Over the last 35 years many hip-hop hits have sampled James Brown records and other tracks associated with the Godfather of Soul but few have been as successful as "It Takes Two", the 1988 party anthem by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock which charted on both sides of the Atlantic. It was based around a John "Jabo" Starks drum loop and two vocal samples – "Yeah! Woo!" and "It Takes Two To Make A Thing Go Right", from "Think (About It)", the 1972 45 by Brown associate Lyn Collins (which had already been used by Roxanne Shante in 1987).
"It Takes Two" was revived by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Gang Starr and Snoop Dogg and has become a popular cultural touchstone, included in film and video game soundtracks and listed among Rolling Stone's 50 Biggest Hip-Hop Songs Of All Time.
Born Rodney Bryce in 1967, and nicknamed "Skip" before he began scratching and mixing under the DJ E-Z Rock banner, he grew up in Harlem, New York and met Rob Base – né Robert Ginyard – at school in the late 1970s. "I bought a set of turntables and he bought a mic," recalled DJ E-Z Rock of their early attempts to emulate Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa. The duo were both 19 when they recorded "DJ Interview" and sent a copy to Profile Records, the New York hip-hop label which had launched Run–DMC and Eric B & Rakim. The Profile team were so impressed they called them the next day and offered them a record deal.
"It Takes Two" took a while to break through nationally in the US, rising up the R&B and dance charts and crossing over to the pop charts. In Britain it was licensed to City Beat, the Beggars Banquet dance imprint, which also commissioned a "Tuff Audio Mix" by Derek B, the British rapper whose star was then in the ascendant.
Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock followed up their first hit with "Joy and Pain", based on the soul classic of the same title by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, and the house-flavoured "Get On The Dance Floor". They sold over a million copies of their debut album, also called It Takes Two.
However, their failure to clear the many samples they had used meant that they surrendered most of their royalties to Brown and Co. DJ E-Z Rock did not appear on Rob Base's 1989 album The Incredible Base but they renewed their partnership in 1994 for the Break Of Dawn album.
Rodney Bryce (DJ E-Z Rock): DJ and producer: born New York 1967; died New York 27 April 2014.Reuse content