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PHOTO ESSAY

In the Beginning: Hip Hop's Early Influences

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Jimmy Castor

Photograph by LaMonte McLemore. Courtesy of Jimmy Castor.

It may seem odd to name the light-hearted saxophonist and disco-funk impresario Jimmy Castor among rap and hip hop's most important influences, but Castor's albums were among the first and most popular tracks sampled by the style's earliest and most significant performers, and his music continues to be sampled regularly by current hip hop superstars. A native of New York City, Castor went from doo wop to the saxophone for a number of top-selling soul-inflected jazz efforts, including 1972's "Troglodyte" and 1988's "Love Makes a Woman" with Joyce Sims. Castor's easy hooks and sample-friendly melodies made him attractive to hip hop artists like DJ Kool Herc, NWA, and many others, who made frequent use of his tunes for their tracks. "It's Just Begun" (1972) and "Troglodyte" were especially popular and oft-used.

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