Of its myriad mothers and fathers, hip-hop has arguably inherited the largest bulk of its immutable cool from vibraphonic virtuoso Roy Ayers.
If Clyde Stubblefield imbued it with a rhythmic skeleton, it was Ayers that provided the veins of hip-hop. Whereas some contemporaries have warred with “four-bar phantom loops,” Ayers embraced them, absorbed them even. He was the very phantom behind the loop, a principal architect that’s shaped movements well beyond the cool, soulful, politically-edged crossover jazz of the 70s aughts, and into the disco-leaning tail of the decade. As hip-hop left its infancy, it was his mallets that ushered in its maturation. If Native Tongues caught the jazz, it was all his damn fault.
Today, in celebration of his 78th birthday, we’ve gathered some of his greatest contributions to a distinctly American canon. 30 tracks spanning multiple eras, disciplines, and disciples, featuring selections from Jay Dee, The Beat Konducta, Old Metal Fingers, and the gamut of Golden Age gawds.
Hear it all in the latest installment of In Hip-Hop and Beyond below. Hit the link to subscribe to Okayplayer’s Spotify channel for even more guided meditations on the path of rhythm.
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