Depending upon which musical world you live in, you may or may not know about a short 5.2 second drum loop that has spawned several musical subcultures, from hip-hop to hardcore techno to drum and bass. The loop is what’s known as the “Amen Break” and comes from a short drum break on the B side of a 1969 record by funk band The Winstons. The song is called “Amen, Brother” and the drummer was Gregory Cylvester “G.C.” Coleman.
The break has been used on everything from NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” to Oasis’ “D’You Know What I Mean” to Nine Inch Nails’ “The Perfect Drug” to Lupe Fiasco’s “Streets On Fire” to car commercials and television shows The Amazing Race and Futurama.
As these things frequently go, neither the drummer, the band nor the songwriter (Richard Spencer) has ever received any royalties or clearance fees, despite the fact that the influence of this short break has had a profound effect on music of the last 30 years.
Take a look at this brief history of the Amen Break, and you’re likely to instantly recognize it.