Know Your Samples: Minnie Riperton

Posted: July 23, 2010 by Ismael AbduSalaam in Know Your Samples
Tags: , , , , , ,

For many casual listeners, Minnie Riperton is remembered as a one hit wonder of sorts for her classic 1975 single “Loving You.” That is truly a shame because Minnie has, in my opinion, of the greatest voices and octave ranges in music history. Over 30 years after her tragic early death, I take a look back on how Riperton’s music has blessed Hip-Hop culture.

Minnie Julia Riperton was born in Chicago on November 8, 1947, the youngest of 8 children. Her parents recognized her predeliction to music early on, and enrolled her in operatic training at the Lincoln Center. While she would retain her opera influences, Riperton later dropped out of college to pursue soul and rock music.

After bumping around in the mid 60s singing backup with assorted girl groups, Riperton recorded her first solo songs (“Lonely Girl,” “You Gave Me Soul”) under the pseudonym Andrea Davis, which was in honor of her producer/mentor Billy Davis. The tracks drew the attention of the psychedelic rock band Rotary Connection, and she joined the collective to release their 1967 self-titled debut.

The group released 6 albums through 1970. With wild concepts like the marijunana-themed Christmas album Peace, Minnie got to experiment with her voice over rock, soul, and R&B rhythms. Little did Minnie know that she would also be making her first contributions to Hip-Hop.

The song “Memory Band” features Riperton engaging in an angelic chant over the group’s funky yet airy production. This would later become the sounds that introduced A Tribe Called Quest into my life on “Bonita Applebum.”

Rotary Connection “Memory Band”

In other cases, it was just short clips of the group’s drum patterns that supplied the foundation for emcees.

(Drums start at 3:14)

Eric B & Rakim “Rest Assured”

Kanye West got a hold of their last album Hey Love and crafted a production gem for Common and Lily Allen off “Love Has Fallen On Me.”

(SAMPLE STARTS AT 1:23 MARK)

***

Minnie Goes Solo

When  Minnie Riperton struck out on her own in 1970, she hooked up with legendary producer Charles Stepney to oversee every aspect of her debut. The result was Come to My Garden, a stunning mix of classical and jazz arrangements with soaring operatic vocals from Minnie. The sound is very unique even today, and although not a hit then, it stands as my favorite Minnie Riperton album. Stepney’s work gives the LP a whimsical, fantasy-like element that she would never have again in her later works.

Even today, only a few Hip-Hop producers have delved into this album.

MINNER RIPERTON “RAINY DAY IN CENTERVILLE” (SAMPLE BEGINS AT 1:54 MARK)

Nas “Where Y’all At”

***********************************************

Minnie Riperton “Only When I’m Dreaming”

Smif N Wessun “Hellucination”

Will.i.am feat. Phife “Nah Mean”

****************************************************************

It would be 4 years before Minnie dropped her sophomore LP Perfect Angel. It started off slow until “Lovin’ You” was released. It turned out to be her biggest single and pushed the album to gold status. Stevie Wonder produced two very underrated tracks in “Take a Little Trip” and “Perfect Angel,” which were perfect sample tracks for Hip-Hop producers with a discerning ear.

Minnie Riperton “Perfect Angel”

Fabe “Des Durs Des Boss”

**************************************************

Minnie Riperton “Take a Little Trip”

No ID “Pray for the Sinners”

**************************************************************

Minnie came right back in 1975 with Adventures in Paradise. It didn’t match the success of Perfect Angel, but it was an epic offering for beatmakers courtesy of one of my favorite Riperton tunes, “Inside My Love.” Everyone from the late J Dilla to Tribe tackled the track, most notably reworking her famous song-ending long note.

Minnie Riperton “Inside My Love”

A Tribe Called Quest “Lyrics to Go”

Kenny Dope “Get On Down”

Slum Village “The Look of Love Remix”

Nas “Everyday Thing”

*************************************************

Other producers focused on the rest of the album and pulled samples from “Baby, this Love I Have” and “Adventures in Paradise.”

Minnie Riperton “Adventures in Paraside”

Eminem- “Anyman”

************************************************

Minnie Riperton “Baby This Love I Have”

A Tribe Called Quest “Check the Rhime”

Soul IV Real “Candy Rain”

Minnie Riperton “Minne’s Lament”

Xzibit “Eyes May Shine”

********************************************************

Minnie Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer in1976. She was only given six months to live, but kept the terminal prognosis a secret and kept touring until she passed away in 1979 at the age of 31. She died in the arms of her husband at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, while a tape Stevie Wonder made for her played in the background.

Her posthumous 1980 album Love Lives Forever featured the Peabo Bryson duet “Here We Go.” This song’s lush beginning instrumentation provided a great foundation for several Hip-Hop tracks.

Minnie Riperton “Here We Go”

AZ feat. Nas “Gimme Yours”

 Make no mistake, this entry just barely scratched the surface of the Hip-Hop songs that sample Minnie Riperton. A part 2 and even 3 are warranted. If you enjoy great music, make it a point to dig into her catalogue.

Rotary Connection

Rotary Connection (1967)

Aladdin (1968)

Peace (1968)

Songs (1969)

Dinner Music (1970)

Hey Love (1971)

Minnie Riperton

Come to My Garden (1970)

Perfect Angel (1974)

Adventures in Paradise (1975)

Stay in Love (1977)

Minnie (1979)

Love Lives Forever (1980)

 

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Comments
  1. Water Ur Seeds says:

    Man I LOVE Minnie Riperton, She sang straight from the heart, you feel every word from her soul, her voice and words hit you… Its hard to believe when She sung ‘Loving You’ I think She was suffering with Cancer… RIP

  2. […] And before the release of 2006′s Hip Hop Is Dead, fans were in a frenzy off the throwback feel of the leaked “Where Y’all At,” which featured a clever reworking of a break on Minnie Riperton’s “Rainy Day in Centerville.” […]

  3. […] one of myfavorite tracks off Doe or Die, so I was skeptical about AZ being able to improve on the Minnie Riperton-assisted original. The new beat isn’t as smooth; Statik Selektah adds much more thump than the lush, R&B […]

  4. Reblogged this on Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah Blog and commented:
    After tuning into WBLS-FM this evening and listening and swaying to a suite of hippitydippityhopheavenly songs by A Tribe Called Quest — including “Lyrics to Go,” which samples Minnie Riperton’s “Inside My Love” and loops her incredible, extended note in the whistle register appropriately on that ballad’s climax — I turned to the Internet to research how many rap tracks sampled Riperton’s voice and/or instrumental hooks from songs that she recorded solo and, years prior, with the band Rotary Connection. Serendipity intervened when I found Ismael AbdulSalam’s excellent blog post, which I’ve reblogged here.

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