Last week I discussed The Power (1990) by Snap!. Among others it samples The King of Beats (1988) by Mantronix. Silly, cause the whole track by Mantronix is a collection of various (now famous and over-used) samples such as (among others) Kool & the Gang’s Jungle Jazz (1975), the Amen-break and Pleasure’s Celebrate the Good Things (1978).

But what Snap! could’ve sampled directly themselves was the now-legendary bells and drums from the intro of Take me to the Mardi Gras (1975) by Bob James. That’s where Mantronix got it. In fact, a whole lot more people got it from there. The list on for the song is insanely long, just like the other Bob James-songs I’ve mentioned. I won’t discuss them all, just lift out a few.

The first time it was sampled was by the Crash Crew in 1982 in Breaking Bells (Take me to the Mardi Gras). After that it laid dormant for a year, was sample again in 1984, but since 1986 it has been almost sampled non-stop. The track that kicked off the trend was probably Run DMC’s Peter Piper from 1986. The Beastie Boys were subtle about it in 1986 and used only the drum-break not the bells in Hold it now, Hit it.

After hiphop used it to death, it started popping up in popular music too. In the same year as Snap! used it (1990), it also popped up in Caron Wheeler’s Living in the Light. While PM Dawn’s 1991 hit Set a Drift on Memory Bliss heavily on True (1983) by Spandau Ballet, it also uses the Mardi Gras bells. TLC’s Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg from 1992 too.

Perhaps the most sneaky use of the sample is by the Chemical Brothers in Dig your Own Hole (1997). Put the intro of the song in reverse and what do you hear? The Mardi Gras bells sped up and in reverse.

Missy Elliot released the song Work It in 2002 and at the end we find what’s almost an homage to classic hiphop: the Mardi Gras bells. Interestingly Missy Elliot’s vocals also feature earlier on a song that leaned heavily on the Mardi Gras bells: That Thing You Do by Gina Thompson from 1996.

A more recent example from 2008 is the song Carry Out by Timbaland (featuring Justin Timberlake). The catch in this song however is that the bells were pitched up to a point where they’re almost unrecognisable. You almost wonder why it was sampled at all.

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