The Ten Greatest Uses Of Donald Byrd Samples In Rap
Friday February 08th 2013,
Filed under: Crates,Features,Listicles,Rest In Peace,Video Clips
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The music world lost a giant this week, as legendary trumpeter Donald Byrd passed away at the tender age of 80. Having bridged the spectrum from be-bop to funk without missing a beat, Mr. Byrd released a massive catalog of great music, much of which provided perfect source material for classic rap tracks. In honor of the great man, here are my ten favorite uses of his work.

A Tribe Called Quest – “Footprints”

The best song from the first ATCQ album flipped the dream-like riff at the end of “Think Twice” with a crashing jeep beat to announce Q-Tip‘s statement of intent.

Main Source – “Looking At The Front Door”

Large Pro snatched another section of “Think Twice” for this irresistible ode to a relationship on the ropes, providing the the perfect emotive backdrop for his disgruntled musings.

Beatnuts – “Props Over Here”

The ‘Nuts dug beyond the standard 1974 era jazz breaks for this acoustic gem from Donald Byrd and Booker Little‘s 1960 album The Third World, proving them with the least anti-social single of their career.

Hardknocks – “Blow To The Head”

The one-two punch of rolling organ and wafting horn on “Weasil” from 1969 served as the ideal basis for Hardhead to flex his underrated verbal talents, providing one of the few brag rap exhibitions from Hardknock’s accomplished debut.

The Pharcyde – “Oh Shit”

The opening of “Beale Street” was tailor-made for The Pharcyde‘s hyper-active tales of comic mishaps, with Donald’s sharp horn hits punctuating the hook in fine style.

Nas – “NY State Of Mind”

The superb Black Byrd album provided DJ Premier with one of the layers for the genius that is “NY State Of Mind”, courtesy of the track “Flight Time”, and make an appropriate reappearance in the sequel five years later.

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien – “The Wacky World Of Rapid Transit”

Providing a welcome respite from the P-Funk that dominated his first album, Del rides the rolling piano from 1973’s “Street Lady” for this hilarious account of the “joys” of public transport.

2Pac – “Definition of a Thug Nigga”

Sorry Beatminerz, but Warren G beat you to the punch with his flip of “Wind Parade” from the Poetic Justice soundtrack, and as a result I’ll always give this version the edge over Black Moon and Organized Konfusion‘s attempts.

Group Home – “2 Thousand”

Premier was unstoppable when he created the Livin’ Proof album, and despite any complaints that lyric snobs might have, no one else could have rocked these beats like Group Home. There was so much going on in 1981’s “I Feel Like Loving You Today” that it didn’t require too much manipulation to provide the atmosphere required.

Stetsasonic – “Talkin’ All That Jazz (Dominoes Vocal)”

The undeniable force of Chuck Rainey’s bassline on “(Fallin’ Like) Dominoes” (from the Places and Spaces LP) combined with Byrd’s defiant horn to provided the Original Hip-Hop Band with a hard-hitting remix to their spirited defense of the art of sampling.

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27 Comments so far
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Nice post. I’m glad you included the Tupac song over Buck ’em Down. Definition is the best Tupac song ever imo and has been criminally slept on, even by pac stans #deepcuts

Comment by hotbox 02.08.13 @

Sleep in serenity Donald Byrd. Dope list, here is my favorite Donald Byrd-sample (after NY State of mind that is), Im sure you agree:

Comment by PAS 02.08.13 @

First of all, Robbie, you’ve been on fire this year. Keep it goin’. Hotbox, I do agree that “Definition…” gets overlooked, probably ’cause all his pre Death Row joints (except Brenda’s Got A Baby and I Get Around) basically get ignored. IMO, though, best use of “Wind Parade” is still “Buck ‘Em Down”, especially the original. That bassline was the perfect complement to a 40 of Old Gold, lol…

Comment by oskamadison 02.08.13 @

Cosign oskamadison, the dirt Beatminerz came up with the Wind Parade-sample was pure genius, Organized Confusion and the 2pac track was alright but not like Buck Em Down, when those drums kicked in, the first time you heard it, man..something else. I liked this different use of that sample as well:

Comment by PAS 02.08.13 @

Nah I still prefer Pac’s version. Whoever I hear flip a loop first usually gets preference. “Buck ‘Em Down” is great but every time I hear it I want to play “Definition..”.

