Today’s golden sample is from “Everbody Loves the Sunshine,” the titular track to the classic 1976 album by Roy Ayers. “Sunshine,” which has been sampled by a variety of artists old and new, continues to be a staple of hip-hop production and one of the most recognizable samples ever. Most of you will recognize the ubiquitous vocal samples (“My life my life my life my life!” and “Sunshine!”), as well as the dreamy piano loop that will get even the piano movers dancing; it’s one of those gems that literally contain 3 minutes and 59 seconds of sample-worthy material, front to back. Without further ado, here is the Roy Ayers original; the poll options and videos for each are after the jump.
Original Source: Roy Ayers – “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” (1976)
Funkdoobiest – “Dedicated” (Produced by DJ Muggs) (1995)
A nice change of pace from their usual lascivious personae (though they’re definitely much more than bawdy sex-rappers), Funkdoobiest has probably crafted the best overall song from the Ayers’ sample. Son Doobie stands as one of the most underrated West Coast emcees of the past 20 years, while DJ Muggs has always been an underrated, upper-echelon producer. Muggs goes for a sparser, minimalist touch that meshes seamlessly with Doobie’s personal and introspective rhymes. (It also helps that Son Doobie has one of the dopest, most unique voices/deliveries ever.)
Freedom of Soul – “Sonshyne” (Produced by Peace586, Sup the Chemist, DJ Cartoon) (1994)
I knew very little about Freedom of Soul before recently stumbling across one of their albums (their sophomoric release: The 2nd Coming), and it turns out I’d missed out on a pretty damn good group. The duo comprising Peace586 and DJ Cartoon handled most of their own production, with help from a producer by the name of Sup the Chemist (another artist I have very little information on). Freedom of Soul introduce a lot of Christian imagery and orthodoxy into their lyrics, so much so they’ve been branded in the sub-genre of Christian hip-hop by fans and critics alike, which is actually quite interesting considering the vast amounts of mainly 5 Percent/N.O.I./Islam-influenced vernacular dominating that period of rap music. Don’t let the positivity fool you; their beats slam hard and their use of the Ayers’ sample–as well as a slew of other jazz/soul samples on their album–is top notch.
Naughty By Nature – “Sunshine” (Produced by Naughty By Nature) (1995)
Pretty standard song for Naughty By Nature about knockin’ boots and making love, with a calmer use of the sample over some seductive R&B drums. Not my pick for best out of this batch, but by no means a bad song. Treach, after three good-to-great albums, shows that he can still get busy… Literally and on the mic. It’s also worth noting that the album which featured “Sunshine” (Poverty’s Paradise) won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, a new category that year.
Royal Flush – “Shines” (Produced by Hi-Tek) (1997)
One of the best parts of sifting through songs flipping the same sample is hearing the different versions and variations artists have on themes and subject matter. Usually, if the artist and/or producer is good enough, they’ll incorporate something thematically related to the sample source–in other words, if the source is called “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” there better damn well be something about the Sun. Or love. Or both. Royal Flush uses neither, but instead uses the “shine” part of “Sunshine” quite literally to mean jewelry. It’s actually quite clever what he does thematically, because the entire song is a warning to all the stick-up kids about getting at his “shine.” And damn does he love his bling.
Tony Yayo – “Fake Love” (Produced by K.O.) (2005)
If you’re as surprised as I am at the inclusion of Tony Yayo, fear not. The instrumental by K.O. uses a much different section of the Ayers’ sample than most other producers have chosen to include–and to great effect. The beat is a lot less layered and a lot more repetitious than the others, but it still uses one of the coolest parts of the original sample source, giving it that grimy East Coast feel. It’s a nice addition to the list and probably the only song that doesn’t jump all over the “My life!” vocal sample or the dreamy piano sequence.
Esham – “Sunshine” (Produced by Esham) (1993)
From one of Detroit’s best known rappers, Esham’s take on the Ayers’ sample sounds more like a Bay Area groove than something you’d expect coming out of the Motor City. Those cheap-sounding drums alone make this rendition unique and identifiable. Esham, a pioneer of the horrorcore subgenre, specializes in shock-value raps and deranged, often lewd subjects (not exactly my cup of tea), but on this track goes beyond all that to tell a haunting story of drugs and violence… and why (he thinks) some babies are better off aborted than born. Another great use of the “Sunshine” motif.
Double XX Posse – “Sunshine” (Produced by Brian “BK” Coleman) (1994)
Yet another talented, hard but not very complicated, duo from the Tri-State area that managed to slip through the cracks in ’94. If you were looking for a rugged East Coast take on the Ayers’ sample in the same vein as Onyx and M.O.P., this song is for you. The name of their 1994 album Ruff Rugged & Raw pretty much sums up this much-overlooked banger.
Brand Nubian – “Wake Up (Reprise in the Sunshine)” (Produced by Grand Puba, Brand Nubian) (1990)
Going by what you already know of Brand Nubian, it should be pretty obvious that anything having the word “sun” in it is going to be a symbol for the 5 Percent teachings. Just like Freedom of Soul, Brand Nubian uses the Ayers’ sample to reinforce the sun as an image of God (of course, the word “God” has very a different meaning to 5 Percenters than it does Christians), and Grand Puba flows solo to deliver one of the quintessential recordings from the Brand Nubian catalog. It’s funky, danceable, intelligent, and superior to the original version.
My pick goes to DJ Muggs on the Funkdoobiest joint or Grand Puba on the superior reprise to an already flawless song. Two very close runner ups would have to be the Freedom of Soul and Double XX Posse cuts. I’m sure I haven’t listed nearly every song in the hip-hop stratosphere to sample this Roy Ayers’ classic, but for the most part, I think I’ve narrowed it down to the essential. Let me know in the poll/comments who you think flipped it better (concerning the instrumentals/production only), and then tell me which song is your favorite (vocals and all).
Download every track (including the sample source) all in one folder ***HERE***.
Major, major props of course to the legendary Roy Ayers for providing us not only with his own music, but also that of a generation in hip-hop.
Peace to the Earth, Sun and Stars… Enjoy!