Double Dee and Steinski's "The Lesson"

In 1983, Tommy Boy Records held a remix contest to promote G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid’s “Play That Beat (Mr. DJ).” The unanimous winner was Steve “Steinski” Stein & Douglas “Double Dee” DiFranco’s “Lesson One: The Payoff Mix.” Two more Lessons soon followed: “Lesson Two: The James Brown Mix” and “Lesson Three: The History of Hip-Hop.”

“Lesson One” became an urban radio hit within days, but was never commercially released because of its extensive and eclectic samples. Clearing the sound clips — a diverse collection ranging from Mae West and Humphrey Bogart to Ed McMahon and Herbie Hancock — would have been a legal nightmare under copyright law.

Made in a cutting-edge studio with Steinski’s extensive vinyl collection, these three tracks paved the way for current cut-and-paste turntablist experimentation. Countless basement DJs were influenced by The Lessons, including DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, who both released unofficial tributes called “Lesson Four.” It was way ahead of its time, and deserves to be heard beyond vinyl bootlegs traded by DJs.

Download the MP3s. (Thanks for hosting, Andre and Cameron!)

Lesson 1: The Payoff Mix (mirror)

Lesson 2: The James Brown Mix (mirror)

Lesson 3: History of Hip-Hop (mirror).

Update: If you want to know more about the origins of these songs, read this fantastic Village Voice article from 1986. “[Steinski]’s just a perpetually disillusioned optimist who still assumes that the sounds and images rippling through the American consciousness are, forget copyright, every American’s birthright — that we’re all free to interpret and manipulate them as we choose.”


    About time I heard these. It’s amazing how many samples heard here have since popped up again throughout hip hop. Missy Eliott, De La Soul (Is “Lesson Three” the magic number?), Early Fresh Prince – it’s all here.

    If you are even 10 percent interested in these mp3s, make a point to rent and watch Scratch, the remarkable documentary made in 2001 about turntablists focusing on the bay area starring QBert, Shadow, Mix Master Mike et all. Don’t misss it.

    Long live open-source culture!

    Holy JEEZ!! I haven’t heard this since 10th grade computer science class at Deer Park High School in beautiful Deer Park, Texas. What was the soul/r & b station in Houston back then? Magic 102?? They used to play the HELL out of this! I remember loving that they used a Culture Club sample! Seriously, whoever did this, YOURULELIKENOONEELSEHASEVERRULED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You can grab all the Lessons (1-6) from eMule. Search for “Ultimate Lessons”. And I second ryan’s motion, buy Scratch the movie.

    Alright, since we’re on the topic. Does anyone know the song “A..E..A,E,I,O,U…and sometimes Y”. Who produced that?

    Aha! I’ve been looking for good MP3’s of these literally for years. An essential and invaluable addition to anyone’s collection of modern rengade folk art. Remember, as the chappies from Negativland say, “copyright infringement is your best entertainment value.”

    A couple other good Steinski interview links:

    An interview with Double Dee and Steinski on the British radio program “Solid Steel”. This is the program that got Steinski to do an hour-long mix, “Nothing To Fear: A Rough Mix”. GET THIS MIX. Get it now. Steinski with ProTools is an awesome force to behold.

    Another Steinski interview on the radio program “Some Assembly Required” (in the Archived Shows section, listen to #02) in which he has some interesting comments about sampling legality. Apparently he doesn’t favor the loosening of copyright laws to make more cases of sampling legal, even if it means that his own creations may not be legal.

    Damn! I never knew that the lessons weren’t released. I was living in Scotland when (still) mega-cool BBC 1 DJ John Peel played the Payoff Mix on the radio. I happened to tape that night’s show, and mixed the track onto a cassette that got high rotation on my walkman. A while later I was in NY at the Area club (first and only time) when the DJ played the track. I couldn’t figure out why I was the only guy in the house that knew the words and the breaks. For all these years I just figured I was the stupid white boy from Scotland and that it wasn’t cool to admit to knowing the cuts the DJ was spinning. This is the first time it ever occurred to me that maybe the clubbies weren’t familiar with the track. HAH! Instead of being the stupid white boy grooving to stale-dated old school, I was actually jaded Euro-trash yawning at fresh groove. Sweet!

    Thanks for posting the tracks, it saves me having to track down that ancient, worn-out cassette to rip to my iPod. This’ll take me back to my misspent youth!

    There was another set of cut-and-paste mixes that are rare as rocking horse shit (more so than Steinski) – The Big Apple Productions series.

