Sample Sunday

Published on November 4th, 2012 | by Queso


Sample Sunday: The Brothers Johnson – “Strawberry Letter 23”

Good day, good sirs and/or madams. This is Sample Sunday and today we bring you a classic and…well, an older classic. The Brothers Johnson meets Outkast in a “Strawberry Apology Letter to Ms. Jackson” …too much?

The Sample

“Strawberry Letter 23” is a hit single from the 70’s performed by both The Brothers Johnson and Shuggie Otis. Both? Yes, allow me to explain:

“Strawberry Letter 23” is probably most well-known from The Brothers Johnson’s platinum 1977 album, Right On Time. BUT, the song was originally written by Shuggie Otis for his 1972 album, Freedom Flight. The Brothers Johnson band member, George Johnson was dating one of Otis’ cousins when he heard Otis’s album. With the creative guidance of Quincy Jones, the band re-recorded a more funk-focused cut of “Strawberry Letter 23” for Right On Time, with studio guitarist Lee Ritenour performing Otis’ famous guitar solo.

Word on the street is the song was the result of a relationship between Shuggie Otis and his girlfriend at the time writing  numerous letters to each other. Many of the letters from Otis’ girlfriends were sent with a strawberry scent, so as the 23rd letter in this exchange, Otis wrote this song.


The Flip

Now, to be honest, I have no idea how I discovered this sample. I must have just been curious about the production of this track. Anyway, I had this noted in a notebook somewhere. The most notable sample of “Strawberry Letter 23” has to be Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson.” Now, I say go ahead and listen to the track below. I’ll wait here…

You hear it? Neither do I. BUT, word on the street is that it is pitch-shifted and reversed. So, that distorted sound you here on the track is “Strawberry Letter 23.” Shout out to Earthtone III (Mr. DJ) on the beat.

Now, if you don’t know about Outkast…I don’t know what to say. Outkast is the ATL duo of Andre 3000 and Big Boi who took Hip-Hop by storm with a unique sound and dope rhymes. Words cannot explain Outkast, so be sure to check out more of their music. “Ms. Jackson” is the second single from their 2000 album, Stankonia. This track reached number one in the US and Germany, number 2 in the UK, and won the duo a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo.

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is co-founder and editor-in-chief of If he's not fooling around on the website, you may be able to catch him listening to Prince, stream-monstering, or making pancakes. Follow him @theconqueso or email at

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