Archive for the ‘Know Your Samples’ Category


Nearly 22 years since she sang her last note, Phyllis Hyman presence still looms large in the music world. As a vocalist, she is one of the most unique and versatile voices ever. And yet, she remains underrated by much of the mainstream, as she unfortunately was for most of her career. On Mother’s Day, we at BeatsBoxingMayhem review the career of a singer adept at jazz, soul and dance, and who in her later years began to embrace and influence Hip-Hop culture.


Phyllis Hyman was born on July 6, 1949 in Philadelphia. The eldest of seven children, those who knew her marvel that she was always vocally inclined and had a “mature” sound even in her youth. After attending music school, she paid her dues in local groups throughout the early to mid-70s before achieving her big break upon relocating to New York City in 1975.

While working at a Manhattan nightclub, her singing caught the ear of Norman Connors, who featured her on the Stylistics remake “Betcha By Golly Wow.” The track was included on Connors’ hit album You Are My Starship and lead to Hyman inking a solo deal with Buddah Records.


Her self-titled debut came in 1977. The album is a nice overview of Hyman’s vocal versatility, starting off with the long-play disco track “Losing You,” and moving onto searing ballads like “I Don’t Want to Lose You,” and later dance tracks like “Beautiful Man of Mine and “One Thing On My Mind.” Under any setting, her voice was never overpowered or too heavy on the production.

The ballads proved fruitful for Hip-Hop producers. The album’s first slow jam, “No One Can Love You More,” would have its opening notes utilized by !llmind for Skyzoo’s “Dear Whoever,” and her lyrics (“Why should I play games?”) at the 39-second mark by Showbiz for Chi Ali and Fat Joe’s “Games and Things.”

Phyllis Hyman – “No One Can Love You More”

Skyzoo – “Dear Whoever”

Chi Ali ft. Fat Joe – “Games and Things”

That’s not to say there isn’t heat on the uptempo tracks. 9th Wonder seems to have been especially enamored with this album, using “Beautiful Man of Mine” for “The Cross,” off his celebrated God’s Stepson remake project.

“Beautiful Man of Mine” (4m-4:13 mark)

9th Wonder x Nas – “The Cross”

9th revisited this album again and got the backdrop for the 2005’s “Star Agents” from Hyman’s “One Thing On My Mind.”

“One Thing On My Mind” (Sample at 3:46 mark)

“Star Agents”



Phyllis ran into a roadblock when she tried to follow-up her debut quickly with the 1978 sophomore project Sing a Song. Buddah Records had gone bankrupt, leaving her in limbo until Arista Records brought out their catalog. They brought in Phyllis as Clive Davis saw the 6’1 beauty as a potential breakout star.

But star in the eyes of Davis translates as “mainstream/pop star,” and her first Arista project, Somewhere In My Lifetime,” reflected that with the title track produced by Barry Manilow. Nonetheless, soulful tracks could still be found like “Living Inside Your Love.” One of strongest ballads, the plush “Be Careful,” showcased Phyllis’ powerful phrasing and became the inspiration for Wale’s 2011 mixtape track “Samples N Shit.”

“Be Careful”

Wale – “Samples N Shit”

And never one to miss a G-Funk sample, Snoop and Tha Eastsidaz found a gem with the opening chords of “Gonna Make Changes.”

“Gonna Make Changes”

Tha Eastsidaz – “Me and Mines”

Photo of Phyllis Hyman


Hyman scored her first Top 20 hit with the classic single “You Know How to Love Me,” which served as the title track for her 1981 album. The project was helmed by hitmakers Jame Mtume and Reggie Lucas. Despite this success, the tension with Arista and Clive Davis remained high as Hyman had not crossed over as intended.

But Hyman kept busy, receiving rave reviews for her Broadway work on Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, earning a Tony nomination.

During these years, two notable samples hit Hyman’s resume. The first was in the form of a guest spot on the soundtrack for A Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.¬†Method Man and Redman would have an “Ayo” moment over “Magic Mona.” The second is J. Cole’s “Roll Call” referencing “Just Another Face in the Crowd,” off Hyman’s fifth project Can’t We Fall In Love Again.

