This week, the musical world lost an icon when composer, arranger and producer David Axelrod died on Sunday (Feb. 5) at the age of 83 from complications of a brain aneurysm. Although not a well-known fixture to casual fans in the hip-hop world, die-hard beat junkies are well aware of Axelrod's influence and impact on the culture. His own music has been used by some of the greatest rap producers of all-time and become embedded in some of rap's most timeless records.

Getting his start as a staff producer for record companies specializing in jazz in the late 1950s, Axelrod produced his first album, saxophonist Harold Land’s The Fox, in 1959, but would experience greater success through his work with Lou Rawls after joining Capitol Records as a producer and A&R. Producing hit singles like "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing," "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)" and "Dead End Street," Axelrod's talents would be in demand throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but his career would begin to falter during the 1980s, with the producer recording three solo albums that would go unreleased due to the changing tide of the music industry and the direction of its sound.

However, the producer's catalog would begin to become a playground for rap producers during the early 1990s. Everyone from Da Beatminerz to Swizz Beatz has mined the legend's compositions to lift drum loops and other wrinkles to create their own lush soundscapes. In celebration of David Axelrod's legacy, we've dug up 10 of the more notable rap songs that feature samples of his music that are essential listens for any fan of rap.

  • 1

    "I Am I Be"

    De La Soul

    De La Soul's "I Am I Be" samples Lou Rawls' "You've Made Me So Very Happy," which was produced by David Axelrod.

  • 2


    Mos Def

    Mos Def's "Hip-Hop" samples David Axelrod's "The Warning Talk (Part II)."

  • 3

    "Take Em to War"

    Kool G Rap Featuring B1 and MF Grimm

    Kool G Rap's "Take Em to War" samples David Axelrod's "A Divine Image."

  • 4

    "Hit Me With That"

    The Beatnuts

    The Beatnuts' "Hit Me With That" samples David Axelrod's "Holy Thursday."

  • 5

    "Any Man"


    Eminem's "Any Man" samples David Axelrod's "The Mental Traveler."

  • 6

    "Stay True"

    Ghostface Killah Featuring 60 Second Assassin

    Ghostface Killa's "Stay True" samples David Axelrod's "Terri's Tune."

  • 7

    "What's Ya Poison"

    Mobb Deep Featuring Cormega

    Mobb Deep's "What's Ya Poison" samples David Axelrod's "1000 Rads."

  • 8

    "Strange Fruit"

    Pete Rock Featuring Tragedy Khadafi, Cappadonna, Sticky Fingaz

    Pete Rock's "Strange Fruit" samples David Axelrod's "The Smile."

  • 9

    "Dr. Carter"

    Lil Wayne

    Lil Wayne's "Dr. Carter" samples David Axelrod's "Holy Thursday."

  • 10


    Schoolboy Q

    Schoolboy Q's "Cycle" samples David Axelrod's "The Warnings (Part 1)."

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