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Today Stevie Wonder turned 53 years young. In honor of the soul man’s birthday, I decided to select various hip-hop songs that have sampled Stevie Wonder’s music. Enjoy.

 

I can never get enough of the Madlib-MF Doom collaboration. Classic track from the duo. They sampled Stevie’s 1968 song, “How Can You Believe?”.

 

 

Dilla always seems to make Mixtape Monday – this time it’s a cut off his famous album Donuts. The Stevie sample is from the well-known song, “For Once In My Life”.

 

 

How about some old J. Cole to start the week? The beautiful loop you hear throughout this one is from the 1969 song, “My Cherie Amour”.

 

 

Let’s continue with the New York rap. Wu-tang up next. One of my favorite songs from Stevie, “Living for the City” is sampled by the Wu.

 

 

More from New York – but a different group: A Tribe Called Quest. New York loves some Stevie Wonder. The sampled is from “Sir Duke”.

 

 

From east coast to west coast. 2pac makes his Mixtape Monday debut, and gets the closer in this week’s edition. The Stevie song used is “Part Time Lover”

 

 

Enjoy your week all. Happy 53rd Stevie! Thanks for the great music, and the subsequent contributions to hip-hop.

 

 

Wolf_Cover2

Tyler the Creator has eased back on the aggressive approach with Wolf. He has made it clear with his new album that he’s moved on from his younger, pre-fame self. His first two albums consisted of dark, violent, gruesome, provocative lyrics. The 22-year-old rapper proved his versatility and creative ability with his latest project. In addition, there is more of an emphasis on production over lyrical content. In fact, Tyler handled all of the production.

While there are still many pugnacious tones and lyrics, Wolf has lighter points throughout. The album sheds a portion of the angry, murderous, devilish temptations that Bastard and Goblin consisted of. Softer is a good thing. So is hostility. But it’s a matter of timing; and at this point in his career, Tyler needed to throw a change-up.

The rebellious attitude in his first two albums was needed to reach success. Now that he is accomplished, he can ease back on the attack, and become more reflective. As Tyler said in SPIN Magazine back then he was broke. Now he has money. Now he is hanging out with celebrities. His life has changed and therefore so will the content of his music.

This is apparent in the second track off the album, Jamba, where he raps:

 

“I’m animals, Noah’s Ark, and all from this rapping nonsense /

Four stories in my home like “what the F**k’s an apartment?”

And the song Cowboy, where he tells more about his newly acquired fame:

“That’s how it goes – designing clothes, cats on everything, cats on everything /

You think all this money will make a happy me /

But I’m about as lonely as crackers that supermodels eat.”

 

The humorous references remain in tact, and there are plenty of them, but the delivery is not as aggressive.

More fame references show up in Rusty:

 

“Hated the popular ones, now I’m the popular one /

Also hated homes too, ‘til I start coppin’ me some”

 

In the song Colussus, Tyler elaborates on the annoyances of fame – in this case he vents his frustration with fans approaching him. The song has a very similar vibe to Eminem’s Stan – perhaps it may have influenced Colussus. Tyler raps from the perspective of the fan:

 

“My life is just like yours, no father /

My momma must have forgot to stop with a pop condom /

In school I was the one thinking outside the boxes /

So everybody in them would say I got problems.

Tyler, I love you, I wanna be just like you (alright) /

I think about your face and I don’t even f**king try to (no homo) /

Wish I had a basement mitt for me to hide you /

We could play X-Box and listen to ‘In Search of…’ and eat donuts

Over conversating about what church does.”

 

 

Besides his fame-influenced lyrics, we also see a more reflective side of Tyler when he speaks about his father on the song Answer:

 

“Mom was only twenty when you ain’t have any f**ks to spare /

You Nigerian f**k, now I’m stuck with this shitty facial hair /

Also stuck with a beautiful home with a case stairs /

So you not being near f**king fire-started my damn career.”

 

 

Those lines were from the first verse where Tyler shares some bitter feelings towards his father, noting that his absence helped inspire his early albums. But the chorus indicates a Tyler who is torn between feelings, as he raps:

 

“I hope you pick up your phone /

I’d like to talk to you /

I hope you answer.”

 

Aside from lyrical progression, Tyler’s growth as an artist is noticeable in the amount of guests who contribute to the album. Of course, most members of Odd Future such as Hodgy Beats, Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis, Earl, and Jasper among others make routine appearances. But for the first time ever on a Tyler album, features extend beyond the Odd Future crew. Most notably, Neo-Soul queen Erykah Badu practically has her own song on the album, and veteran rapper Pharrell shows up on the track IFHY. There is also an intro/outro where Nas speaks, on the song 48.

 

Tyler made an impressive move when he allowed Erykah Badu to do most of the singing on the track Treehome95. Tyler has a few vocals but mostly linger behind the hooks and verses from Badu and another female artist, Coco O. Tyler, meanwhile, handled the production on the song with a smooth, soulful jazz vibe.

 

 

The production throughout the album was impressive. Tyler made great use of the piano/keys on Wolf, Colussus, Cowboy, Awkward, and Slater. But overall, the music was diverse enough to maintain a firm grip on the listener, while not completely losing the ‘Odd Future’ sound.

Whether you like it or not, this is the album that shows Tyler’s progression. Goblin and Bastard brought him into the game, and Wolf will keep him there. Solid stuff from Tyler lyric, production and delivery-wise.

 

Buy Wolf on iTunes

Buy Wolf on Amazon