Ahmad Jamal, the legendary jazz pianist, passed away on July 10th, 2021, at the age of 91. While he was not a household name, his influence on modern music, particularly hip-hop, is undeniable.
Many hip-hop producers have an obsession with digging through dusty crates of vinyl records in search of old tunes to sample. And Ahmad Jamal's records are some of the most sought-after gems in those piles of vinyl.
The sample from "Swahililand" Ahmad Jamal's 1974 album, The Awakening, is one of the most used samples in hip-hop history. The melodic piano loop has been used by a diverse array of artists, including Nas, Snoop Dogg, The Roots, and countless others.
In particular, the track "I Love Music" by Ahmad Jamal Trio, from the album The Awakening, has been sampled over 200 times. Producers such as MF DOOM, Common, and Gang Starr have all used this sample in their music.
Jamal's impact on hip-hop is not limited to his samples, either. Artists like Guru, founder of the legendary hip-hop duo Gang Starr, have cited Ahmad Jamal as a significant influence on their sound.
Jamal's music was elegant and refined, yet funky and lively, which makes it perfect for sampling. It's no surprise that producers still dig through his records, seeking to find the next perfect loop to chop up and use in their tracks.
Ahmad Jamal was a true musical innovator and a legend who will be greatly missed. However, his contributions to hip-hop will continue to influence the genre for years to come. His music is a testament to the power of sampling and how it can breathe new life into old sounds. Rest in peace, Ahmad Jamal.