A Taste of Honey

Soul singer Roy Charles Hammond was a hugely talented singer and writer, whose ability far exceeded the moderate attention he received since his start in 1958. He changed his name to Roy C. Hammond to avoid confusion with singer Ray Charles and embarked on a career as the lead singer of The Genies, scoring a top ten hit with the track “Who’s Knocking.” He then moved on to the group Mark 4, writing and producing their hit “Honey I still love you”. In 1969 he started his own label – Alaga, based in Jamaica, Queens, NY. Alaga happened to turn out one of the most important tunes in sampling history: “Impeach the President” by the Honeydrippers.

“Impeach the President” was Roy’s response to the Watergate scandal and one of several politically-charged songs he recorded with his young backing group, The Honeydrippers. The infectiously funky track featured choppy guitar licks, driving horns, funky vocals and a sampler’s dream in the form of a two-bar opening drum break. Its crisp, punchy sound has been sampled hundreds of times since its 1973 release. One of the first uses was by Audio Two for “Top Billin’ “. They based the entire track around the drum break, giving it a very raw, stripped-down feel. More recently producer Salaam Remi used the break as the backing for Nas’s 2003 hit “I Can.”

The popularity of “Impeach the President” among producers, beatmakers and vinyl collectors has led to a dramatic rise in the price of the 45 since its pressing. It has been known to change hands for as much as $300. Just like the Winstons’ “Amen brother”, hip hop songs featuring “Impeach the President” must be in the millions, sale-wise. In the early ‘90s, record label Tough City shrewdly bought the rights to the song. Let’s hope Roy .C got a good price.

Lawrence Lord

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