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Digging in the Crates: Sampling Soul and Shaping Boom Bap Soundscapes

In the realm of hip hop, few sub-genres hold as much reverence as boom bap, a style characterized by its gritty beats, soulful samples, and tight drum loops. Rooted in the golden era of 90s hip hop, boom bap has left an indelible mark on the genre’s history. At the heart of this iconic sound lies the vinyl record, a medium revered by beatmakers, DJs, and producers alike for its ability to capture the essence of soulful music and translate it into timeless hip hop compositions through the art of “digging in the crates.”

The Rise of Boom Bap

During the 1990s, hip hop underwent a transformative period known as the golden era. Artists like Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, De La Soul & A Tribe Called Quest emerged, ushering in a wave of creativity and innovation. Central to this movement was the boom bap sound, characterized by its emphasis on hard-hitting break drums, chopped samples, and looped melodies sourced primarily from vinyl records through the practice of “digging in the crates.”

Vinyl Records: The Building Blocks of Boom Bap

At the core of boom bap production lies the art of sampling, where producers extract snippets of music from vinyl records and manipulate them to create new compositions. Vinyl records offer a treasure trove of sonic textures, from soulful melodies to funky basslines, providing beatmakers with endless possibilities for crafting unique soundscapes. Only to be found through the dedicated sessions of “digging in the crates.”

Digging at record store with record wall in front

Despite advancements in technology that have made digital sampling more accessible, vinyl records remain integral to the boom bap aesthetic.


The Role of Beatmakers and Producers

Beatmakers play a pivotal role in the creation of boom bap tracks, meticulously “digging in the crates” in search of that perfect sample. Armed with samplers like the AKAI MPC and turntables like the Technique 1200s, they slice, dice, and rearrange these samples, layering them over punchy drum loops to construct the backbone of a boom bap beat. Producers oversee the entire process, guiding the artistic vision and ensuring that the final product captures the essence of the genre, all stemming from the practice of “digging in the crates.”

DJs: Guardians of Vinyl Culture

In addition to beatmakers and producers, DJs play a crucial role in preserving vinyl culture within the hip hop community. Through their “digging in the crates” expeditions and live performances, DJs keep the tradition of vinyl sampling alive, introducing new generations to the rich musical heritage embedded within these records. Their skillful mixing and scratching techniques add another layer of authenticity to boom bap productions, paying homage to hip hop’s roots and the culture.

Preserving the Legacy

Despite advancements in technology that have made digital sampling more accessible, vinyl records remain integral to the boom bap aesthetic. The warmth and character of vinyl recordings imbue boom bap tracks with a timeless quality, evoking nostalgia for the golden era of hip hop. As such, many contemporary boom bap artists continue to embrace vinyl sampling as a way to pay homage to the pioneers of the genre while pushing its boundaries forward with traditional & avant-garde sample flips, all rooted in the tradition of “digging in the crates.”


In the ever-evolving landscape of hip hop, boom bap stands as a testament to the enduring influence of vinyl records and the practice of “digging in the crates.” From the dusty crates of record shops to the studios of beatmakers and producers, vinyl samples continue to shape the soundscapes of boom bap, keeping the spirit of 90s hip hop alive for generations to come. As beatmakers, DJs, and producers continue to honor the tradition of vinyl sampling through their dedicated sessions of “digging in the crates,” the soulful essence of boom bap remains as vibrant and captivating as ever.