Jazz Samples in Digable Planets’ “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”

“Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” – Digable Planets.

Samples that cement hip-hop as a natural successor to jazz.

Ive never been a fan of rap or hip hop, being a true fan of rock and metal. That being said I have an open ear for good music and multiple music genres have infiltrated my barriers throughout the years. This band being one of them. They incorporate old school jazz with rap. The song “Rebirth Of Slick,” with its blend of jazz, hip-hop–and philosophical musings has stood the test of time and still slays.

Intro: The rap trio scored their highest charting hit with their first single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” in 1992. The song reached #1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart and #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was certified gold in 1993 and has subsequently been sampled in its original mix by many other artists since that time. It won the 1993 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Analysis: Much of the album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), the album on which “Rebirth of Slick” appears is heavily based on samples. In “Rebirth of Slick”, the primary sample is that of Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers’ “Stretching”; “Rebirth” samples both the bassline and the horn motifs from “Stretching.” Also in the song, rappers Butterfly, Ladybug Mecca and Doodlebug each discuss the influence of jazz musicians such as Miles Davis. The heavy sampling and references to jazz are indicative of that late 1980s/early 1990s period in hip-hop, prior to the prevalence of gangsta rap starting in 1992.

Considerations for Teaching: The song can be used strongly to demonstrate use of jazz samples in later music, but there is mild use of profane language occurring periodically throughout the song. The chorus, containing no profanity, demonstrates a good portion of the Art Blakey sample, and the chorus as performed by Ladybug Mecca is an early example of a prominent female rapper.

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