10 essential MLK sampled songs… It’s that day of the year observed to commemorate the memory of one of the most influential characters in the recent times of the evolution of humanity. Martin Luther King, Jr. also known as MLK, a man whose legacy transcends the challenge of time going in a period when our environment sadly remains in prey to discriminations of all sorts. A man who, like Mahatma Gandhi or Sir Winston Churchill, stands among the very rare to have dared saying ‘No’ to what appeared as fatality to many of the contemporaries, paying his beliefs with his life on that sad day of Apr. 4, 1968 which saw him murdered at the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, at the age of 39.
He had a dream which he expressed in a memorable 17 minute + speech that took place 5 years before, as a part of the Washington March on Aug. 28, 1963. A speech regarded as one of the most famous ones in the history of Amercian oratory. A speech that would contribute putting the civil right matters at the top of the agenda of reformers in America and eventually facilitate the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the year after… It’s by no coincidence that Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s universal message would by echoed by many artists from then, as illustrated in our selection thereafter.
Seen by many as the House anthem. Originally released as an instrumental by the likes of Mr Fingers (Larry Heard) on Chicago-based label Trax Records back in 1986. Some DJ’s would start using it as the backing track for the “in the beginning there was Jack” sermon by the likes of Chuck Roberts from Rhythm Controll‘s ‘My House’ in 1987), or for Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s “I Have A Dream” speech, leading to the releases of these mash-ups in 1988/89.
The second cut in order of appearance from Santana‘s 16th studio album, ‘Milagro’ released back in 1992, starting with a sample of Martin’s Luther King, Jr.‘s ‘I Just Want To Do God’s Will’. Quite surprising from a band not particularly renown for embedding other people’s material in their repertoire, with another characteristic of this album being the fact that it happened to be the only studio album not owned by Sony Music Entertainment as of 2010. A song led by Scottish singer, guitarist and drummer Alex Ligertwood who happened to be a regular of the band (1979-1985, 1987, 1989–1991, 1992–1994).
Written by James Brown who recorded it with the original J.B.’s along with Fred Wesley, and released as a three-part single in 1971. One of the most sampled cuts enlightened one of the most famous sax parts in the history of contemporary music to which Maceo (Parker) & The Macks gave their own interpretation 3 years later. Probably also the first production ever to have embedded words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the Clan‘s last album to date – ‘A Better Tomorrow’ – released back in December 2014. A project which has sounded for quite some time like, as people say in French, l’Arlesienne. From the first anouncement of its recording back in June 2011, to its countless postponings because of scheduling problems between its various members and the list goes on. Not to mention their differences of appreciation as to what this album stands for. As a result, the latter received quite mixed reviews, supported by 3 singles (‘Keep Watch’, ‘Ron O’Neal” and ‘Ruckus In B Minor’). The somehow cinematic ‘Never Let Go’ featuring a sample of MLK‘s ‘I Have A Dream’.
A cut which US producer Paul Simpson initially recorded with Candi Staton (‘You Got The Love’) prior deciding to do another version (‘Musical Freedom’) along with Adeva, that would get her under the spotlights right before the release of her solo material. Cleverly built on the juxtaposition of 2 famous samples of both MLK‘s speech and Disco/Funk producer Tony Lee‘s classic ‘Reach Up’…
The final cut of Bobby Womack’s 1984 released ‘The Poet II’ album, enlightened by the presence of luminaries such as Patti LaBelle, George Benson (guitar), Wilton Felder and Fred Wesley (horns) and Michael Wycoff (keyboards) to name but a few . Curiously never released as a single although sounding as the ideal soundtrack of MLK holiday, Bobby Womack‘s interpretation perfectly matching with some excerpts of Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s ‘I Have A Dream’…