Sampleface Five: Herbie Hancock Samples

Our Sampleface Five is dedicated to Herbie Hancock samples from the likes of Ugly Duckling, Lamb and Venom.

As we’ve already heard that Herbie and FlyLo are in “cahoots”, we thought it’d be worth looking at a selection of five Herbie Hancock samples. The problem with doing that, of course, is choosing just five from such a vast pool of tracks (at least 440 according to WhoSampled) so we decided to go for five you may not have noticed or even heard of to show just how far his music reached.

1. Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man sample of The Ba-Benzélé Pygmies’ Hindewhu (Whistle Solo)

Watermelon Man is a certified classic, finding itself in the house of jazz standards, but where did that intro come from? A group of Central African pygmies hold the answer. Through their use of “hindewhu”, a style of singing/whistle-playing, the BaBenzélé pygmies would play this when returning from a hunt.

Their culture was introduced to the West via Colin M. Turnbull’s The Forest People and numerous techniques were subsequently picked up. For Watermelon Man, Bill Summers copied the hindewhu from “Hindewhu (Whistle Solo) and the rest is history. Unfortunately, we can’t show you the original as it was taken off YouTube so you’ll have to take WhoSampled’s word for it. One of the best Herbie Hancock samples around.

2. Ugly Duckling’s Visions sample of Herbie Hancock’s Mimosa

On their debut album Journey To Anywhere, Cali hip hop group Ugly Duckling chose Herbie’s Mimosa as the main sample for “Visions“. The track harks back to the old days of the 90s in style, both lyrically and sonically.

3. Herbie Hancock’s Death Wish theme sample of Venom’s Un Justicier Dans La Ville

Michael Winner and Herbie Hancock aren’t two names you’d associate with each other for any reason but it was Winner’s girlfriend at the time who suggested getting Hancock to compose the film score for Death Wish.

35 years later, French hip hop group Venom flipped the film’s theme into yet another 90s vibe, retaining the grimy aesthetic of the original film thanks to the grizzly vocals of MC Zombi.

4. Herbie Hancock’s Sun Touch sample of Indy & Wich’s Otázky a Odpovědi

Herbie Hancock - Sun Touch (1975)

Czech rap duo Indy & Wich’s sample of Herbie’s Sun Touch definitely caught our attention.

The particular sample used wasn’t in a full loop so producer DJ Wich elongated the opening long note, extending the pitch modulation.

5. Herbie Hancock’s Vein Melter sample of Lamb’s Gold

Electronic duos lead by female vocalists in Britain were commonplace during the 90s – Portishead, Moloko and Garbage to name a few. Lamb joined the trip hop pack in 1996 with their debut eponymous album but unlike most, producer Andy Barlow decided to use just the drums from Vein Melter rather than a Herbie piano solo, before speeding things up with his own drum pattern.


Herbie’s career will stretch into 7 decades of music next year. That includes 42 albums studio albums, not including albums where he wasn’t the bandleader. His longevity and innovation are awe-inspiring so no wonder Herbie Hancock’s samples are so widespread.

On the list above, you saw tracks from places like France, the Czech Republic, and the Central African Republic. That’s how influential he was and how powerful samples of his music continue to be.

Hi, it's Luke, the editor of Sampleface! Why not subscribe to my Patreon and support the blog?

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