Ashley’s Roachclip

I’m continuing my tour through hip-hop’s most classic breakbeats with “Ashley’s Roachclip” by the Soul Searchers. The drum break at 3:36 is one of those hip-hop workhorses, like “Impeach The President” and “The Funky Drummer” and “Apache.” It seems like it’s always been there.

The Soul Searchers were led by guitarist Chuck Brown, known in Washington DC music circles as “The Godfather of Go-go.” Go-go is a regional flavor of  funk using a heavy swing feel and a lot of happening syncopation in the kick drum pattern. Early in my funk connoisseurship, I would have used the go-go beat as the definition of funk. The beat in “Ashley’s Roachclip” isn’t actually very typical of go-go since it uses straight eighth notes. You can hear a more typical one on Chuck Brown’s official web site.

The first time I listened to the “Ashley’s Roachclip” break I immediately thought of Eric B and Rakim:

Nice & Smooth use the break in “Down The Line” – they mix it with the intro from Charlie Parker and Miles Davis’ version of “A Night In Tunisia.” Hot!

PM Dawn takes the break in a very different direction by mixing it with “True” by Spandau Ballet for “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss.” Don’t you feel like PM Dawn is due for a comeback?

The break has attained wide familiarity outside of hip-hop in EMF’s “Unbelievable,” where it’s probably surprised to find itself combined with samples of Andrew Dice Clay. (Sorry, no embedding.)

Some other notable samplers of “Ashley’s Roachclip” include:

Another fun Chuck Brown/Soul Searchers fact: the beat from their song “Bustin’ Loose (Part 1)” was used by Nelly for “Hot In Herre.”

Sample culture is the best.

Update: RIP Chuck Brown.

5 thoughts on “Ashley’s Roachclip

  1. I discovered this morning that there’s a page dedicated to “Roachclip” on FACEBOOK. Curious!

  2. Hello,

    My name is Lloyd “Ashley” Pinchback, former member of The Soul Searchers and author of the instrumental “Ashley’s Roachclip.” I am personally amazed and overwhelmed by the amount of attention the piece has garnered over the past 20/30 years or so. At the time of its recording, I never dreamed that a last-minute effort to contribute an original piece to an album would lead to so many others hearing, appreciating and actually making use of nearly 40 years later. More than being surprised by it all, I am indeed honored and pleased for the results. And although I have not been fairly compensated for the effort, the recording, I do feel somewhat validated.

    A good deal of the history behind “Roachclip” has already been posted; however, I would gladly entertain any further inquiries regarding “Ashley’s Roachclip.”

    Lloyd Pinchback

    • Mr Pinchback, I’m glad to hear from you! A big part of my pleasure in writing about all this music on the web is that sometimes the artists themselves write back. Thanks for contributing such a crucial piece of hip-hop history.

    • Mr.Pinchback, you are a real hero of music history. I wanna tanks of all of my heart about this amazing instrumental song! You make a history, a very nice music history. Elenko Angelov

Comments are closed.