Music education always & always looking forward.

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

Samples that cement hip-hop as a natural successor to jazz. 

"When do you get all of this time to play popular music in your classroom, huh?!"

Well, we all have crazy schedules pertaining to testing, days where our students eat lunch in our classrooms (mine do every Friday), days after concerts, days when bad weather or other precarious situations dictate that we spend more time in our classrooms than usual.  Sure, kids can rehearse the snot out of that time, but at some point, middle schoolers are going to get restless.   

Hence these listening samples come into play.  One afternoon, I played this song as well as a few other "old school" hip-hop songs for one of my beginning band classes, and they told me this was by far their favorite song out of the ones I'd played.

“Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” - Digable Planets


Intro: The rap trio scored their highest charting hit with their first single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” in 1992. The song reached #1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart and #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was certified gold in 1993 and has subsequently been sampled in its original mix by many other artists since that time. It won the 1993 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.


Analysis: Much of the album Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space), the album on which “Rebirth of Slick” appears is heavily based on samples. In “Rebirth of Slick”, the primary sample is that of Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers' “Stretching”; “Rebirth” samples both the bassline and the horn motifs from “Stretching.” Also in the song, rappers Butterfly, Ladybug Mecca and Doodlebug each discuss the influence of jazz musicians such as Miles Davis. The heavy sampling and references to jazz are indicative of that late 1980s/early 1990s period in hip-hop, prior to the prevalence of gangsta rap starting in 1992.


Considerations for Teaching: The song can be used strongly to demonstrate use of jazz samples in later music, but there is mild use of profane language occurring periodically throughout the song. The chorus, containing no profanity, demonstrates a good portion of the Art Blakey sample, and the chorus as performed by Ladybug Mecca is an early example of a prominent female rapper.

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