Worlds collide. They're bound to. But the first few times they do always stay with you . That Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz video Deja Vu (Uptown Baby). I remember being sure it sounded like a song my dad and uncle would play on their record players. It always gave me shivers. I remember the video being shot in a big baseball stadium in my child brain. I also remember knowing the beat, although I wouldn't have known the term - was 'sampled' from Steely Dan. Something from Aja, maybe Peg or as it turned out Black Cow (MF Doom in 1989 later sampled the same cut on Gas Drawls). The Dan is of course ripe for sampling with its double rate session musicians and micro sampling of guitar solos by multiple guitarists. Its not a far stretch that their albums - post their debut Can't Buy A Thrill - when they moved past being a 'real band' to a studio band; if not The Studio Band; to describe their approach to the studio as an instrument as proto- Hip Hop.
|(l to r) Walter Becker and Donald Fagen|
Prominent contemporary Hip Hop artists that have sampled Steely Dan include notably De La Soul on Eye Know which samples another Aja staple Peg. Scene stealer Kanye West (before he became Kanye West- per se) sampled Kid Charlemagne (an ode to Owsley the LSD chemist working by 'candlelight' that kept the West Coast lit up and the Grateful Dead's Wall of Sound - known as Bear in those circles- rolling down the road) on Graduation's Champion. Ice Cube sampled Green Earrings from The Royal Scam on Don't Trust 'Em and Organized Konfusion sampled the same track a year before in 1991.
What's less known is that Steely Dan also 'sampled' or interpolated (replayed the hook or riff as a 'sample') on their own recordings. One of their lesser known but deeply revered albums Gaucho does this to masterful effect on the title track Gaucho, interpolating Keith Jarreau's Long As You Know You're Living Yours (1974) throughout the song.
Most notably their most palatable AM Gold staple Rikki Don't Lose That Number faithfully pulls its central melody from the opening notes of Horace Silver's Song For My Father. That ain't a rip off. That's an homage.