Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings
This week marks Rush’s first studio album in five years, Clockwork Angels, and it arrives at a unique point in the long-lived Canadian power trio’s career. Having long weathered the slings and arrows of prog-haters outraged by sci-fi concept suites like “2112” and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart’s philosophical musings, Rush has outlasted the naysayers. Not only has their aesthetic been embraced for some time now by everyone from Cartman to Coheed and Cambria, the irresistibly ingratiating 2010 documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage helped endear Peart, Geddy Lee, and Alex Lifeson to those who hardly knew anything of the band beyond “Tom Sawyer” or “Limelight.” In other words, Rush — once the world’s biggest cult band — has somehow become a North American institution. To show just how deeply Rush’s influence has embedded itself into our culture, let’s look to one of the furthest frontiers affected by the arty-but-intense rock & roll realm where Rush reigns supreme, examining five songs built around samples from the band’s kingly catalog.
1. Chespirito, “Los Astronautas”
The first and possibly strangest song to sample a Rush track, this goofy 1976 ditty by famed Mexican comedian/singer Roberto Gomez Bolanos opens with the spacey electronic effects that are found at the beginning of the “2112” suite, which was released mere months earlier.
2. Mellow Man Ace, “Hip Hop Creature”
Speaking of electronic effects, the signature synthesizer swoop that punctuates “Tom Sawyer” is so universally infectious it ended up on tracks by everyone from Ultramagnetic MC’s to El-P, but one of the first to poach “Tom” was the sci-fi-tinged tune “Hip Hop Creature,” a song that introduced West coast rapper Mellow Man Ace to the world, as it’s the opening cut from his 1989 debut album, Escape From Havana.
3. Mickey Factz/Smoke DZA, “The Rush”
Bronx-born mixtape master Mickey Factz was so besotted with the work of Rush that he not only based a Smoke DZA-fronted track around a couple of samples from the band’s fiery instrumental “YYZ,” he even named the tune after the trio.
4. D-Sisive, “The Superbowl is Over”
Canadian rapper Derek Christoff, a.k.a. D-Sisive, flaunts his Canuck homeslice status by digging deeper into the Rush catalog for his sample than just about anyone. He reaches all the way back to 1975’s Caress of Steel deep cut “The Necromancer,” claiming that tune’s ominous spoken-word segment and creepy riff for his own eerie purposes.
5. Proof, “Cali Trip”
The regal riff from Rush’s art-rock epic “Xanadu” might not strike you as sample fodder, but that didn’t stop it from ending up on this posthumously released cut by Detroit rapper and D12 member Proof. One can’t help but wonder how hip-hop history might have been different if Proof’s pal Eminem had picked up on some Rush riffs back in the Slim Shady era.