Quincy Jones’ “Ironside” | One Shots

Perhaps you’re watching Kill Bill and you hear a familiar siren sound when The Bride sees Vernita Green.

Or maybe you’re listening to “F*ck Up Some Commas” by Future, and at every 808 hit you hear a similar-sounding siren play – turns out it’s the exact same sound. In this entry of One Shots, let’s take a listen to Quincy Jones’ “Ironside” and explore how the song, popularized by Kill Bill, became one of trap music’s most iconic samples.

Quincy Jones was originally commissioned to create the theme for Ironside, an NBC cop drama starring Raymond Burr. The most famous placement of this track, however, was undoubtedly in the two volumes of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, released in 1993 and 1994. The song played whenever The Bride saw an enemy from her past, paired with a dramatic zoom in.

The theme has been sampled countless times since – below, we highlight some of the biggest tracks that borrowed it.

Future – “F*ck Up Some Commas”

TM88 of 808 Mafia, alongside Southside, was one of the first to use the “Ironside” sample. “On the mainstream level,” TM88 told The Fader, “it took off with ‘Commas.’” He elaborated on finding the sample. “Every time something happens in Kill Bill, that little noise just comes out of nowhere. We were like, ‘What the fuck, that shit is crazy.’ It just psyches your mind out or some shit – it gets you real amped, and ready for the fight, like some real ill shit finna happen!” One of the most popular uses of the sample, Future’s breakout track was first released on the 2014 Monster mixtape and later as the lead single for DS2. The “Ironside” sample lands on every down beat, establishing the siren sound as a quintessential element of trap music.

2Pac – “Guess Who’s Back”

The 5th track off his 1993 sophomore album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z…, “Guess Who’s Back” was produced by 2Pac himself, Special Ed, and Akshun. The track is one of the earliest use cases of “Ironside” – hear how the sample pops up twelve seconds in.

Sean Paul – “Breakout”

Sean Paul’s “Breakout” is a track off his 2005 dancehall classic The Trinity that also borrows the “Ironside” sample – hear it right at the beginning of the song.

Knife Party – “Bonfire”

If you blink you might miss it; the “Ironside” sample subtly plays in the background of this dubstep classic by Knife Party at the 1:28 mark, pitched up by a few semitones.

Beyoncé – “Diva” (Live)

Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary and live album not only chronicle the immense dedication she puts in her work, but also serve as an immersive revisit to her greatest work. The live rendition of “Diva” from Coachella 2018 features a new intro that interpolates the “Ironside” sample.

Drake & Future – “I’m the Plug”

“I’m the Plug,” a song off of Drake and Future’s collaborative record What A Time To Be Alive, is another iconic Future track produced by Southside. The “Ironside” sample remains a staple of the 808 Mafia sound – hear it in the intro of “I’m the Plug.”

The Weeknd – “Hurt You feat. Gesaffelstein”

Produced by Gesaffelstein, Cirkut, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the Weeknd’s “Hurt You” lifts the “Ironside” siren in the intro, blending it into the backdrop of the production with a low pass filter.

M.I.A. – “Fire, Fire”

Produced by Anthony Whiting and M.I.A. herself, “Fire Fire” comes off of her breakout studio album Arular. Hear the “Ironside” sirens at the 1:33 mark.

Group Therapy – “East Coast/ West Coast Killas”

Off his renowned compilation album Dr. Dre Presents… The Aftermath, this collaborative track with Scarface was self-produced and features a pitched-down version of the “Ironside” sample. Hear it at the 0:45 mark.

The list goes on and on – hear all of the tracks we could find our Spotify playlist below and stay tuned for more One Shots entries in the future.

May 2, 2019

Ken Herman Ken Herman is a producer under the name Exitpost and is an editor of the Splice blog.