Filed under: Crates,Features,Listicles,Rest In Peace,Video Clips
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
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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