In Hip-Hop and Beyond: Thelonious Monk [Playlist]

Celebrating the 100th birthday of a jazz giant

The off-kilter genius of Thelonious Monk ranks amongst music most cherished. And not without cause.

WATCH: Thelonious Monk Jamming Out In This Exclusive Preview Of The Jazz Loft Documentary

A longtime NYC-resident (by way of North Carolina) and largely self-schooled pianist, Monk’s distinctive sense of melody and rhythm are cornerstone to the experimental foundation of jazz that pushed it through the roofs of smoke-stained clubs and into the cosmic spheres of music. His influence is readily identifiable in contemporaries like Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner, but had passed roughly a decade prior to seeing his work incorporated in the still-blossoming culture of hip-hop, embracing the quiet pianist’s meter and compositions by way of the still-new-at-the-time sampling tradition.

HEAR: In Hip-Hop and Beyond: Junie Morrison [Playlist]

Early borrowers of Monk’s touch and feel included the likes of RZA, DJ Premier and later, Madlib. But before sampling even became the accessible and malleable machine for beat-crafting, forward-minded musicians like Frank Zappa, Chaka Khan and others quoted his unconventional lines and phrasings in session and onstage.

As a salute to that incomparable legacy in hip-hop and well beyond, we’ve assembled some of Monk’s most sampledelic works into one sequence, peppered with the tracks that recalibrated his avant-groove. Hear it below in a generation-bridging playlist. No chaser necessary.



Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

Published by

Recent Posts

What Does Law Roach’s Retirement Say About the State of the Fashion Industry?

Lurking behind celebrity stylist Law Roach's retirement is a sinister reminder of the dire state… Read More

March 18, 2023

Best Songs of The Week: ft. Alchemist, KIRBY, and More

The Round-Up is Okayplayer’s weekly playlist of the best songs in the worlds of hip-hop… Read More

March 17, 2023

8 New Albums You Should Be Listening To (March 17)

Mac Ayres, ELHAE, EST GEE, and LQ Malique released new albums that caught our attention… Read More

March 17, 2023

The De La Soul Catalog is Thriving, But Where’s The “Buddy” Remix?

The revered remix for "Buddy" first appeared on the 12" vinyl release of the single… Read More

March 17, 2023

‘The Wire’ Actor Lance Reddick Found Dead at 60

Lance Reddick was found unresponsive in his home. The actor, best known for playing Cedric… Read More

March 17, 2023

The 19 Best Erykah Badu Songs

From “Love of My Life” to “Green Eyes,” here are the 19 best Erykah Badu… Read More

March 17, 2023