In 1977 the Isley Brothers released the album Go For Your Guns. Track 2 on that album is the very laid back song Footsteps in the Dark. Three songs were released as singles from that album, but Footsteps in the Dark was not one of them. Nevertheless, the song has gained popularity among hiphop and R&B artists as a source for samples.

The main reason for this is that Ice Cube sampled the laid back riff in his 1993 track It Was a Good Day and the song became a big hit. It describes a good day in South Central without a single incident, sort of hinting that those days are rare, from a gangsta rapper’s point of view. Since then the track has been sampled countless times, too many to mention here (WhoSampled has a good overview).

But what’s interesting however is that Ice Cube wasn’t actually the first to use it. Fellow West-Coast gangsta rappers Compton’s Most Wanted released their second album Straight Checkn’ Em in 1991. On it is the track Can I Kill It. Even though it starts out leaning on a sample of Teddy Pendergrass track Love T.K.O. from 1980, halfway it switches samples to the now famous sample of the Isley Brothers. So it’s not completely unlikely that the inspiration to use the sample in It was a Good Day actually came from another West-Coast track.

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