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My blog is my space to highlight academic work outside of my formal publications. Posts vary from short essays to album reviews to exemplary student work to small sample-digs that I use as warm-ups for my courses. This blog also contains the burgeoning archive of artist interviews that I am collecting for my dissertation, "Writing in the Break."

  • Writer's pictureTyler Bunzey

Digging the Digital Crates: A Hip-Hop Memorial for the Average White Band's Malcolm "Molly" Duncan

On Tuesday, October 8, 2019 Malcolm "Molly" Duncan, the saxophonist and vocalist of the legendary Average White Band, passed away. This sample dig is in honor of all of the funky sounds he gave us during his time on earth, and the impact that those sounds had on hip-hop.

The Average White Band was of course far from average, and the Scottish Funk Band formed in 1972. Their undeniable groove and funk inspired over 434 samples of their work throughout hip-hop history, including groups like the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Too $hort, Ice Cube, TLC, Eric B. and Rakim, A Tribe Called Quest, and many others. According to their Wikipedia page, this makes them the 15th most sample act in history.

Their 1976 hit "Love Your Life" [@3:39]

was famously sampled in A Tribe Called Quest's 1991 hit "Check the Rhime."

The 1975 track "School Boy Crush"

was sampled in Nas' "Halftime" from the iconic Illmatic album (1994)

AND Eric B. and Rakim's 1988 "Microphone Fiend"

AND Too $hort's 1988 "Life is...Too Short" [@0:28]

AND TLC's 1991 "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg"

AND (yeah still all from the same track) Big L's 1998 "8 Iz Enuff," Floetry ft. Mos Def's 2005 "Wanna B Where U R," De La Soul's 1989 "D.A.I.S.Y. Age," Mobb Deep's 1995 "Where Ya At?," and Lord Finesse's 1994 "Shorties Kaught in the System (S.K.I.T.S.)."

Average White Band teamed up with Ben E. King in 1977 to make "A Star in the Ghetto"

which was sampled in N.W.A.'s 1988 "If It Ain't Ruff."

Average White Band's 1973 "Reach Out"

was sampled in Ice Cube's 1991 "Steady Mobbin'"

and Boogie Down Productions' 1990 "House Niggas." [@0:47]

This is just a smattering of all of the foundational samples that Duncan and AWB contributed to hip-hop's sonic history. RIP Molly!

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