The Secret Origins of 16 Popular Albums and Songs from The 90s

In looking back at my most recent output for Micro-Chop, I realize I’ve been covering a lot of material from the 90s. This was a crucial decade for me — a time when my interest in music went from appreciation to obsession. I saw one of the golden eras of rap, more insane dance records than I can remember, and the rise and fall of the mislabeled and misunderstood grunge movement. Some music critics seem to have a degree of cynicism for the 90s, but I loved the music then and continue to love it now.

For reasons I can’t quite articulate, songs from that time period continue to have a strong emotional resonance. As a result, I’ve felt compelled to write a bunch of stories about the music I listened to then.

Below is a collection of 16 interesting backstories to popular 90s albums and songs. Links to the articles are included in each numbered point.

To the left is a playlist of the songs listed below and related influences/sample sources.


  1. An early Van Morrison record had a major influence on Beck’s Odelay.
  2. The Beastie Boys Check Your Head album started with pause-tape battles.
  3. CeCe Peniston’s “Finally” started out as a poem.
  4. Dave Grohl recorded the entire Foo Fighters debut in one week.
  5. DJ Shadow used turntable pitch control to layer samples on Entroducing….
  6. “Fu-Gee-La” was a rejected Fat Joe beat.
  7. Jade’s “Don’t Walk Away” inspired Q-Tip to make “Award Tour”.
  8. Mannie Fresh made “Ha” with an Emu-SP1200.
  9. Nas wanted to sample “Juicy Fruit” for “Life’s A Bitch”.
  10. The origins of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” go back to 1966.
  11. Pete Rock may have produced “Juicy”.
  12. Shanice wrote “I Love Your Smile” to cheer up Gulf War soldiers and their families.
  13. Snap!’s “Rhythm is a Dancer” sampled the synth in Newcleus’s “Automan”.
  14. TLC’s “Waterfalls” features vocals from CeeLo Green and a Paul McCartney interpolation.
  15. Tony D may have produced the original version of Naughty By Nature’s “O.P.P.”.
  16. Warren G sampled the opening of “Regulate” from a VCR and recorded the vocals in a closet.

If you enjoyed this piece, please consider following my Bookshelf Beats and Micro-Chop publications. You can also read my work at Cuepoint and HipHopDX.