MAGIC MONA (opening chords)

Method Man x Redman – “Ayo”


J Cole – “Roll Call”

Rumored issues with Hyman’s temperament resulted in Mtume and Lucas not returning for the next album, Goddess of Love, which broke Top 20 on the R&B charts. Arista declined to renew Hyman’s contract, resulting¬†in bitterness on her side due to the label clearly dumping her in favor of new stars like Whitney Houston and Angela Bofill.



Her new label home, Philadelphia International, got her back on track with 1986’s Living All Alone. The heartfelt sadness of the title track made it one of her biggest hits and offered a glimpse into the real-life pain the singer was going through. Diagnosed as bipolar, she self-medicated with food, which caused dramatic shifts in weight, and drugs like cocaine. Still, the stage is where all such issues ceased, as evidenced by this masterful performance on Saturday Night Live.

The opening haunting chords of “Living All Alone” resonated with producer Nicolay of Foreign Exchange, who used it for “The Answer.”


Foreign Exchange “The Answer”

Another album cut proved to be a favorite of Wiz Khalifa and 9th Wonder, who both narrowed in on Phyllis’ crooning towards the end of “Ain’t You Had Enough Love.”


Little Brother – “Star”

Wiz Khalifa – “So Much”

Although she wouldn’t record another album for five years, the success of Living All Alone afforded Phyllis other opportunities, such as this prominent jazz number in Spike Lee’s School Daze.



When Hyman returned in 1991 with Prime of My Life, the music scene was markedly different. Hip-Hop was no longer seen as a fad — it had morphed into a global phenomenon that dictated popular music. Instead of resisting Hip-Hop like some of her peers, she embraced the youthful art form on what would become her first and only #1 single, “Don’t Want to Change the World.” As expected, some critics derided it as a sellout move, being especially critical of the New Jack Swing production and Phyllis herself spitting bars (!).

Hyman explained the move as one made with the intention of connecting with another aspect of her culture.



“I’m tired. I’m tired. Those of you that I love know who you are. May God Bless you.”

Sadly, Phyllis Hyman could not overcome her demons. Depression took a hold of her and she attempted suicide twice before finally succeeding on June 30, 1995 by swallowing pills in her Manhattan apartment. Her death came just hours before a scheduled performance that evening at the Apollo.

Two posthumous albums were released in 1995 and 1998. Her unreleased material has also found life in Hip-Hop, with Kanye West using her “In a Sentimental Mood” for “Back to Basics.”

“In a Sentimental Mood”

Kanye West ft. Common – “Back to Basics”¬†

Next month, Phyllis Hyman would have celebrated her 68th birthday. BeatsBoxingMayhem honors her rich musical legacy that lives on through her fans and Hip-Hop. We love you, Phyllis.




Music fans the world over were saddened by Thursday’s news on the passing of Main Ingredient lead singer Cuba Gooding Sr. Today, we here at BeatsBoxingMayhem salute the man and his legacy by highlighting his group’s most important samples in Hip-Hop.


Formed in Harlem in 1964, the group originally featured a lineup of Donald McPheron (lead singer), Luther Simmons Jr. and Tony Silvester. The trio went through several names changes (The Poets, The Insiders) before settling on The Main Ingredient in 1968, picking a name inspired by the label of a Coke bottle.

After bouncing around a few labels, the group began making noise in 1970 with the Top 30 hit “You’ve Been My Inspiration.” The song powered the group’s debut project LTD.¬†Decades later, the album cut “Magic Shoes” found new life as the opening sounds of the classic Main Source 1992 single “Fakin’ the Funk,” and Little Brother’s “On the Way.”




9th Wonder continued digging in the trio’s catalogue¬†and chopped up the beginning of “Baby Change Your Mind,” off their third album Black Seeds.




Success was soon mired by immense tragedy in 1971 when lead singer Don McPherson died from leukemia. Gooding Sr., who had previously sung background vocals for the group, was selected as the replacement to accompany Luther Simmons and Tony Silvester.

The decision had immediate dividends with their biggest hit in “Everybody Plays the Fool.” The song hit #2 on the R&B chart and #3 on pop, powering the album Bitter Sweet for their first Top 10 project. Emcees such as Heavy D, Memphis Bleek and Kool G Rap would create drastically different songs with the original’s easygoing production.





