Edwin Birdsong Has Passed Away. His Music Has Been Sampled In Several Hip-Hop Hits

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Edwin Birdsong is a Jazz, Funk, and Disco keyboardist who made a series of albums in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of those songs earned wide recognition as the basis of samples in hit songs by Daft Punk, De La Soul, and Kanye West, among others. OkayPlayer has confirmed that Birdsong died yesterday (January 21) in Los Angeles, California. He was believed to be 77 years old. No cause of death was reported at this time.

Birdsong was a product of L.A. After spending time in New York City during his twenties, Edwin returned to California. In 1971 he signed to Polydor Records. At the label, the keyboard and organ player produced for Roy Ayers Ubiquity and his band, RAMP. Some of these recordings include “Running Away,” “Searching,” and RAMP’s “Daylight.” The last of the three gained new life with A Tribe Called Quest through “Bonita Applebum.”

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Additionally, Edwin enjoyed a solo career that overlapped his time with Roy Ayers. At the end of the 1970s, after three albums, Birdsong moved to Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International imprint. There, he released an eponymous album that contains several high-profile samples.

“Cola Bottle Baby” was the basis of Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” That 2001 song and band would reprise the magic on Kanye West’s 2007 #1 anthem, “Stronger.”

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In the 1980s, Birdsong made other songs of note. His single, “Rapper Dapper Snapper” was a key ingredient in Prince Paul and De La Soul’s breakthrough “Me Myself & I.” DJ Premier also used a portion of the song for one of Gang Starr’s final gems, “Skills.” Dr. Dre also sought out parts of the song for the intro of Snoop Dogg’s 1993 rendition of “Lodi Dodi.”

Later in the decade, Edwin Birdsong would produce and arrange for Eighties Ladies, Too Nice, and his early Rap act, Birdsong & The Dugout Boyz. By the 2000s, Edwin collaborated with Marley Marl as well as Roy Ayers on the Juice Crew producer’s “Hummin’,” from BBE’s Beat Generation series. According to OKP, Marley’s son considered the late musician to be part of the Williams family.

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Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family and fans of Edwin Birdsong.

#BonusBeat: In late 2016, Marley’s son, Marlon Williams, Jr. filmed an interview of Birdsong annotating some of his most memorable songs: