“Joni Mitchell never lies.”
Roberta Joan Mitchell, or simply Joni, is a living fucking treasure. She earned the trust of music’s greatest minds well before Metro Boomin was an acceptable barometer, broke through the folk blitz of the mid-sixties and commanded the respect of the jazz elite by the end of the next decade.
But by the nineties, as a prolific output slowed to a more even pace, the sampling generation of musicians would embrace Joni’s inventive melodies and hallmark float. And for her 74th, we’re digging in the Spotify crates for some of her greatest contributions to the ever-evolving worlds of hip-hop, house and r&b. There’s even a little love from the late Purple One, whose “Ballad of Dorothy Parker” tips its hat to the legendary Canadian songwriter.
Sure, Prince was the first (as he tended to be,) but he was far from the last to borrow a line or a flutter from Joni. Q-Tip and J Dilla brought Joni (and Janet Jackson) under one warm groove with The Ummah’s “Got Til It’s Gone,” but P.M. Dawn would beat them to the punch as perhaps the first group to sample Joni on “The Ways of The Wind,” from 1993’s The Bliss Album. Joni’s touch reaches outside of boom-bap and neo-soul, even, into four-to-the-floor freakouts and deeply experimental electronic suites; an unlikely, but fruitful source of sample fodder for generations still to come.
You can hear Joni Mitchell’s imprint In Hip-Hop and Beyond with our latest installment of the playlist series below.