Keyboardist and composer Chick Corea was a monumental figure in jazz and jazz fusion - an innovator and creative force for decades. He came to prominence in the late ‘60s playing keyboards in Miles Davis’ band, and on Davis' records like In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, Corea helped architect the fusion of rock, funk and jazz that influenced generations of players. Both on his own and with the band Return to Forever, Corea extended that mastery and influence, introducing the world to players like bassist Stanley Clarke, guitarist Al DiMeola and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, all of whom went on to do great things in jazz fusion.
Corea’s work has also found its way into hip-hop, with samples of his songs and solos finding their way into breaks and music beds over which MCs both well known and obscure have rapped. Here are four such tracks built from the work of the great Chick Corea:
Madlib, “FMA Scroll v2”: The high-pitched keyboard lick with which Corea opened “Imp’s Welcome” on his 1976 album The Leprechaun likewise opens (and repeats throughout) this Madlib instrumental, which became an Adult Swim scroll in the early 2000s. It shows off Madlib’s knowledge of esoteric instrumental music and ability to build tracks from disparate sources.
Lupe Fiasco feat. Matthew Santos, “American Terrorist”: Corea’s band Return to Forever’s best-selling album was 1976’s Romantic Warrior, the title track from which factors in this cut from Lupe Fiasco’s 2006 LP Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor. Guitarist Al DiMeola’s crazy-fast flamenco guitar work provides a recurring theme on Fiasco’s declamation of the world’s ills.
Busta Rhymes, “Legend of the Fall Offs”: Corea’s wife, Gayle Moran, took a vocal turn on “Do You Ever,” from Return to Forever’s 1977 LP Musicmagic. Thirty years later, Busta Rhymes used a piece of that as the basis for this hardcore meditation on losing everything.
Eric B. & Rakim, “Move the Crowd”: “Flight of the Newborn” was an Al DiMeola composition, on Return to Forever’s 1975 LP No Mystery, but the funky bass track was all Stanley Clarke. Hip-hop legends Eric B. & Rakim lifted that bass track (and a bit of Corea’s keyboards) for one of their stone-cold classics.