Monday, May 5, 2008

Know Your History: ESG's "UFO"


One of the most sampled songs ever, played live by post-punk pioneers ESG :

This clip is from what is supposedly ESG's final show.

First, a bio of the South Bronx band, via allmusic:

The four Scroggins sisters -- Deborah (bass, vocals), Marie (congas, vocals), Renee (vocals, guitar), and Valerie (drums) -- formed a group with the support of their mother, who bought instruments to keep her daughters busy and away from trouble; at the time, each sibling was teenaged. Basing their sound on a mutual love for James Brown, Motown, and Latin music, the sisters went through a number of name changes before finally settling on ESG. "E" stood for emerald, Valerie's birthstone; "S" stood for sapphire, Renee's birthstone; and as for "G," well, neither Deborah nor Marie had a birthstone beginning with that letter, but they did want their records to go gold. After permanently adding non-relative Tito Libran to the lineup as a conga player (some male members came and went prior to this), ESG was officially born.

Here's a partial list of songs sampling the "UFO" , drawn from the-breaks with a few additions by myself. Notice how the list spans beyond hip hop to rock (Queen?), electronica (Basement Jaxx), jazz (Miles Davis) and industrial (Nine Inch Nails).

    •      3rd Bass - "Triple Stage Darkness"
           Afrika Bambaataa presents Time Zone - "The 40 Oz. Crew"
           Basement Jaxx - "Jump and Shout"
           Beastie Boys - "Sure Shot"
           Big Daddy Kane - "Ain't No Half Steppin'"
           Big L - "8 Iz Enuff"
           C.E.B. - "M.D."
           Das EFX - "East Coast"
           Das EFX - "Freakit"
           Def Jef - "Black to the Future"
           Divine Styler - "Tongue of Labyrinth"
           DJ Chuck Chillout & Kool Chip - "Time to Rhyme"
           DJ Shadow - "Basic Mega-Mix"
           Doug E Fresh - "Back in the Days"
           Downtown Science - "This is a Visit"
           Duck Down Presents - "Jump"
           EPMD - "Chill"
           EPMD - "Scratch Bring it Back"
           Erick Sermon - "The Hype"
           Gang Starr - "Take a Rest"
           Groove B Chill - "There it Is"
           Intelligent Hoodlum - "Black and Proud"
           Junior MAFIA - "Realms of Junior MAFIA"
           Lifer's Group - "Real Deal"
           LL Cool J - "Mr. Goodbar"
           LL Cool J - "Murdergram (Live at Rapmania)"
           Lootpack - "Long Awaited"
           Man Parrish - "Boogie Down Bronx"
           Marky Mark - "Music for the People"
           Masta Ace - "The Other Side of Town"
           MC Brains - "Oochie Coochie"
           Memphis Bleek - "1, 2 Y'all"
           Menjahtwa - "Kickin' Azz"
           Mic Geronimo ft.DMX, Fatal, Cormega & Ja Rule - "The Usual Suspects"
           Miles Davis - "Fantasy"
           Mobb Deep - "Temperature's Rising"
           Nice & Smooth - "Dope Not Hype"
           Nine Inch Nails - "Metal"
           NWA - "Real Niggaz Don't Die"
           Peanut Butter Wolf - "A Tale of Five Cities"
           Pete Rock & CL Smooth - "Mecca and the Soul Brother"
           Poison Clan - "Afraid of the Flavor"
           Public Enemy - "Night of the Living Baseheads"
           Q-Tip - "Let's Ride"
           Queen - "We Will Rock You"
           Redhead Kingpen - "Do the Right Thing"
           Redman - "Watch Yo Nuggets"
           Rondo & Crazy Rak - "Pussy Hound"
           Sam Sever - "What's That Sound?"
           Stanton Warriors - " Da Antidote"
           Stezo - "It's My Turn
    •   Pete Rock ft.Sheek Louch & Styles P- 914
           Tim Dog - "Fuck Compton"
           Tone Loc - "Cutting Rhythms"
           Tupac - "Troublesome"
           X-Clan - "Xodus"
    •     PHD - "I'm Flippin'"

That's far from all of them. Leave a comment and let me know what songs are missing from the list.

And the band is more than just the single song, their jagged, minimalist rhythms proving to be influential on generations of hip hop producers and post-rock musicians. Watch a stellar 2006 performance of "Moody" below.

ESG- "Moody"

Watch the entirety of ESG's final show (via

Read more about ESG on Wikipedia