Today we explore one of my favourite samples: the blaring, haunting saxophone introduction to The Lafayette Afro Rock Band’s “Darkest Light” from their 1975 album Malik. Click below to listen:
The Lafayette Afro Rock BandÂ – Darkest Light (Malik, 1975) [Sample][audio:http://momonox.free.fr/divers/darkestlight.mp3]
Formed in 1970 on Long Island, The Lafayette Afro Rock BandÂ was originally calledÂ Bobby Boy Congress after vocalist Bobby Boy. Quickly realizingÂ thatÂ “America was already overloaded with funk acts” (1), the band relocatedÂ toÂ FranceÂ in 1971Â where they caught the attention of producer Pierre Jaubert. JaubertÂ dramatically altered the group’s musical direction by encouraging them to blendÂ “the powerful Afro-beat tendencies”Â of Paris’ BarbesseÂ community with the band’s “original solid (if workmanlike) funk.” (2)Â The resulting sound, a “heavy, dense, no compromise ghetto funk,” (3) propelled theirÂ second and thirdÂ albums, 1974’s Soul Makossa (the source of another classic hip-hop sample: the drum break fromÂ “Hihache”) and 1975’s Malik, to modest success.
Unfortunately, by the mid 1970s Jaubert had become infatuated with disco and convinced the bandÂ to record a novelty dance track called “Brazil” under the name Crispy and Company.Â The song became an instant hit, reaching #26 in the UK. Spurred on by theÂ track’s successÂ the band plunged headfirst into the disco wave, releasing albums like Frisco Disco and singles like “Dr. Beezar, Soul Frankenstein.” However, their disco success would be short-lived and the group disbandedÂ soon after returning to the US in 1978.
Luckily for us, the band’s pre-discoÂ catalogue has since been thoroughly mined by beat diggers and a number of excellent samples have been unearthed, theÂ saxaphone introduction from “Darkest Light” being perhaps the best known and most recognizable of them. Melancholy and desolate, the sample is so effective for two reasons: first, because it is evocativeÂ – itÂ elicits in the listener a uniqueÂ emotional responseÂ – and second, because it is so versatile. Containing only a single instrument, the sample can be layered over any number of other samples to create anÂ limitless variety of sounds.
Indeed, consider the diversity of the songs on which it has been used, some of which are listedÂ below. OnÂ Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got”, the sample serves as a compelling counterpoint to the exuberant horns of Johnny Pate’s “Shaft In Africa.” On Public Enemy’s “Show ‘Em What You Got” the sampleÂ becomes a hypnotizingÂ clarion callÂ forÂ empowermentÂ while on Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker” it becomes a New Jack Swing summer jam.
Jay-Z – Show Me What You Got (Kingdom Come, 2006)[audio:http://www.4080records.com/music/jz_dl.mp3]
Public Enemy – Show ‘Em What You Got (It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, 1988)[audio:http://www.4080records.com/music/pe_dl.mp3]
Wreckx-N-Effect – Rump Shaker (Hard Or Smooth, 1992)[audio:http://www.4080records.com/music/we_dl.mp3]