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Darondo: The Extravagant soul funk singer sampled by Kendrick, Mac Miller, Vic Mensa, and others

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Darondo: The Extravagant soul funk singer sampled by Kendrick, Mac Miller, Vic Mensa, and others

Photo courtesy of HD Nux

Photo courtesy of HD Nux

Photo courtesy of HD Nux

Photo courtesy of HD Nux

August Greenberg, Web Staffer

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William Daron Pulliam is known to diehard soul fans as Darondo–an elusive singer with a distinctly powerful voice. Graham Reid wrote a detailed and comprehensive history of the singer on Elsewhere, after his unfortunate passing in 2013. It seems Darondo has always been a flamboyant figure, attracted by expensive cars and rings, and making business moves to get it. A waitress gave him the nickname ‘Daron-dough’ because of his extravagant tipping habits. He recorded incredible soul funk in the early seventies, but disagreements with his producer led that phase of his life to end relatively quickly. He worked in TV, on cruise ships, and in therapy through the rest of his storied life.
Eventually his music would garner a cult following, bolstered by the general fantasy of his life’s narrative. Certainly he was listening to the dirty, rubbery funk of Sly Stone, and probably Curtis Mayfield’s soaring high tenor vocal range. In addition, despite hailing from San Francisco, his voice had the distinctly southern qualities of an Al Green or a Syl Johnson. This great moment of sound is distilled in the music, which Ubiquity Records got a hold of and released in an album in 2005 and again in 2011. This reinvigorated interest, eventually leading to a feature in a Breaking Bad episode.
While this was happening, hip hop producers who were looking for artists that sounded like Al Green but hadn’t been sampled to death started to come across the Slick Rick-esque character of Darondo.

Darondo’s most immediately ear-grabbing track is “Didn’t I?” a devastating soul ballad straight out of the Philly scene, with lush strings and falsetto vocals. According to WhoSampled.com, the first producer to make use of the track was Plutonic Labs, of the Australian rap duo Muph & Plutonic. He grabbed a chop of “Didn’t I?” at 0:18, also utilizing the soaring vocals later in the track on “Number 45.”

‘Didn’t I’ appeared on tracks by Cy Frye for Troy Ave and the late Mac Miller, as well as the outro from Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise, produced by DJ Dahi. But the song was done full justice by No I.D. on Vic Mensa’s 2017 The Autobiography. The chops are just so precise, cutting through the track and perfectly complementing the Chitown M.C.’s characterful delivery.

“Sure Knew How to Love Me” by Darondo appeared on a 2011 single from Kendrick Lamar, assisted by some classic Detroit Emeralds drums. K. Dot is right at home with the soulful, organic feel of the song.

A track off of Darondo’s Music City Sessions called “Thank You God” was sampled last year on Westside Gunn’s amazing Supreme Blientelle. The Anderson .Paak-assisted joint was put together by 9th Wonder.

Weirdly enough, the first time I could find Darondo ever being sampled was in 1994, by a German hip hop outfit called ‘Ill Styles’. They wind down an energetic track with the intro to “Let My People Go,” the title track of his 2005 Ubiquity release. Credit to these wacky Germans for a deep crate dig and a super sharp ear.

Darondo has lent himself to some great samples over the years, but his distinct personality makes his music easily enjoyable on its own. Although the points of inspiration are clearly identifiable, there is nothing else out there that sounds like Darondo. For any fan of a lost musical legend, his story and music are the absolute jackpot.

https://www.whosampled.com/Darondo/

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Darondo: The Extravagant soul funk singer sampled by Kendrick, Mac Miller, Vic Mensa, and others