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Last week, the news that Andre 3000 would be releasing an album of instrumental flute jams was greeted with a reception that brought blood to the brim. But don’t tell that to Jake Fridakis, who plays principal flute in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. If you’ve heard DJ Khaled and Drake’s “No Secret” or Roddy Ricch and Ty Dolla Sign’s “LLF,” you’ve also heard their instrumentals woven into the fabric of those tracks. “It’s gotten to the point now where people are saying, ‘The flute is the new instrument in rap,'” says Fridakis. “Okay, check up on your history a little, because we’ve been there.”
Rock has guitar solos; Now it seems like flute is in hip-hop. Over the past decade, the instrument – played live or sampled – has featured on Future’s “Mask Off”, DaBaby’s “Bop”, 21 Savage’s “X”, Young Thug’s “Hot”, A$AP Rocky’s Has made its way into “Praise the Lord”. Tyler, the Creator and Lil Wayne’s “Hot Wind Blows” and Gucci Mane and Drake’s “Both”, among others. And Lizzo, of course, has made the connection between the flute and modern pop and hip-hop even more obvious: she not only includes the woodwind on some of her records, but also plays it herself, including Dolly Parton. Records are also included. Rock Star Album version of “Stairway to Heaven”.
“It’s not that surprising,” says WM artist Gareth MacLaren. S. Haynes Flute Company, one of the world’s leading flute manufacturers. “Flute sounds come in many different styles.” The company, which was founded in 1888, claims its sales have increased 30 percent over the past three years thanks to prominent flute players like Lizzo.
Yet, who would have guessed that hip-hop would continue one of the most unpredictable traditions in pop? Instruments like the Mellotron, Moog synthesizer, or electronic synths have come and gone, but it appears that the flute is forever. Nearly 60 years ago, flute solos appeared in the Beatles’ “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” The Moody Blues (whose Ray Thomas played it prominently), Genesis (see tracks like the Peter Gabriel-era “Dusk”), King Crimson (“I Talk to the Wind”), and, perhaps most famously, Jethro Tull, whose Ian Anderson frantically performed his woodwind instrument on songs like “Thick as a Brick” while wearing a codpiece. (No easy feat.)
As the years passed, the flute found its way into disco (Van McCoy’s “The Hustle”), Southern-fried rock (including various Marshall Tucker Band songs, “Can’t You See”), early yacht rock (Firefall . “You’re the Woman”), and Australian pop (“Down Under” by Men at Work). And let’s hear Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” Eric Burdon and the War’s “Spill the Wine,” Traffic’s “John Barleycorn (Must Die),” Canned Head’s “Going Up the Country,” Aretha Franklin’s “Until You Come Back ” Don’t forget the singles. I (That’s What I’m Gonna Do),” and Chicago’s “Color My World.”
Jethro Tull’s Anderson says he initially wanted to be a guitar player, but changed after hearing Eric Clapton with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. “He was way ahead of everyone else, including me,” Anderson explains. Rolling stone, “I thought, ‘Maybe I should leave my guitar behind and find something else to play, preferably an instrument that Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton can’t play.'” Anderson says he set his sights on a local music store. He fell upon the flute hanging on the wall and traded his sixties Fender Stratocaster for a $30 student model. “Someone told me it would be a bit like blowing on the top of a beer bottle and you get a note. So I figured it out and managed to get a note out of the flute, and then I had the pentatonic scale and I could throw in the flattened fifth and play the blues.
Although by the time Anderson purchased it, other programs such as The Moody Blues and Traffic were using the equipment on stage, he acknowledged that the switch also involved a period of adjustment. Anderson says, “The reality of the flute is that it was somewhat exotic and alien and there was nothing that could match the obvious power of the electric guitar.” “The audience response was immediate and approving. But one of our managers didn’t like it and tried to advise me not to play the flute. “Maybe I should take a seat at, as he said, ‘the rhythm piano.'” Anderson says sarcastically, “I thanked him for his useful managerial input and stood in the front and continued playing the flute.”
Fast forward a decade or two and flute samples began to infiltrate hip-hop. He is featured on Snoop Dogg’s “Tha Shiznit” (taken from Billy Joel’s “Get It Right the First Time”), the Beastie Boys’ “Flute Loop” (taken from the Blues Project jazz-rock-everything jam “Flute Thing”) Was heard. A Tribe Called Quest’s “Keep It Rollin'” (its flute courtesy of Roy Ayers’s “Feels Like Making Love”), and Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin'” (originally a woodwind part in the soundtrack of the 1960 film ) Fata Ahlami which gave rise to a lawsuit).
Anderson, who thinks that some of his equipment has been sampled from time to time, cannot understand why it has become so prominent in the genre. “Some of us can play and some will have to model,” he says dryly. “Maybe they like it because it’s an instrument associated with classical music and is quite sophisticated musically, and so making it more musically original might seem like a fun thing to do.”
Fridakis has his own theory about how an instrument known for its harmonic beauty fits in with the hard-hitting hip-hop track. “I think it’s kind of closer to the human voice,” he says. “It gives that sparkle. Maybe it’s the yin and yang.
Although it may seem strange for a classically trained musician to become a hip-hop flautist, Fridkis was immersed in East Coast rap while growing up in New Jersey. After starting his orchestral career, he recorded an instrumental version of a Jay-Z track and sent it to producers. People took notice. His first appearance was on British drill artist Mastermind’s “Crash It”, and through working with Grammy-nominated producer Rex Kudo, his flute made its way onto the track that ended up featuring Khalid and others. (Thanks to technology, he never met any of those artists: “All my friends say, ‘You met Drake?’ I say, ‘Calm down.’)
In his world, Fridakis has seen nothing but praise for Lizzo (“she’s an icon in the classical community”) as well as anticipation of Andre 3000. new blue sun, “I always joked to my friends, ‘I’m going to make a hip-hop flute album,'” says Fridakis. “I guess it wasn’t a joke.”