“I have aspirations to be Marvin Gaye in the back of my head.” Drake said those words in an interview with MTV back in September, once again establishing that his musical ambitions can’t be contained to the rap world. In June, the Canadian rapper/singer revealed to GQ that his then in production new album would be heavily influenced by Gaye’s 1978 record Here, My Dear, a wounded and emotionally draining collection of songs about a fractured relationship. Now that Drake’s record, Nothing Was The Same, is here, audiences and critics are free to assess whether his comparison was justified, but the larger question remains: Why is Here, My Dear still such a relevant record?
While Here, My Dear doesn’t have the same canonical status of other Gaye records like What’s Going On? and Let’s Get It On, it has a strong reputation as an insular, dark and proudly weird album, an uncompromising record made by an artist in turmoil. With its combination of soul, jazz and disco, it’s an R&B album that refuses to play by the rules of a particular style, something a genre-blending artist like Drake would be drawn to. And Drake’s not the only one: Former G-Unit rapper Young Buck recently released “Rage,” his first new song since serving an 18-month prison sentence, and it samples Here, My Dear stand-out “Anger.”
But Drake and Young Buck are hardly the first hip-hop artists to draw from the album’s smoky, eccentric aesthetic. Like many other Gaye records, the album has been a steady source of inspiration for crate-digging producers and rappers with an ear for adventurous sounds. To dig deeper into Marvin Gaye’s profound impact on hip-hop, XXL has selected 12 songs that sample Gaye’s Here, My Dear. Pour yourself a glass of wine, stop texting your ex and join us as we take a look at the album’s enduring (and growing) hip-hop legacy. –Dan Jackson