The Scroggin sisters formed the group ESG in the early ‘70s after being bought musical instruments by their mother. Deborah (bass + vocals), Renee (guitar + vocals), Marie (congas + vocals) and Valerie (drums) based their early sound on a love of James Brown, Motown and Latin music. They were self-taught and learned to play by watching shows like Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert andSoul. By the mid ‘70s, ESG began performing at talent shows playing original songs – figuring people would notice if they messed up while performing a cover. ESG soon moved on to the New York punk scene, where its stripped-down, tough, rhythmic sound fit in perfectly. They were first noticed by Factory Records owner Tony Wilson when opening for punk band A Certain Radio. He offered to record the group, and they released a three-song single produced by Martin Hannett. It contained the songs “You’re No Good”, “Moody” and the classic “UFO”.

It’s a certainty that you have heard “UFO” in some form. It’s a very eerie record, with a siren-like opening, drowning, distorted guitar and Axelrodesque drums. Its siren opening has been sampled by many rap artists ,notably Das Fx for their track “East Coast”. Its droning guitar sound has also been subtly used by Joe Budden in “Pop Off”, while its bassline was used by the late Big L for “8 is Enuff”.

Artists such as Ghostface (“Murder Goons”) and Junior Mafia (“Realms Of Junior Mafia”) have even just straight-up looped segments of the track. Its popularity among producers lies in the unusual instrumentation, recording style and arrangement. At the time, its dark, haunting dirge was a sonic innovation. Moreover, it doesn’t sound dated nearly 30 years after its release. I’m not sure how the Scroggin sisters feel about their contribution to rap music, but their 1993 release – Sample Credits Don’t Pay Our Bills – may give us some idea.

Artists that sampled ESG

3rd Bass – “Triple Stage Darkness”
Afrika Bambaataa presents Time Zone – “The 40 Oz. Crew”
Basement Jaxx – “Jump and Shout”
Beastie Boys – “Sure Shot”
Big Daddy Kane – “Ain’t No Half-Steppin'”
Big L – “8 Iz Enuff”
C.E.B. – “M.D.”
Das EFX – “Freakit”
Das EFX – “East Coast”
Def Jef – “Black to the Future”
Divine Styler – “Tongue of Labyrinth”
DJ Chuck Chillout & Kool Chip – “Time to Rhyme”
DJ Shadow – “Basic Mega-Mix”
Doug E Fresh – “Back in the Days”
Downtown Science – “This is a Visit”
Duck Down Presents – “Jump”
EPMD – “Chill”
EPMD – “Scratch Bring it Back”
Erick Sermon – “The Hype”
GangStarr – “Take a Rest”
Groove B Chill – “There it Is”
Intelligent Hoodlum – “Black and Proud”
Junior Mafia – “Realms of Junior Mafia”
Lifer’s Group – “Real Deal”
LL Cool J – “Mr. Goodbar”
LL Cool J – “Murdergram (Live at Rapmania)”
Lootpack – “Long Awaited”
Man Parrish – “Boogie Down Bronx”
Marky Mark – “Music for the People”
Masta Ace – “The Other Side of Town”
MC Brains – “Oochie Coochie”
Menjahtwa – “Kickin’ Azz”
Mic Geronimo ft. DMX, Fatal, Cormega & Ja – “The Usual Suspects”
Miles Davis – “Fantasy”
Mobb Deep – “Temperature’s Rising”
Nice & Smooth – “Dope Not Hype”
Nine Inch Nails – “Metal”
NWA – “Real Niggaz Don’t Die”
Peanut Butter Wolf – “A Tale of Five Cities”
Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “Mecca and the Soul Brother”
Poison Clan – “Afraid of the Flavor”
Public Enemy – “Night of the Living Baseheads”
Q-Tip – “Let’s Ride”
Queen – “We Will Rock You”
Redhead Kingpin – “Do the Right Thing”
Redman – “Watch Yo Nuggets”
Rondo & Crazy Rak – “Pussy Hound”
Sam Sever – “What’s That Sound?”
Stanton Warriors – ” Da Antidote”
Stezo – “It’s My Turn”
Tim Dog – “Fuck Compton”
Tone Loc – “Cutting Rhythms”
Tupac – “Troublesome”
X-Clan – “Xodus”

Lawrence Lord

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