Posted by: slugboy77 | March 3, 2013

5.2 seconds (stop laughing)

Sometimes you are not aware of something, but its there in the background. Quietly being important, quietly being pervasive, quietly making a difference.

Born in the late 70’s, I began hearing and listening to music during the 80’s, especially having older sisters in the house playing music loud and being told off by our parents and Sunday dinners with the radio on in the background playing the radio one chart countdown.

Music has always been an important thing to me, from my early days listening to heavy metal that I was introduced to by friends and having groups like the prodigy speak out to me across a roast chicken dinner, then crowded pubs and clubs watching live bands exploring their talents, to shared weekends with friends at music festivals, and now with my more developed tastes of today which involve bands like 65daysofstatic, aphex twin, mantis and biffy clyro. to name but a very few. I will also confess to being one of those people who actually enjoy modern jazz…..


think this but geekier and without the glasses.

Today however I was mucking about on the internet as I am often to be found, spotify playing various tracks, tv on in the background (adverts at that particular moment). I had been watching Futurama and listening to various versions of the theme tune (I happen to like it, possibly for reasons that will become clear). An advert for windows 8 with the labrinth version of ‘Express Yourself’ came on tv and invaded my ears. I hate this version (hence no link to it) as his treatment of the song removes much of the earlier versions charm and punchiness. So I purged it from my mind using the far superior NWA version (the original would have done as basically any version is better than labrinths, but i digress). And then figured whilst i was listening to NWA, why not?, and listened to  straight out of compton(naughty language warning) too, just because its awsome, not because back in the day I was down with the kids as a street wise piece packing gangsta. I was in the days of its release an actual kid, a scrawny one with a bad hairdoo and an interest in geology, physics and evolution……

But this was the WTF moment, where previous oceans of ignorance started to dry up. Something about straight out of compton was reminding me of futurama…..Why was straight out of compton similar to futurama’s theme tune?

If it isnt a rule, I think it should be one that early genre and generation defining rap music should not be similar in anyway to the theme music to a science fiction cartoon. But it was.

Listening to the again and again I realised it was the drum beat that was the link. They were really similar. Ridiculously similar.

Suddenly this drum sequence seemed to be everywhere, I thought about other songs id heard, went back and listened to atari teenage riot by the band of the same name. It was there.

Poison by the prodigy. It was there.

Dj gunshot wheel n deal. Its there….

clubbed to death (peshay remix) its there

this one made me wince, as I dont like it but I do remember it. Baby D, I need your loving. Its there.

feel free to google any or all of the above to hear for yourself, i didnt collect the links as i was flicking from song to song rather frantically as i thought of them. this new realisation firing in my head like i can only assume Sherlock Holmes must have felt like when the game was afoot!

I like to think I did this as my response to this intriguing puzzle.

but in all honesty it was far closer to this

and then


Now if I had been one of those people who feels the need to know everything about a group in order to feel like a fan, including what the bass players birthday is and what he/she likes to eat for breakfast, then what I found may have already been something I knew.

The reason the drumming sounds really similar is that in fact, it IS the same drumming !!!

an appropriate use of an internet meme I thought.

Its the same drumming! The actual same frelling drumming!!

I’ve calmed down again. I breathed deeply. I’m fine.

What I discovered is this bit of drumming is called the amen break, its full story and the sound clip can be found here on good old wiki.

but basically (for those who arnt to bothered with the full detrails) in 1969 Gregory Cylvester “G. C.” Coleman in the song “Amen, Brother” performed by the 1960s band The Winstons. Did a drum solo, 4 bars long (roughly 5.2 seconds). People liked it and ‘borrowed’ it.

A Lot…..

not simply, id heard the 7 tracks it had been used in. ‘A Lot’.

Over 700 times ‘A Lot’, as listed here

It was used at the start of rap and hip hop as a good beat, easily sampled and replicated and tweaked for artists to sing over, and then later as a useful and good sounding tool in the emerging electronic dance scene in many of its diverging sub genres too.

its basically the wilhelm scream of the music industry

which to be fair, should and probably is the subject of a blog post somewhere? but lets not get distracted and go looking for it just yet, stay here. tx

From what I have learned after a lazy sundays meanderings is that 5.2 seconds of music from 1969, has fueled and inspired music over the next 30 or so years and helped create whole new genres. Including hip hop, jungle and darkstep.


Three cheers for those unassuming 4 bars of drumming, they mutely changed an industry and silently followed me as I grew up listening to music.



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