Robert Glasper Shows How J. Dilla Created 2 Of His Most Magnificent Samples (Video)

Hip-Hop music has been one of movements. In its earliest days, Hip-Hop was a fusion of sounds as disparate as Salsa and Punk, Dance Music and Funk. DJs like Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa used records from all genres, in order to concoct the sonic gumbo that launched the culture. The first MCs rapped over instrumental breaks in those records, usually as they were spun live. The next movement brought Rap music that used extensive portions of Disco records, like those found on many Sugar Hill classics, such as “Rapper’s Delight.” The early 80s brought an onslaught of original production. Artists like The Fat Boys and Whodini tapped musicians to compose original scores for their rhymes. Those sonics were overtaken by beat machines used to perfection by acts like Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J. It was in the late 80s, however that things took a turn that would continue to define Hip-Hop today.

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In those late 80s years, producers began using tiny samples of songs to create entirely new records. Large Professor, Prince Paul, Marley Marl, Dr. Dre and others dusted off catalog from artists like Sly Stone, Parliament-Funkadelic, The Ohio Players and, of course, James Brown to create completely different audio works. As we moved into the 90s, one of the most prevalent genres that fueled sampling was Jazz.

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NPR’s Jazz Night In America recently sat with producer and musician, Robert Glasper, to explore the longstanding nexus between Jazz and Hip-Hop. With his extensive Jazz pianist chops and love for Hip-Hop, as evidenced by multiple collaborations with artist like Phonte, Yasiin Bey, Black Milk and The Roots, as well as producers like 9th Wonder and Pete Rock, Glasper was the perfect choice to lead the journey.

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Armed with noting but a laptop, turntable and piano, Glasper traced the genesis of several critical samples, and broke down how they were flipped from bits of Jazz songs to classic Hip-Hop records. Glasper starts with “I Love Music,” by the Ahmad Jamal Trio, and shows how Pete Rock made a sliver of that song into Nas’ “The World Is Yours.” From there, Glasper highlights the brilliance of J. Dilla. Not only did Dilla find tidbits from esoteric records, he also used techniques of slowing down and altering the pitches of those samples in order to create virtually unrecognizable sounds. Glasper shows how Jay Dee did this both for Slum Village’s “Get Dis Money,” as well as De La Soul’s “Stakes Is High.”

The video uses graphics as well as Glasper magnificent piano playing to showcase the relevant transformations.