David Axelrod dead: Influential composer and producer sampled by Dr Dre and DJ Shadow dies aged 83

'He WAS hip hop'

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 06 February 2017 16:17

David Axelrod, the legendary composer and producer who inspired generations of hip hop artists, has reportedly died aged 83.

DJ Shadow, a friend of Axelrod who sampled his work, confirmed his death on Twitter on Sunday evening. No cause of death was given.

Axelrod's music was sampled by giants of hip hop through generations - from Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's 'The Next Episode' to Ghostface Killah's 'Stay True' and UNKLE's 'Rabbit in Your Headlights' - and had a profound effect on artists of all genres.

Born in Los Angeles in 1933, he produced his first album in '59 and went on to work in production and A&R at Capitol Records in the 1960s, producing several of his own records.

He was praised for his innovative fusion of elements of jazz, rock and R&B, and for encouraging Capitol to develop their black artists.

He collaborated with the Electric Prunes on their '68 album Mass in #F Minor in '68, then resurfaced during the 90s when the likes of DJ Shadow, Lil Wayne, Dr Dre, Lauryn Hill and Wu-Tang Clan sampled his work.

Members of the hip hop community have paid tribute to Axelrod on social media.

DJ Shadow tweeted: "I'll never forget meeting him for the first time in 1998. We asked him to do a remix for 'Rabbit In Your Headlights' off the UNKLE album.

"David could be incredibly intimidating and he did not suffer fools... but if he liked and respected you, he was the most loyal friend on Earth. So honoured to have known you David, you are a bonafide hero to an entire generation of hip hop kids and musical dreamers."

Questlove wrote on Instagram: "So sad to hear about the passing of musician/composer #DavidAxelrod. He was so immersed in creativity and so pure with his arrangements he WAS hip hop.

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"And [he] understood and appreciated hip hop culture (most cats would get guarded about time moving on and easily take the 'NO!!!!!!!' disposition if they aren't informed. David embraced and often reached out to producers and beatmakers for cool callabos).

"[His] appreciation for music and his ability to recognise musicianship is what I'll take from him."

Axelrod's final studio album was a self-titled LP of decades-old, unheard Axelrod tracks, released on the Mo'Wax label in 2001.

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