What Hip-Hop Owes David Bowie


The Internet has been (rightfully) full of David Bowie tributes in the last week, including a series of pieces about the icon’s influence on hip-hop music.

Noisey traced Bowie’s public admiration for hip-hop, beginning with the 1993 clip of Bowie asking MTV why the network wasn’t featuring black artists that went viral following his death, and leading up to him citing Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly as one of the major influences on the making of Blackstar.

A piece from okayplayer. pinpoints Bowie’s influence on the genre to two iconic changes in sound: that of De La Soul between 1989’s 3 Feet High & Rising and 1991’s De La Soul Is Dead, and of Redman between 1992’s Whut? Thee Album and 1994’s Dare Iz A Darkside.

Many sites compiled all of Bowie’s songs that were sampled by hip-hop hits, with MTV doing one of the more thorough jobs, listing eleven major tracks, from Public Enemy’s “Night of the Living Baseheads” and Puff Daddy’s “Been Around the World” to Ice Cube’s “Alive on Arrival,” Dr Dre’s “Fame,” and Jay Z’s “Takeover.”

Liz Wood is a freelance editor, fiction writer, and current student in the NYU MFA program. More from this author →