By re-appropriating the heritage of jazz, soul and even pop music of the 60s and 70s, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Phife Dawg and Q-Tip have endeared hip-hop to a generation which was overfed with 90's rock, which didn't see themselves in the gangsta image. Their demanding and sometimes pretty trippy rap predated the records and clips of NWA, Tupac or Notorious Big. But let's get back to the highlights of their epic music in five samples, from Lou Reed's hit to the obscure jazz classics of Freddie Hubbard:

  • Billy Brooks - "Forty Days" (used in "Luck Of Lucien")

Let's start with an obvious and bright sample of Billy Brooks, a studio trumpeter who played with the biggest in the jazz/soul business (The Four Tops, The Temptations, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie) before going solo. In fact, A Tribe Called Quest used it as the basis for their legendary song "Luck Of Lucien", an extract of the album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, released in 1990.

The New Yorker's reused this homage to Lucien Revolucien, a discreet hero of early French rap who moved away to New York in the late 80s, when the Big Apple was beginning to face the explosion of hip hop. As a member of Native Tongues (with Mos Def, Queen Latifah or De La Soul), Lucien was one of the first people publishing this kind of music in France through Radio Nova. He was also mentioned in another classic, which is "Tout N'Est Pas Si Facile" (which means "everything is not so easy") by NTM, released five years after "Luck Of Lucien" came out.

  • Ramp - "Daylight" (used in "Bonita Applebum")

This is a classic for rare groove geeks, and an extract from the first and only album of Ramp, called "Get Into Knowledge", released in 1977. A record to (re-)discover absolutely, and if it's only for the production by Roy Ayers (the disc also contains an languid cover of his mega hit "Everybody Loves the Sunshine").

J Dilla also used it to create "Daylight" in his remix of "Come Close" by Common in 2003, with Q-Tip on the mic ...how ways are intersecting. It also crosses the sample of the first EP from the amazing deep house producer Max Graef (when we didn't take him already for a jazz man) on his track "Pedro".

  • Lou Reed - "Walk On The Wild Style" (used in "Can I Kick It ?")

If the music of A Tribe Called Quest has a priori nothing to do with those of Lou Reed. But the former Velvet Underground member and the hip-hop trio have at least in common, to be pure New York products. These geniuses of recyclers chose one of the biggest hits of the 70s ... to make one of the biggest hits of the 90s out of it.

The late Phife Dawg said in the Rolling Stone last year: "So far we still haven't received a single penny for this song." The reason? Lou Reed has reserved all rights under the pretext that they had sampled HIS song. He'll take them into his grave.

  • Freddie Hubbard - Little Sunflower (used in "The Love")


This might not be the best album, but we have to admit: "The Love" rises seriously the overall level of The Love Movement, last album of A Tribe Called Quest, released in 1998. Beautifully sampled, the intro of "Little Sunflower" with vapouring violins that gives you instant goosebumps, surely adresses to deep house fans, since we find the same sample in the cultic song of Pepe Bradock, "Deep Burnt". Spending many years of digging in obscure jazz has obviously its good points.

  • Minnie Riperton - "Inside My Love" (used in "Lyrics To Go")


When it comes to tracks that already have been sampled to death, "Inside My Love" is definitely one of them, as well as "I Wanna Be Down" of Brandy or "Never Grow Old" by Aretha Franklin. Indeed, one could write a whole book on this classic from Minnie Ripperton: It has been sampled by J Dilla on the first album of Slum Village, Jean Jacques Smoothie used it (in his only decent track until today), Timbaland worked with it in a song of Aaliyah and even 2Pac sampled it in "Me Against The World", and so on...

This song is so hot, we would instantly want to rip our clothes off listening to this head nod shit. Herein, A Tribe Called Quest masters skillfully and proper one of the most successful songs on their classic Midnight Marauders.