Mask Off: 14 Songs That Prove The Flute Was Always Hip-Hop's Secret Weapon [Playlist]

As the #MaskOffChallenge rages on the internets, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the evergreen enchantment of hip-hop’s longstanding secret weapon: the flute.

Though Future and Metro Boomin have been credited with reprising the unsuspecting woodwind on their smash, a thorough examination of hip-hop’s jazz-leaning adolescence reveals the flute’s origins in the genre, and how well it’s held up in all realms of music. Lest we forget J Dilla‘s flip of Rene Costy‘s “Scrabble” on his seminal anti-police anthem or A Tribe Called Quest marauding Roy Ayers‘ “Feel Like Making Love” for the propulsive “Keep It Rollin'” or No I.D.’s recalibration of Quincy Jones‘ “Snow Creatures” for Common‘s “Tricks Up My Sleeve.”

Each of these joints is not shy in their use of the flute as an accent or leading riff. Each of them belongs to albums adored by heads of all ages, serving as necessary and proper reinforcement of the genre’s decades-long love affair with the instrument. So by all means, musicians, continue to strut your mastery in these #MaskOffChallenges. Just always remember that when it comes to the flute, the ATLien hit-machine is just the latest in a long line of luminaries keeping its lilt in the pocket.

Hear 14 songs that prove the flute is and always will be hip-hop’s secret weapon, featuring Dilla, Guru, Common, Schoolboy Q, Talib Kweli, Dr. Dre and more legends of the game.