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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."

  • Tyler Bunzey

Digging the Digital Crates: Aretha Franklin's Hip-Hop Honorarium

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (that's right, there was a queen before Mrs. Carter), passed away on August 16th, 2018. Franklin, the daughter of minister C.L. Franklin, blurred the boundaries between sacred and secular, imbuing her popular ballads with Spirit and life. No one could really cut it like Franklin.



Franklin has inspired a lot of hip-hop producers and emcees, and her music can be found sampled throughout hip-hop history.


Aretha's "Young, Gifted, and Black" (1972)...



...was sampled in Rah Digga ft. Mary J Blige "On the Move" (2004)



and my personal favorite, Rapsody's "Laila's Wisdom" (2017)



And America's favorite Aretha song, "Respect" (1967)



...was sampled in Kool Moe Dee's "No Respect" (1987) @00:52



and interpolated in Public Enemy's "Revolutionary Generation" (1990) @1:03



Franklin has been covered many times as well, especially "Respect." The National Review, after Franklin's death, said that Kelly Clarkson was a more versatile singer, also naming blue-eyed soul crooner Linda Rondstadt (https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/08/remembering-aretha-franklin-american-original/). Here's Clarkson's cover of "Respect" so you can judge for yourself:



(Honestly, it's not as bad as I expected.)


While Franklin has passed on, we will continue to spin her records and stream her tracks, and hip-hop will continue to sample her music. Hip-hop, a genre hyper-focused on sampling music with soul, wouldn't be what it is today without Franklin's work. Live on through our samples, Queen!

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