Hip Hop is mourning the loss of producer Larry Smith, who passed away yesterday (December 19) after years of ailing health due to a stroke he suffered in 2007.
The Queens, New York native was a self-taught bass player who is widely credited for bridging the gap of production sound traits from the first and second generations of Rap, from the late ’70s of Rap’s “Disco Era” to the then-“New School” sounds of the mid-’80s through his work with Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow and Whodini, among others.
His production has been sampled or used for songs by Rap superstars Beastie Boys, Kanye West, Nas, Prodigy, 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, KRS One, Will Smith, De La Soul and Coolio, among others. Some of Larry’s most heralded production is featured on Run-DMC’s first two albums; Whodini’s “Five Minutes of Funk,” “Friends” and “Freaks Come Out At Night”; and Kurtis Blow’s first hit, “Christmas Rappin’.”
In exclusive interviews with HipHopDX, several Hip Hop legends spoke about the importance of Smith’s legacy.
Ralph McDaniels, creator and host of the first and longest running music video show in US history, Video Music Box, discussed why he still uses Whodini’s “Five Minutes of Funk” for the opening theme music of his iconic TV show, which has been airing since 1983.
“People kinda identified with it after awhile,”McDaniels says. “We switched it up at one point, and people were like, ‘Nooo. Just use ‘Five Minutes of Funk.’ As soon as people heard that, it became like a message, a Video Music Box calling card…Even Whodini told me, ‘That song was popular with us because of it being the theme song for Video Music Box. It was popular, but you really made it popular.’ The reason why I liked it was because it just felt epic, like something was about to happen. Larry was one of the top producers of that era. He shaped the sound of what was to be for that particular era, from the late seventies and early eighties to 1983, ‘84, ‘85.”
Added Rap radio pioneer Teddy Tedd of the Awesome 2: “The biggest one [record] that people would identify with is ‘Sucker MC’s.’ [Raps lyrics] ‘Larry drove up in his Cadillac, the chauffeur drove off, and he never came back.’ He’s talking about Larry Smith. His production was so was clean, and this is before sampling. And his records were so crazy. ‘Freaks Come Out At Night’ and stuff like that. He was one of the first super-producers. It’s sad that he’s no longer with us, but he’s now in a better place…Larry used keyboards, and drums and the bass. Other than him, maybe Hurby Luv Bug, I can’t remember any other producer that had their name put out there like that [on record] before Larry.”
Run-DMC also detailed with HipHopDX and on Twitter regarding Smith’s legacy.
“Larry Smith is the probably the greatest Hip Hop producer ever….that most people don’t know about,” DMC says. “He goes unmentioned because Raising Hell and ‘Walk This Way’ receive so much attention. ‘Walk This Way’ was a Rock-Rap remake, ‘Rock Box’ and ‘King Of Rock’ are Rock-Rap originals. No ‘Rock Box,’ no ‘King Of Rock’…no ‘Walk This Way.’ No Larry, no Run-DMC. He’s The King, and I am proud to be crowned by him.”
Rev Run Tweeted about Smith’s work. “Rip to the greatest hip hop producer of all times…. Larry Smith. Produced my biggest and most significant hits..” Rev Run wrote yesterday.
Rip to the greatest hip hop producer of all times…. Larry Smith. Produced my biggest and most significant hits..
— Rev Run (@RevRunWisdom) December 19, 2014