    There’s some info here [scroll down the page]:

    Discogs also lists similar records here:

    … and I’ve got all of them on lovely lovely 12″ vinyl (My Precious!) … and more. I’d upload them if I didn’t have a 56k dial-up connection and minimal hosting, so here’s an idea – if anyone wants to rip them to MP3 and host them, send me an e-mail with your address details – I’ll send you a CD with them on (UK addresses preferred!).

    There’s a link to a WAV file of Big Apple Productions 2 here:

    Dunno how good it is though – just try it out.

    there is a “Lesson 5 :Clint Eastwood” by Nerk on a comp called 2080: Eighties Now. It was made in 2000

    glad to see others finding this music. my experience with Steinski’s mixes first came through a japanese import called ;coldcut and steinski – no rights given or implied;, I love that album.

    Someone told me there was a scratch match with a guy who took the opponent’s track and rescratched it into the theme from star wars.

    Anyone know what it was called or where it was from?

    Would like to know where i can buy the Lesson 1, 2, and 3 of the history of hip hop from 1985. Artist Double D and Steinski. Been looking but having no luck. Any input would be great.

    Thank you


    On a trip to NYC in the winter of 1983 I took along a big ol’ honkin’ JVC boombox, both for listening and recording. One night I stayed in my hotel room and recorded live stuff off the radio. KISS FM had been hyping a big night of live dj mixes all week and I wanted to get some of them on tape. I never knew until this second that part of what I recorded was The Payoff Mix. A friend sent me a cd of Nothing to Fear recently and I have been fervently looking for more Steinski. I had no idea that an old tape in my storage place held one of the most legendary DJ mixes ever compiled.

    Thanks for the illuminating mp3. Very cool.

    for all the old skool hip hop heads of london..circa 1979…this is why we got into it in the first place!

    so great to finaly find these songs! i watched the scratch documentry and it changed my life.

    do you know where i can d/l the other lessons i think there is up too 6or7?

    cheers DJ Jai

    Ian – if you can email me – I can arrange hosting and streaming, if you can send me a CD.

    BTW inspirational! – thanks. I originally recorded these tunes from the Capital FM Rap Show, London UK in ’83? Hosted by Mike Allen – sat up until many a night pulling down UTFO, Ultramagnetic MC’s et al – boy, talk about take you back! Of all the tunes I’ve managed to track down and own – these have proved the most elusive. However – I did used to own a 12″ under “Steinski and the Mass Media” which I’m fairly sure was one of these – any one shead any light on this? – some tea-leaf has since half-inched it!

    Just a short illumination – Lesson’s 1, 2, and 3 were produced in fairly sophisticated studios, using 8-track tape decks, with a turntable and a 2-track tape deck. The idea that they were produced on cassette decks is admirable, but, unfortunately, inaccurate.

    This mix started my career as a mix producer.

    I first heard this when I was thirteen and it totally blew me away.

    It is still my favourite mix of all time

    Forgot to mention that you can hear the influence in my own mixes:

    Dj’s take control (Music Factory Mastermix Issue 111)

    Europop Classics (X- MIX Essential megamixes 4)

    The original mix of this was much tighter but I had to add breaks at the intro, middle and end to make it more dj friendly

    The original can be found on the internet

    Does anyone have a list of all of the original breaks used to make all of the lessons? or know of a website that might list all of the tracks that were used to make them?

    Thanks for the response John in Brum. Those are two of the breaks that I did know but I appreciate your reply. I also know of apache from incredible bongo band and jouyous by Pleasure, but keep looking for me. There are still alot to find yet. Let me know if you find any more. Thanks again!

    Nice link! …but 83 is kinda late. King Tim III came first i guess but in 1979 came Teen Machine Rap. By 1983 even electro was old school. Anyway, gonna listen to the mixes soon.

    Thanx all! Steve and I loved making these

    tracks and I really can’t believe it’s 20 years

    since we did the Payoff Mix. No plans in

    our collective future though we are still great

    friends and as Steve said, “the world hasn’t

    heard the last of Double Dee and Steinski”

    Doug “Double Dee” Di Franco

    You should all check the massive article about cut n paste music in the 1st issue of Grand Slam Magazine (UK). Completely comprehensive and gives a very detailed history of the Lessons series.



    Wow! These are mint! Thanx for getting them out there! 🙂

    I took all three of the pieces and did a full length mix, entitled “The Lessons Of Hip-Hop (Pts. 1-3)” running 14-1/2 minutes – it’s much better when you have them all together on one song! >:D

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