SAMPLED examines the skeletal production of a contemporary rap, R&B, hip-hop or pop song — Where did the loop, sample, or chopped up vocal providing the backbone originate? SAMPLED gives you the history, the context, and the insight.
This week, we’re breaking down the jazzy sample that forms the basis for Joey Bada$$ and Chance The Rapper’s collaboration “Wendy N Becky”:
How do you tackle the historical significance of a sample from a piece of music by one of the most influential musicians of all time? The compositions of John Coltrane have been sampled by Chaka Khan, Ghostface Killa, The Pharcyde, Lupe Fiasco, Flying Lotus, and dozens more, which should be enough to convince you that the bepop and free jazz pioneer’s virtuosic saxophone playing can be a perfect building block for a hip-hop classic.
“Naima” is a ballad composed by John Coltrane in 1959, appearing on the album Giant Steps. Named after Coltrane’s wife Juanita Naima Grubbs, “Naima” features a laid-back, restrained melody, underscored by drifting jazz chords, a bass pedal, and some light snare brushing. It has since become somewhat of a jazz standard, and is considered to be one of Trane’s most important recordings.
“Naima” by John Coltrane was recently sampled by Chicago producer Thelonius Martin on the beat for “Wendy N Becky” by Joey Bada$$, featuring Chance The Rapper:
The eighteen-year-old Joey Bada$$ is one of Brooklyn’s hottest up-and-coming exports, and both Chance The Rapper and producer Thelonius Martin rep the booming Chicago area, so this collaboration is effectively a representation of the frontrunners from two respective hip-hop scenes. Thelonius Martin is just nineteen years old, but he’s already placed beats with artists such as Hodgy Beats and Action Bronson. Gathering influence from producers like J Dilla, Just Blaze, and The Alchemist, Martin twists funk, soul, and jazz samples into boom-bap trunk slappers.
On “Wendy N Becky,” Thelonius Martin chops an eight bars loop from the beginning of “Naima,” pitches it up, and layers in some funky drum samples, giving Joey Bada$$ and Chance The Rapper plenty of room to show us why they’re two of the hottest rappers going right now.