January 24, 2022

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James Mtume, Whose ‘Juicy Fruit’ Turned a Hip-Hop Beat, Dies at 76

James Mtume, Whose ‘Juicy Fruit’ Became a Hip-Hop Beat, Dies at 76

Between manufacturing jobs, Mr. Mtume and Mr. Lucas recorded with their core musicians because the group Mtume, which featured the singer Tawatha Agee. Mr. Mtume described the group’s first albums as “sophistifunk,” utilizing plush harmonies and elaborate orchestrations.

However in the future, Mr. Mtume recalled, he realized that “I used to be taking part in one thing that sounded identical to one thing else I had achieved. I acquired up and I walked away, and I disbanded the band, and I made a decision to not do any extra productions.”

He put collectively a second lineup of Mtume, with out Mr. Lucas, and turned to a mode he described as “neo-minimalism,” utilizing only a handful of devices and fewer results. The brand new Mtume lineup recorded “Juicy Fruit.” At first, Mtume’s file label, Epic, dismissed the tune as too gradual for daytime radio, but it surely grew to become a No. 1 R&B hit.

The title tune of Mtume’s 1984 album, “You, Me and He” — a confession of polyamory — reached No. 2 on Billboard’s R&B chart. On the group’s closing album, “Theater of the Thoughts,” launched in 1986, Mtume turned to sociopolitical commentary in songs like “Deep Freeze (Rap-a-Song) (Part 1).” That very same 12 months, Mr. Mtume wrote the rating for the movie “Native Son” and produced a solo album for Ms. Agee.

In a radio interview in 1988, throughout a freewheeling period of hip-hop when samples had been extensively used with out cost or credit score, Mr. Mtume denounced hip-hop’s reliance on sampling, calling it “Memorex music” and complaining that the originators had been ignored. The hip-hop group Stetsasonic responded with “Talkin’ All That Jazz,” which argued, “Rap brings again outdated R&B/And if we’d not, individuals might’ve forgot.”

Ultimately, sampling — by then licensed and credited — would preserve Mr. Mtume’s music on the radio. “Juicy Fruit” has been sampled by Alicia Keys, Warren G, Jennifer Lopez, Keyshia Cole, Religion Evans and dozens of others, and plenty of of Mr. Mtume’s different songs and productions have made their method onto new tracks.

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