a couple of weeks ago at a record shop in Beckenham. Whenever I go in I think about a really rare record that I want and, I kid you not, every time I go into this shop, it's been there. About three weeks ago I walked in there wanting The Jammers, went through their soul section, and it was just there. I almost fell over! That shop is absolute gold.

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Bukem was on another planet back in the day. Later on it got a bit spacey for me, but the early Good Looking material was just amazing and in finding out where he got all his samples from, you see why. He was listening to some dope shit. He was one of the first people that made me think about listening outside of drum 'n' bass. He used to do the jungle show KISS FM on Wednesday nights, which I listened to every week. Where I lived in south Norwood we could barely pick up Capital FM, so getting pirates was tough back in the day. The KISS FM jungle show was essential.

At the end of every show Bukem used to do this 10 to 15 minute thing called Flipping the Script, where he used to play tracks that influence him, and stuff that he'd sampled. He didn't ever play The Jammers - those were deep sample things that he kept away from the public - but he definitely played Sun-Ra, Lonny Liston Smith, Roy Ayers. That definitely got me listening with a slightly different ear. When people found out that Bukem had used big samples, they felt cheated. They were like, "Oh, we thought he wrote them. We thought he was using synths." I remember thinking that as well, and was a bit broken-hearted, but he never claimed that he did anything separate.

I didn't really know a lot about sampling because we'd come from the school of Fruity Loops and Reason into Logic, so it'd always been on computers for us. We'd had as much sample space as we'd wanted. The guys who came before us had to use limited equipment, so the way they've sampled is an absolute art form.

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Mr Fix It - Jeffree (1978)

Heard in Mr Fix It - Prisoner 1995

I'd heard this on an old Jungle mania CD when I was about 13 or 14. I loved the intro, and the juxtaposition of rare grooves with harder stuff. When the rare groove and soul things would come in, it would completely change the colour of the dance. You'd have a breather, but with a smile. A year before these raves you'd hear a jungle track, and then you'd hear a hardcore track.  You'd get a 'hands in the air' piano track and then some ragga sample with a b-line, and a sample on the next track played by the same DJ.

A year later, it all split up. It was a bit too ecstasy-y and the beats were really fast: in-your-face, 4x4. In jungle music the beats and the basslines were nicer, but it was still quite dark. In the happy tunes, when you had the piano breakdown, it was a nice space. You got your energy back. You're looking round, everyone's happy with the world - and then you get back to dancing. The rare grooves stuff was pretty special.

Journey To The Light - Brainstorm (1978)

Heard in Journey From The Light - 4Hero (1993)

Reinforced Records was the most important record label to me. It was the best of the best. It was really real, and really trustworthy. It's 4Hero's label, and their first release was in 1990 or 1991. They're remembered as a jungle label because Goldie came out of there and the Metalheadz was formed out of Reinforced. This sample from 'Journey to the Light', in the breakdown they used the line "Let me show you the way". I remember hearing how they used that line. It's such an amazing moment when you hear that track and you're like, "Oh my god, they sampled it!" It's kind of dope having the records that your heroes had, because you're going on that same journey as them.

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Lover To Lover - Maxi Anderson (1977)

Heard in Maxi(mun) Style - Tom & Jerry (1994)

That Tom & Jerry stuff was the best, and it's all 4Hero as well. That's all the same Reinforced family. It was just an alias and a different imprint, but it was all them. It really owned it without being flashy, and consistently put out the best tracks from all the best producers. It had pedigree.

Love's Too Hot To Hide - Clifford Coulter (1980)

Heard in Maxi(Mun) Style Remix - Tom & Jerry (1994)

This was another Tom & Jerry one. It's just that cool vibe. Not over the top, rushing your tits off, hands in the air. You just haven't got to be pissed off with the person next to you!

You can follow Loefah on Twitter here: @Loefah