Music education always & always looking forward.

"Feel the Beat Drop / Jazz & Hip-Hop": Jazz Samples in Us3's "Cantaloop"

One of the most seamless fusions of jazz & hip-hop in contemporary popular music.


If you haven't played this song for your kids, what are you doing?

"But lady, I don't ever play popular music for my kids!  They need to only have the sounds of the great players in their ears!"

So you know, if they want to have a career like Eric Whitacre's, go to Julliard, and become one of the most beloved (and hilariously criticized) and commercially successful composers of the time, they can't listen to popular music.  

Except Whitacre is a pretty big Depeche Mode fan, y'know.  And not that Eric Whitacre is exactly the modern standardbearer.  But someone like Phillip Glass might very well be a standard bearer, and he wrote a whole symphony based on David Bowie songs.

So stop making excuses and play this particular song for your kids.  Especially the ones who are getting into Herbie Hancock.

“Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” - Us3


Intro: A rare rap group to sign to legendary Blue Note records, Us3 received a heavy airplay on both MTV and radio in 1993 with “Cantaloop.” The song reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, although it did not chart in the UK, Us3's home country, until it was reissued. It was the group's only Top 40 single, and it attained the rank of #41 on the 1994 year-end Billboard singles chart. Hand on the Torch, the album on which “Cantaloop” appeared, was Blue Note's biggest selling record of the 1990s.


Analysis: The basis of the song is an extensive sample of Herbie Hancock's “Cantalope Island”, recorded in 1964, on which Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams also played. Additional vocal samples were taken from Lou Donaldson's “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky (From Now On)” and Pee Wee Marquette's announcement of the Art Blakey Quintet in 1954. The main trumpet line heard on “Cantaloop”, however, was played by English trumpeter Gerard Presencer and recorded live.


Considerations for Teaching: There is no inappropriate language or subject matter to be found in this song. It is an excellent example of melding of styles, and an outstanding instance of emerging rap of the time helping pique an interest in jazz music, therefore making it an outstanding classroom listening example.

Jazz Samples in Digable Planets' "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)"

Popular Jazz Reappears: Jazz Samples in Nas's "Can't Forget About You"