Hip-hop’s Frequently Sampled Soul Singer And Legend, Syl Johnson, Dead At 85

Legendary soul and blues singer from Chicago, Syl Johnson, whose work is and has been frequently sampled in hip-hop, has passed on at an old age of 85, his family announced on Sunday. Johnson’s career kicked off in the 1960s and ’70s under the Chicago label, Twinight, for which he released his music at the time.

Johnson’s hit single, “Different Strokes,” off his 1968 debút album, “Dresses  Too Short”, has now been sampled by a good number of hip-hop artists including Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Ice Cube, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. The website, WhoSampled, has come to discover that over 300 songs have used portions of the said track.

In a statement provided to Pitchfork, his surviving family said, “It is with extreme sadness that our family announces the passing of Soul & Blues Hall of Fame Legend, Syl Johnson (born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, MS). Dad, Brother, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Uncle, Friend & Artist, he lived his life as a singer, musician, and entrepreneur who loved black music.”

“He will truly be missed by all who crossed his path,” the statement continued. “His catalog and legacy will be remembered as impeccable and a historical blueprint to all who experience it. To his fans around the world, he loved you all. A lover of music and a Chicago icon, Syl Johnson lived his life unapologetically.” Hit the link below to cop a feel of what “Different Strokes” sounds like:


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