Come for the break, stay for the soul.

The six seconds that shaped entire subcultures of creativity.

Growing up during the 80-90s like many others music defined a major part of my life. Not necessarily playing it (although I can now pull off a few bars on the acoustic nowadays) but rather being an obsessive teenager listening to a big mix of artists like 808state, NWA, LL Cool J to a moody college grunge lover to discovering a love for soul, reggae and funk during my Uni years. One thing I realised was that I was obsessed with breakbeat from a very early age.

I’ve since been yearning to find that elusive breakbeat that brings joy to my ears and I discovered the reason behind this a few years ago.

Back in 1960’s funk and soul era The Winstons released a track featuring a 6-7 second (4 bar) drum solo in a song called “Amen, Brother” which has since been sampled in released music at least 2,239 times.

It gained fame from the 1980s onwards when four bars (6 seconds) sampled from the drum-solo (or imitations thereof) became very widely used as sampled drum loops in breakbeat, hip hop, breakbeat hardcore, hardcore techno and breakcore, drum and bass (including old-school jungle and ragga jungle), and digital hardcore music.

Here’s the track in full: (you can hear the break drop at 1:26)

Neither the performer, drummer G. C. Coleman, nor the copyright owner Richard L. Spencer have ever received any royalties or clearance fees for the use of the sample, nor has either sought royalties. Which is a bit of a shame!

A GoFundMe campaign was set up by British DJs Martyn Webster and Steve Theobald to raise money for Spencer. As of today, it has raised £24,000.

If you’re interested in getting something cool in your ears during today’s work, you won’t go far wrong than this BBC1Xtra Story:

Despite its audible impact on music, author and mathematician Michael S. Schneider, has proposed that the Amen Break has been so instrumental in the development of music because it has properties of the geometric Golden Mean… The ancient Greek philosophy describing the desirable middle between two extremes, the essence of truth and beauty.