The passing of Donald Byrd a couple weeks ago got me thinking a little more on jazz’s influence on hip-hop. Robbie at Unkut came through with the ten greatest Donald Byrd samples, which are a tribute to the man’s work and his (unacknowledged, unknown possibly to him too) contribution to some truly classic cuts. And that doesn’t include “Buck ‘Em Down,” “Self Destruction” and “Fear Of A Black Planet,” just for starters.
Over at whosampled, Byrd is listed for over 100 songs sampling him and another 100 of music he produced–and remember whosampled is pretty incomplete (and that’s a good thing, since nobody except DMCA and lawyers want all samples known. Sampling is like magic tricks, or pussy, or pussy magic…when it loses its mystery, we’re all poorer for it). And compare that to Miles (96 samples) and Coltrane (40 samples–I’m pretty sure that’s a crowdsourcing failure, right? Nobody sampled 'A Love Supreme’ yet?! Common? Lupe? Some other cunnilingus adept rapper?! That shit can’t be right.)
So on the one we owe Donald Byrd for a heavy grip of classics. Peace to him for that. Thing is though, while you could do a great 'Donald Byrd Sample Mix,’ it wouldn’t sound all that…jazzy. (It’s an idea though, I’ll think on it. Actually I was trying to convince Hevehitta on the twitter the other day to do a series of all-one-breakbeat mixes.) Samples get cut up, flipped, slapped, tweaked and the result hits the groove but a lotta times far from the source–which is one of hip-hop’s great achievements, that artistic transformation of sounds. [Update: DJ Polished Solid did it, great tracks there.]
What I’m trying to say is, you know how scientists are always coming out with shit like, 81% of the human DNA comes from the housefly, or we’re all descended from this one rat-looking-thing? If there ever was a Hip-Hop Genome Project, I think we’d find a much higher percentage of jazz up in there than you woulda guessed. Wait–not to compare jazz to a housefly or a prehistoric rat though.
Anyways here we got another hour of jazz/hip-hop beats where the influence is upfront, so forget everything I just said. That was just off the dome on account of Donald Byrd, I already had this mix going when he passed. C'mon son, it’s not like you come here for the coherent hypotheses or even read all this wobbly verbosity. You come for the beats. I got you. I got your beats.