Producer David Axelrod Has Passed Away. He Leaves Massive Legacy In Hip-Hop.
This evening (February 5), it has been reported that David Axelrod has died. The Roots’ Questlove took to social media moments ago to announce the death of iconic music producer, songwriter, and arranger. A native of South Central Los Angeles, California, Axelrod’s own music, as well as his productions for Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, David McCallum, and The Electric Prunes have been widely celebrated in Hip-Hop through sampling and interpolation. Notably, Axelrod worked in Jazz, Rock & Roll, Spoken Word, and Soul/R&B. At the time of his death, Axelrod was 83 years old. No additional details have made available.
The longtime Capitol Records A&R and staff producer was one of Hip-Hop’s influencers who embraced others. His final studio album, released in 2001, featured Ras Kass, and dedicated another song to Dr. Dre and Diamond D:
Songs such as Dre’s “The Next Episode,” Lil Wayne’s “Dr. Carter,” and Royce 5’9’s “Shake This” are all based on Axelrod creations. Producers such as Madlib, The Beatnuts, DJ Shadow (whose wife managed David in the 2000s), and Prince Paul are some of the ambassadors in Hip-Hop who brought Axelrod’s work to a new generation.
In October of 2005, David Axelrod spoke to me for AllHipHop about how he felt about Dre’s 1999 usage of his music in smash hit “The Next Episode” with Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, and Nate Dogg. Due to a recreated popularity, Axelrod was able to get accolades that alluded him even at the height of his output.
“It did a great deal for me. It made people very aware of me, and it made me money. I’m in love with [Dr.] Dre, let’s face it. ‘Next Episode’… Jesus, what’s that done, about 13 million? I’m serious. That’s what I’ve heard. That’s a lot of records. I will always be indebted to him for that. There’s a DVD coming out of the concert I did last year at Royal Festival Hall, and I sold it out by word of mouth. It was great. It was like a highlight of my career to walk out on the stage of Royal Festival Hall, which is one of the five most prestigious venues in the world. [Laughs] I’m only repeating that [from the flyer]. I walked out and got a standing ovation. I’ve done a lot of concerts, never got that. ‘What the fuck is this? This is incredible.’ The God damned concert was already over.”
In 2010, Ras Kass spoke to about working with David in an interview I conducted with him for HipHopDX. “He’s a cool-ass Jazz dude. It was surreal, with a choir. Ain’t no keyboard, there’s 50 children singin’, and he’s writin’ and directin’. It was amazing. The fact that he deemed me worthy artistically…obviously, there were a lot more hotter rappers [sic], people that were more popular than me. It was an honor and a blessing. I can genuinely say, with all the pressure, I genuinely rose to the occasion. I got in there and gunned it. Doc and Premo could tell you the same thing. There were big cameras, big-ass CNN cameras and shit.” The MC added, “It was just amazing. A full-piece orchestra, a full-piece children’s choir, David Axelrod – and me. What the fuck. [Laughs] In the big studio in Capitol. I was just so happy that he felt I captured the essence of what he was tryin’ to say. That meant a lot to me.”
In 2005, Egon (then of Stones Throw Records) worked with Blue Note Records to release The Edge, a compilation of David Axelrod’s music and productions for other artists.
Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family, friends, and fans of David Axelrod.