Comment by Robbie Ettelson 02.08.13 @

A favourite of mine is 45 King and Latee’s Putting On The Hits… looping up the drum intro of You and Music and adding in the farty noise from the beginning of Let’s Have Some Fun.

I also like Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince’s Brand New Funk using Dominoes on the chorus… were they the first to use a Donald Byrd record with A Touch of Jazz?

Comment by toilet 02.08.13 @

…and you’re right about Footprints. Think Twice with those Public Enemy drums – killer!

Comment by toilet 02.08.13 @

Judges also would accept ‘Buck ‘Em Down’ & ‘Self Destruction’

Comment by @thisiselmattic 02.08.13 @

Shyheim’s “One’s 4 Da Money”

Chi-Ali’s “Roadrunner (Puberty mix)”

OC’s “The Inventor”

Not exactly sure if it counts as Rap, but….
Fun Lovin Criminals’ “The Grave And The Constant”

Comment by Lair 02.08.13 @

for posterity

el cristo redentor

Rest in Power

Comment by mostly over bullshh 02.08.13 @

Yeah man, the tempo of the Black Moon matched with Buck’s superior flow, cadence and content Trump’s PAC all day. but props for putting it out first.

Comment by Mel Blunt 02.08.13 @

the golden age

Comment by @chuckeats 02.08.13 @

Sorry, I’m with MOSTLY EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED ON THIS THREAD–‘sgotta be “Buck ‘Em Down”. I like the fuller sound of the 12″ version. Still, some great choices. Confession: I hadn’t heard that 2pac song ’til just now….

Comment by vollsticks 02.08.13 @

Toilet, you just straight dropped a gem on me!! I’ve been listenin’ to “Puttin’ On The Hits” for years and always thought Mark prorammed those drums. And Tip did flip the hell out of those PE drums. Funny, as much love as The Low End Theory gets, People’s Instinctive Travels… these days get the stepchild treatment.

Comment by oskamadison 02.08.13 @

Didn’t mean to thread jack and turn this into a Black Moon vs Tupac discussion. But that Pac song is incredible. And so is the Buck ‘Em Down remix, although listening to it now is a reminder of how horrible a rapper Buckshot is right now.

R.I.P. Donald Byrd

Comment by hotbox 02.08.13 @

here’s one of my all time favorite Donald Byrd sample flips

Saafir “Can U Feel Me?”

from “I Love The Girl” from 1975

RIP Donald Byrd, your music is infinite!

Comment by B.F. 02.08.13 @


Comment by RobThom 02.09.13 @

Relax in Peace Donald Byrd

Comment by @ecolinlin 02.09.13 @

On some mixtape shit ; Max B & Dame Grease

Comment by DF ONE 02.09.13 @

To piggyback off of “think twice”, they did a nice flip of the beginning for Chi-Ali’s “Roadrunner” rmx. That baseline was cwazy!

Comment by Dubz jerz 02.09.13 @

I also like J Dilla’s remake of “Think Twice”…

Comment by oskamadison 02.09.13 @

If you gonna anyway,
be obvious!

Comment by RobThom 02.10.13 @

Some absolute gems from the golden era, check it…..

Comment by @mjazzjustice 02.10.13 @

Respect An Rest In Peace

Comment by Aris Williams 02.11.13 @

i fully back this listicle

Comment by @carbonite1994 02.11.13 @

Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “Places And Spaces” is up there too, Paris’s “days Of Old” is one of my favs also.

Comment by neb dirty 03.05.13 @

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