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My blog is my space to highlight academic work outside of my formal publications. Posts vary from short essays to album reviews to exemplary student work to small sample-digs that I use as warm-ups for my courses. This blog also contains the burgeoning archive of artist interviews that I am collecting for my dissertation, "Writing in the Break."

  • Writer's pictureTyler Bunzey

Digging the Digital Crates: "Apache" and the Incredible Bongo Band

"Apache" was first performed by The Shadows in the early 1960s. Their song was a #1 hit and inspired by the 1954 American Western film Apache.

The Incredible Bongo Band covered "Apache" in 1973 with significant percussion breaks, creating a version of the song that would become the "national anthem of hip-hop" because of its versatility.

Sugarhill Gang, the artists behind the infamous track "Rapper's Delight," sampled the IBB's version of "Apache" in their track "8th Wonder."

Legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash used parts of it on his showcase record "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" (1981)

This brings us to how most Americans interact with the Bongo Band's cover, which is through this scene in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Wedding season, anyone?

LL Cool J samples as well "You Can't Dance" (@ 0:27) (1985)

And Nas, "Hip-Hop is Dead" (@ 1:05) (2006)

As of today, this song has been sampled 536 times according to Artists ranging from hip-hop's founders (Grandmaster Flash) to those of its golden age (Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier, Nas) to contemporary artists (Meek Mill, Jay-Z & Kanye West*) have used the IBB's "Apache" as a major sonic backdrop for their music.

Want to read more about "Apache's" legacy in hip-hop? Check out this great article.

*I'm well aware that Jay-Z and maybe Kanye can be considered part of hip-hop's later golden age. However, I listed them as contemporary because they sampled "Apache" in their 2013 joint album. Put down the pitchforks, hip-hop heads!

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