Isaac Hayes was a musical genius. Chances are if you check the credits you will find your favorite artist has rhymed over a Hayes assisted beat creation at one point or another. So selecting a small portion of Black Moses’ extensive catalogue that’s been sampled by Hip-Hop artists and labeling it “best” is a fool’s errand. No matter, here are eight of our favorites along with some words from Scarface and Chuck D speaking on the late musician’s genius. Heaven just got a lot more soulful. RIP.“Theme From Shaft” from Shaft Soundtrack (Stax, 1971)Doesn’t matter how many people sampled it when or how well, “Theme from Shaft” is a masterpiece well enough left alone. The crispy instrumentation, that absolutely sick wah wah guitar, the “Can you dig it?”; this was the original playa’s anthem. Yeah, it won Hayes an Oscar in 1971, but Black Moses’ lore was already legend without the approval of any academy.
Do Your Thing from Shaft Soundtrack (Enterprise/Stax, 1971)
Do Your Thing – Isaac HayesBack in ’88 the debate was Kane or The R (no disrespect to Kool G. Rap). The Mary Jane Girls didn’t get all the sample clearance shine as the regal horns heard on Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing” (another gem from the Shaft Soundtrack) got melded by Marley Marl into the backdrop for Kane’s party friendly by lyrically ferocious to the core mic persona.
Big Daddy Kane “Smooth Operator”
“Walk On By” from Hot Buttered Soul (Enterprise/Stax, 1969)
Walk On By – Isaac HayesThe Bar-Kays were Hayes’ rhythm section and they go absolutely buckwild on the latter portion of this 12 minute long opus. This is a groove that moves. It has been used by a multitude of artists (MF Doom, Pete Rock, Tupac, et. al) but The Notorious B.I.G. did it much justice, no easy feat. Wu-Tang Clan also got busy to it on “Can’t Go to Sleep,” enlisting Hayes himself on the song. The original was also featured prominently in the film Dead Presidents.
Notorious B.I.G. “Warning”
Wu-Tang Clan f/ Isaac Hayes “Can’t Go to Sleep
“Hyperbolicsyllabicseequedalymystic” from Hot Buttered Soul (Enterprise/Stax, 1969)From the same landmark, only four track long album “Walk On By” appears on (note to would be artists; sometimes less is a lot more) the Bomb Squad seriously dug in the crates because those eerie pianos they lifted for Public Enemies “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaso” don’t appear until deep into this winding song.
Public Enemy “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos”
“Isaac Hayes was my music godfather. We had a great relationship and he mentored me as he did others about the business and life itself. Before I had even met him Black Moses symbolically exuded a Black Pride Movement, as Mr James Brown did with Black Soul Power. I traveled to Ghana Africa for the first time in 1992 witnessing him being [made] a Chief. I picked his brain often as a songwriting god, and guide while over there. We as Public Enemy opened up for him in Africa and marveled at his talents.
He co-produced the song But Can You Kill The N##### In You on my solo MISTACHUCK project in 1996, as I gladly had the pleasure of rapping on his BRANDED album a year later or so. He surprised me often, appearing to present me with awards, rather than me the other way around. Whenever he called I tried to be there at his and other STAX events. I won’t forget when he and David Porter pulled me to the side during a STAX Memphis Reunion and both said that I was an official ‘SOUL MAN’ …for me nothing else could be better. R.I.P. Godfather. R.I.P. Black Moses.'” -Chuck D
“A Few More Kisses to Go” from Don’t Let Go (Polydor, 1979)E-Sermon basically jacked this loop wholesale for Redman’s classic “Tonight’s Da Night.” No need to tamper with it too much as Reggie Noble has a blast over those mystifying strings and bright horns.
Redman “Tonight’s Da Night”
“Hung Up On My Baby” from Tough Guys (Enterprise/Stax, 1974)
Hung Up On My Baby – Isaac HayesScarface took this groove and freaked it for the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.” The album it comes from is a soundtrack cut from a little know film called Tough Guys. Check Face’s insight below…
Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”
“I knew Isaac Hayes personally. I actually got a chance to go in the studio with Isaac Hayes. He don’t read music, he just play what he feel. That man had a hell of a vibe man. That song I remade, the “My Minds Playing Tricks On Me,” that’s a song called “Hung Up on My Baby.” I sampled it, I thought it was a hell of a groove. That was originally my solo song. I wrote three verses, then Bill took my last verse and Willie D wrote his verse to it. I can believe this s**t dude. I did that beat. I been f**king with Isaac Hayes forever…Black Moses. I grew up in a music household so that’s all we had. Man to lose Isaac Hayes…Donny Hathaway, Isaac Hayes, Luther Vandross, we had some badass musicians, Jimi Hendrix… I think that music is just as dead as Hip-Hop is, period. When Isaac Hayes, and the Commodores and Marvin Gaye, when they was doing they s**t, that was music man. We just fiddling around with this s**t now. When I see that phrase, ‘Save the Music,’ I take this s**t real personal man. To lose Isaac Hayes that threw me for a f**king loop.” -Scarface“The Look Of Love” from …To Be Continued (Enterprise/Stax, 1970)
The Look Of Love – Isaac HayesThis tune is Hayes’ cover of another Burt Bacharach tune. Who? Find out. He wrote “Walk On By” too. Jigga used this melancholy rhythm, sampled here by one Irv Gotti, to caress his bars on “Can I Live” off of his Reasonable Doubt debut.
“Bumpy’s Lament” from Shaft Soundtrack (Stax, 1971)
Bumpys Lament – Isaac HayesOkay, last one from the Shaft Soundtrack, I swear. But it really is just that good. Back when rappers made good songs for soundtracks, Mobb Deep dropped “Back at You” which was from the Sunset Park soundtrack. The Q-Boro brethren cranked up these supple chords from “Bumpy’s Lament” to drop some of their dun language all over it.
Mobb Deep “Back At You”