September 11, 2001 will alway be imbedded in our collective psyches for obvious reasons that I won't go into detail here. I have been away from my Sample Sunday series for a good while now, and today, being a historic day, is as good a time as any to reacquaint myself with my Wisdom Seeker family.
From a musical and hip hop standpoint, the album that is connected to that moment in time is The Blueprint, released on that fateful day to an unsuspecting audience. The Blueprint has been noted as a classic in the stellar catalogue of Mr. Shawn Carter, because of the deep use of soul samples by relatively unknown beat miners Just Blaze and Kanye West. One of the standouts on this album is a slept-on cut, "Never Change". This Kanye West-produced track fits the mold perfectly for The Blueprint, because it gives space for Jay-Z to opine about his struggles and subsequent rise with Roc-A-Fella.
The source for this mid-tempo Kanye production is a 1973 song from the incomparable David Ruffin. From his self-titled album David Ruffin you have "Common Man", a song that could very well be identified with the average cat living in 2011. David Ruffin, from The Temptations fame, used his rich, rough, yet melodic voice to weave the fabric that is the common man, hence the song title. At forty seconds into the Ruffin composition, which was produced in conjuction with Bobby Miller, the portion that would provide the sonic bed for Jay-Z's "Never Change" was laid. "Common Man" was one of quite a few Ruffin tunes where you could hear the pain and angst that symbolized his artistry. This, and other songs of a similar ilk, are the types of songs that fit into the comfortable, soulful mold of 70's music. Take a listen to "Common Man" below.
Ruffin did not reach his full potential, dying from an apparent drug overdose in 1991. His music will live on forever, and Kanye digging through the crates for "Never Change" allows the Ruffin brand to be recognized forever.
Today, Jay-Z and Kanye continue to mine the soul library, most recently on this huge Otis Redding celebratory joint "Otis", which is bringing a whole new audience to that chapter in time when Otis Redding could do no wrong. Hip hop is still able to entertain and bridge gaps, and for that I am grateful. Hopefully, with 9/11 upon us, we can all reflect, while all the while bridge gaps amongst the masses. God bless to all that have been affected, directly or otherwise, by the tragedy that was September 11, 2001. This is a day that will live in infamy, and serve as a true "blueprint" for living from that day into the future.