Today, the Slab Fork, West Virginia native celebrates his 80th birthday. As an ode to his immeasurable stamp on music and the countless standards contributed to the American songwriting canon, we’re putting one up for the legend with another installation of In Hip-Hop and Beyond.
My research for this particular episode of the series has convinced beyond any measure of doubt that the wistful “Kissing My Love” drum shuffle and the iconically somber “Ain’t No Sunshine” hook may be the two most borrowed pieces of musical DNA in hip-hop. But 2Pac’s “Soulja’s Story” and Schooly D’s “Education of a Black Man” are only a sliver of The Withers Effect.
Here, I’ve compiled a sequence that underscores the impact of a living giant, quiet as he is in this late phase of an unfuckwitable career. From New Jack to Horrorcore, Boom Bap to G-Funk, there’s no era of hip-hop, r&b, or soul, that hasn’t bared his mark. And I’ll be damned if we aren’t all better for it.
Raise a glass to the king and hit play on the latest In Hip-Hop and Beyond playlist below. Subscribe to Okayplayer’s Spotify channel and never wonder what’s next on the rotation.