Music’s Most Sampled Loop Ever: The Amen Break

Music’s Most Sampled Loop Ever: The Amen Break

Six seconds is all you need to listen to the most sampled loop ever. 

The Winstons release of ‘Amen, Brother’ in their record ‘Colour Him Father’ forever changed the face of music. The four-bar drum solo in ‘Amen, Brother’ has been looped, sampled and rearranged in a bunch of music we hear today. 

Despite the A-side of ‘Colour Him Father’ winning a Grammy award, ‘Amen, Brother’ on the B side received little attention. 

However, all it took was one guy to change the course ‘Amen, Brother’s’ fate.

‘Amen, Brother’s’ discovery

Through his discovery of the track ‘Amen, Brother’, Bronx DJ and producer Louis Flores – aka Breakbeat Lou – created a cultural legacy. 

His late partner Lenny and himself began creating compilations for DJs called ‘Ultimate Breaks and Beats’. The series of compilations were made for DJs and producers to have a selection of songs they could sample. The compilation albums had a bunch of tracks in each, with one being ‘Amen, Brother’. 

Skip to 1:26 to listen to the band’s drummer, Coleman, perform the four-bar drum break.  

Coleman’s drum solo is so organic it gives a flow to the song, leaving you wanting to hear the drumbeat on repeat. 

‘Amen Brother’ changing music forever

As ‘Amen, Brother’ gained popularity through Breakbeat Lou’s discovery of the track, DJs and producers took a great liking to the drum solo. 

With DJs and producers slowing down and altering the solo, the loop makes a bunch of appearances in different songs. From drum and bass to hip hop, the drum break sneaks giving flow and rhythm to the song. 

It was at this point that ‘Amen, Brother’ became known as the ‘Amen, Break’. 

N.W.A’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ uses the drum solo to create the hip hop track we know of today. Just at 00:04 seconds the song immediately opens with a slowed-down version of the Amen Break. 

Here’s a transition video of the Amen Break into Straight Outta Compton to get a better idea. 

The break wasn’t just used by hip hop artists but also became a defining element to jungle and drum & bass music. Ever since the birth of the Amen Break, DJ’s continue to sample the drum loop, making it the DNA of drum & bass. 

Appearing at 00:51, you could hear the sample sped up to give that rushing feel to drum and bass. 

Lack of recognition

Despite the Amen Break being officially sampled in over 4,000 songs (and unofficially millions perhaps), drummer Coleman and the group never received the full recognition they deserve. 

Years after the release of Amen Brother, the funk soul band had been reached out for a master tape of the track. It was only at this point that the leader of the band found out musicians have been sampling the loop making millions. 

Lead member, Richard Lewis Spencer, has expressed his disappointment by the absence of gratitude for the song and drum solo. 

However, Spencer tries to take on a positive attitude. Besides the fact that there have been aspects of plagiarism to the drum break, Spencer states that he’s been flattered by the great interest musicians have taken in the song.  

If you found this interesting and want to learn more, check out Mixmag’s documentary on the Amen Break.