Issac Hayes: A Godfather of Rap

3 min readApr 18, 2019


Disclaimer: I say “a” Godfather instead of The Godfather , because there are several artists that helped shape the sound of rap, such as the Isley Brothers, James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament, etc.

As a 90's baby, the main song that my generation may know by Issac Hayes is the “Shaft” Theme song.

What may not be known is how Issac Hayes’s musical creativity helped birth a “sound” of rap that is still being played to this day. Many of the greatest rappers of all time, Tupac, Biggie, Jay-Z, etc have sampled him.

As recent as 2017 Kodak Black’s song “Transportin” was a hit.

Transportin” sounds familiar because the legendary group, the Geto Boys, used the same sample first with their classic 1991 song “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me”, which was one of the first rap songs to touch upon suicide and anxiety.

If you retrace the steps of musical production, Issac Hayes was the mastermind behind those two raps songs, because they were sampled from his song, “Hung up on my baby”(1974). The sounds of the guitar are simply mezmorizing.

Another classic song that Issac Hayes helped influence was the song by the Notorious BIG, “Warning” , which detailed the paranoia of being a drug king pin, while knowing that people were trying to plot your demise.

The part that Biggie used for “ Warning” comes in at around 1 minute and 3 seconds/ 1:03.

“Walk On By” (1969)



Jay -Z’s song “Can I Live”, sampled Issac Hayes song, “The Look of Love”(1970)

Issac Hayes‘s influence also expands to the west coast. The legendary rappers DJ Quik, The Game, Ice-Cube and Dr. Dre sampled him.

(1969) Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic

DJ Quick (1991) Born and Raised in Compton

The Game, “The Remedy” (2006)

Ice Cube (1991) “I Gotta Say What Up”

Dr. Dre’s song “Stranded on Deathrow” (1992) sampled a live version of Issac Haye’s song “Do Your Thing”.

Note: The live version of the Issac Hayes sample was not able to be located on the web.

Tupac Shakur’s (1995) “Me Against The World” from Issac Hayes’s song, “Walk On By” which was mentioned earlier.

Fast Facts About Issac Hayes: He was born in Tennessee in August 20, 1942.

He grew up poor in Tennessee, in which he had to pick cotton at as young as 5 years old to help his family.

In 1972 he became the first black composer to receive an Oscar when he did the theme for the 1971 movie Shaft. He also won two Grammys for that as well.

In 2005 he was inducted into the “Rock in Roll Hall of Fame”

Issac Hayes played the voice of the character Chef on The Show South Park from 1997 — 2006.

On August 10, 2008 at the age of 65 Issac Hayes passed away from a stroke.

Honorable Mentions: Wu Tang Clan’s (2000) “I Can’t Go To Sleep” sampled Issac Haye’s song “Walk on By”, Public Enemy’s song “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” sampled Isaac Hayes’s song, “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic”.