Let Me Clear My Throat

Album: Let Me Clear My Throat (1996)
Charted: 8 30

Songfacts®:

  • This monster party jam is built on one of the most popular samples in rap: a saxophone break from the 1967 song "Unwind Yourself" by the soul singer Marva Whitney. Let's discuss this sample a bit:

    Whitney was one of James Brown's backup singers, and Brown produced her "Unwind Yourself" single using the same musicians and techniques he used on his solo records. Three different sax players appear on the recording: Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis on alto, Maceo Parker on tenor, and St. Clair Pinckney on baritone. The famous break shows up 10 seconds into the song and sounds like Parker's tenor followed by Pinckney's barritone, with Clyde Stubblefield's drums on top of it.

    In 1987, The 45 King - a producer named Mark James - slowed this break down to create a song called "The 900 Number," which is really just the break looped for about six minutes. By slowing it down and looping it, James created an instrumental bed that could stand on its own or support a vocal. Ed Lover, host of Yo! MTV Raps on MTV, did his signature dance to the song, and Chad Jackson used it on his 1990 track "Hear the Drummer (Get Wicked)." DJ Kool popularized it once again on "Let Me Clear My Throat," and Mac Miller brought it back for his 2011 song "Party On Fifth Ave."
  • Several different mixes of this song were released, but the one that became a hit was a live version recorded at the Bahama Bay nightclub in Philadelphia. This is known as the "Klassic Kool Original Version."

    Some other mixes feature verses by Biz Markie and Doug E. Fresh; among these is the "Tupac Tribute Edit" which pays homage to Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996. The video for the song features Markie and Fresh and uses the "Old-School Reunion Edit."
  • The horn flourish that punctuates this song is taken from "Hollywood Swinging" by Kool & the Gang.
  • Not much is known about DJ Kool, who kind of vanished in the late '90s. His real name is John Bowman, and he is credited as the writer on this song. He released three albums, the last of which was "Let Me Clear My Throat."
  • DJ first wasn't the first to declare, "Let me clear my throat!" Beastie Boys stop the music in their 1986 song "The New Style" and say the phrase.

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