If It’s Up, Then It’s Up, Then It’s Up, Then It’s Flute?
A couple of weeks ago, my social media DMs blew up with shared videos of SNL’s Weird Little Flute skit featuring Kid Cudi. My flute colleagues proudly posted the video on their Facebook with the message “We are now mainstream!”
With hits such as Future’s Mask Off, Lizzo’s Juice, and Drake’s Portland, listeners of hip hop are taking notice of uptick in the flute loops in hip hop production. However, the flute has always been a part of rap throughout its history. Hip Hop is often understood as a “pastiche” – a form of music made from other music. As a genre, Hip hop is known for sampling from diverse musical genres including funk, rock & roll, R&B, and jazz. So how does the flute fit within this musical pastiche?
The flute is the closest instrument to the human voice because it uses nothing but the breath of the human players – it doesn’t have a reed, mouthpiece, or anything intervening between the breath that the player blows and the sound that the instrument produces. The instrument has an innate capability to change it’s timbre (sound) from a loud edgy brassy sound, to a mellow wood. Since the flute is closely related to the human voice, it makes perfectly sense to meld it into a genre that is so heavily reliant on the vocal flow (rhythm and rhyme) of the Emcee/rapper.
I hope you enjoy my rendition of Beastie Boys’ Flute Loops. In the song, the Beastie Boys sample a loop of the ‘Badinerie” from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor. I added my own flair of flute beatboxing to mimic the percussive rhythmic flow of Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Addam “MCA” Yauch and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz. Enjoy here!