A sample can make or break a beat. A dope noise placed deftly over a solid drum track can change a mundane beat into insane heat. Conversely, tossing in an annoying sample and can lay waste to a previously solid composition. The search for a good sample, whether complimentary or as the backbone of the beat, has led producers in many different directions. The practice of crate diggin' is well documented, but sometimes its necessary to dig deeper than the record bins. Madlib, for example, sampled the audio from a french children's movie to make "Come on Feet". Still others, such as the producing emcees Stic.Man of Dead Prez, and Cormega, have turned to the natural world for that certain something. Check out the the subtle use of the birds and crickets in these songs respectively.... and after that go cop Count Bass D's Some Music: The producer's Cut and wait for the dog bark about half way through the mix that inspired this whole post.
Dead Prez - Walk Like a Warrior ft. Krayzie Bone (2003 RGB)
Cormega - American Beauty (2001 The Realness)