Musician Responsible For Nas’ “NY State Of Mind” Sample Passes Away

Musician Responsible For Nas’ “NY State Of Mind” Sample Passes Away

Jazz musician, Donald Byrd, most known for being sampled on rap veteran Nas‘ “New York State of Mind” amongst other notable hip-hop anthems has passed away this week at the age of 80.

After early week rumblings, Donald Byrd’s nephew confirmed the rumors of his untimely death.

Legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died earlier this week at the age of 80, but news of his death was only just confirmed. Amoeba reports that Byrd’s nephew, Alex Bugnon, confirmed via Facebook that his uncle died on Feb. 4, adding that for an unexplained reason other family members were trying to keep the news of his death private. “I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family,” wrote Bugnon. (Huffington Post)

Prior to becoming a go-to for hip-hop producers, Byrd made a name for himself in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Byrd was born in Detroit in 1932, and joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1956, performing on over 50 recordings by the likes of John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley,Kenny Burrell, Jackie McLean and Hank Mobley, before leading his own group in 1958. Perhaps best known for his Mizell Brothers-produced 1973 LP Black Byrd, which at one point was Blue Note’s highest-selling LP of all time, Byrd went on to score major hits with his R&B fusion group the Blackbyrds, including dance-floor favorite “Rock Creek Park” and “Walking in Rhythm.” Byrd’s work spanned decades of jazz and funk, from bebop and soul to R&B, inspiring acid jazz and fusion, always progressive, always testing his limits. (Spinner)

His music has touched the lives and recordings of hip-hop groups including Public Enemy and the Pharcyde.

Long after his commercial peak, Byrd’s influence continued to be felt in popular music, sampled by hip-hop artists including Public Enemy, Nas, the Pharcyde and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and house producer Armand Van Helden. (The Guardian)

New York rapper Talib Kweli paid homage to Byrd’s legacy following confirmation of his passing.

“One of our musical heroes has passed. Donald Byrd we love you. Rest in peace. All the Spaces and Places We’ve Been …,” he tweeted February 7th. (Talib Kweli’s Twitter)

Check out Nas’ “New York State of Mind” and Donald Byrd’s “Flight Time”:

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