The name "Roy Hammond" or "The Honey Drippers" might not be familiar to a ton of classic Hip-Hop fans, but his contribution to the culture is as important as James Brown.
Hammond was born on August 3, 1939, in Newington, Georgia. He had dreams of being a professional boxer before pivoting to music in the late 1950s. His group, The Genies, scored a hit on the Billboard charts with "Who's that Knockin'." After a stint in the Air Force, he returned to music under the name "Roy C." — releasing his debut solo album, That Shotgun Wedding Man, in 1966.
His work bounced between funky compositions and more socially conscious songs like 1971's Vietnam War protest song "Open Letter to the President," and More Sex & More Soul's "Great, Great Grandson of a Slave."
1973's "Impeach the President" was a timely track aimed at President Nixon's actions. The opening drum beat — which precedes the funky lyrics by teenage musicians from Queens, The Honey Drippers — features a pattern that is instantly recognizable to Hip-Hop heads.
Marley Marl is credited with using the "Impeach the President" s sample for the first time on wax on 1983's "The Bridge" which ultimately ignited "The Bridge Wars" between the Juice Crew and Boogie Down Productions." The song already had a pedigree in the streets — amplified by park jams by the likes of DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa.
“Number one, that was a staple in the streets already — that’s why I started using it in sampling,” Marley Marl told The New York Times. “Every time we would throw it on in the park, people would go crazy.”
Hip-Hop historians cite the 1986 compilation album, Ultimate Breaks and Beatsm with taking "Impeach the President" from the crates of expert diggers, to the masses.
There's a laundry list of songs built upon "Impeach the President": Biggie's "Unbelievable," Audio Two's "Top Billin',""Nas' "The Message" and "I Can," 2Pac's "I Get Around," LL COOL J's "Around the Way Girl," Digable Planet's "Rebirth of Slick," N.W.A's "Gangsta Gangsta," and countless others.
"Without Roy Hammond aka Roy C and The Honey Drippers there be no Hip-Hop," says DJ Mister Cee. "Period...end of story."
Roy Hammond passed away on September 16 at 81. His contribution to Hip-Hop will live on forever.
Be sure to check out DJ Mister Cee's exclusive "Impeach the President" Mix this Monday on Rock The Bells Radio Channel 43 on Sirius XM from 4-6 PM Pacific.