Tonight, June 26th, the great Michael McDonald plays Town Hall. An artist whose music has been as emotive as it has been inspirational, his smooth funk has even lent itself to be the centerpiece of some all time hip-hop classics. Given that these classics never go out of style, we’ve combed through the times his work with both The Doobie Brothers and his solo career has been sampled to put together the top five Michael McDonald samples of all time.
See also: Michael McDonald: Mystery White Boy
5) MF Doom
Off of his instrumental Special Herbs collections, MF Doom’s “Mandrake” lifted the catchy core of “What a Fool Believes” from McDonald’s years with The Doobie Brothers. Notable here is Doom’s completely unnecessary but absolutely welcome inclusion of McDonald saying “He came from” sprinkled throughout the song.
4) Philly J featuring Tony Tiger –
“Girl Next Door”
There’s not a whole lot known about Philly J, Tony Tiger or their 1996 single “Girl Next Door,” except that it lifted its keys from The Doobie Brothers’ “Rio” off of McDonalds’ first album with the group Takin’ It To the Streets. The chilled funk of the track, as well as the powerful emotive imagery itself is legitimately Michael McDonald-esqe. We never heard from Philly J again, but in terms of obscure mid-90s singles, it’s a worthy gem worth digging up.
3) Late Night with Conan O’Brien
“Camp Michael McDonald”
One of our favorite bits from the old Late Night with Conan O’Brien was when Conan would use NBC’s powerful satellite to pick up channels most cable providers did not carry. One such channel was “Camp Michael McDonald” that projected footage from a summer camp run by Michael McDonald. McDonald, portrayed perfectly by Delocated‘s Jon Glaser, helps melodically guide his campers as only he can, giving guidance to the tunes of “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “What a Fool Believes.”
2) Meek Mill featuring Drake and Jerimih
It was a surprising transition for Meek Mill to go from the rapidfire high energy “House Party” rapper to the yacht-riding relaxed Maybach Music Group member, but part of the smoothness of that transformation came from the welcome keys of Doobie Brothers’ “Minute By Minute” throughout the Dreams and Nightmares single “Amen.” Meek’s not so much tranquilized here as reigned in, and the energy of the sample allows for enough of a platform to play with his flow in more conventional means.
1) Warren G and Nate Dogg
Of course, this had to be number one. The immortal “Regulate” off the Above the Rim soundtrack, and later the namesake of Warren G’s Regulate…G Funk Era album, owes its smooth G Funk to Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgetting.” While it was later sampled by many hip-hop artists including Jadakiss and Papoose, the Nate Dogg and the G Child will always regulate our number one spot. Mount up.