The next album, Afrodisiac, is notable for recruiting a powerhouse writing and production team that included George Clinton and Stevie Wonder. For Hip-Hop fans, the track “Something ‘Bout Love” is most notable for providing the backdrop to the Fugees’ “Cowboys.”



1974’s Euphrates River produced the platinum single “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely.” The heavy opening bassline would be tweaked by Eminem for his “Mosh” single.


Producer Easy Mo Bee would combine the opening seconds from “California My Way” and a fleeting but recurring melody from “Summer Breeze” (9 second mark) for Ready To Die’s “Things Done Changed.”




In 1975, the group released the album Shame On the World¬†and caught the ear of Alchemist and Kanye West on “Let Me Prove My Love to You.” The former focused on the 13 second mark to craft “The First to Drop a Beat…,” while Ye hit up the 1:46 portion to give Alicia Keys one of her most soulful records.




Main Ingredient would record five more albums over the next 30 years, the last being 2001’s Pure Magic. Gooding would also release 3 solo albums. We here at BeatsBoxingMayhem send our condolences to the Gooding family. The music and legacy lives on.




The group known as Mandrill is no stranger the sampling. The multi-faceted band, formed in 1968, have seen their work utilized from dozens of Hip-Hop artists dating back to the artform’s inception in the late 70s. With their combination of funk, salsa, blues and soul, Mandrill’s sound is equally at home with conscious and street emcees.

The late Shawty Lo, who tragically passed away yesterday in a car accident, had his biggest commercial hit when producer Balis Beats sampled Mandrill’s “Children of the Sun,” off their sophomore 1972 album Mandrill Is.




Fresh off a well-received collaborative album with Apollo Brown, Rapper Big Pooh’s encore will be¬†a project entirely produced by Grammy award-winning boardsmith Nottz. Their first salvo uses Minnie Riperton’s “Memory Lane” as a backdrop. No word yet on a release date or title.¬†The¬†duo is off to a¬†very promising start…


No one is above petty Twitter beef. Early this morning, Cheryl Lynn of “Got To Be Real” fame went after fellow legend Anita Baker for blocking her on Twitter. According to Lynn, the two had been friendly for decades until recently. Lynn claims Baker abruptly cut off contact, but of course we know there’s two sides to every story. The irony is seeing their¬†older¬†fans taking sides and throwing insults no differently than you see teenagers do.

Everyone’s singing voices change with age, so Lynn’s jabs about Baker’s current voice and being able to blow her off stage in a face-off is possible — maybe even likely based on their vocal styles. However, we know who holds the edge when it comes to catalogue.

Read the tweets and get a good laugh to start your day. And if you don’t think this is Hip-Hop, check some of the samples below.








Earlier this week, Drake shocked the music world with the release of his fourth mixtape,¬†If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. One of the standout songs is “Jungle,” a track that finds Drake struggling with whether he’s able to emotionally handle a long-term, committed relationship. The sample is a slow-churning groove accompanied by the subdued musings of soul artist Gabriel Garzon Montano, a New York native who’s recently been on tour with Lenny Kravitz and released his debut, Bishoune: Alma Del Huila, last year. The album opens with the below song entitled “6 8.”


And here is Drake’s version, as heard through the production lenses of Noah “40” Shebib.


Kendrick Lamar – “I”

Posted: September 23, 2014 by Ismael AbduSalaam in Know Your Samples, Music News
Tags: , , , , ,


Kendrick Lamar is back with “I,” the first single off his still untitled sophomore album. Most music fans will immediately recognize the Isley Brothers sample of “Who’s That Lady.” The lyrical content revolves around loving and believing in yourself despite the desolate nature of the world surrounding us (“the world is a ghetto…”).

The song structure features an instrumental breakdown/jam session in the final minute. Overall, you get the feel of an album cut that Outkast might have done in their heyday. Make no mistake — this will not blow you away or come off as a triumphant first single. For now, we’ll just have to remember the excellent good kidd m.A.A.d. city and have faith this track fits into the grand scheme of K-dot’s second album concept.