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When Run-D.M.C.’s monumental debut album celebrated it’s thirtieth anniversary earlier this year, many wanted to focus on the album’s staying power and one of the first rap records to legitimize the genre. Few however took the time to look at the sounds which composed the LP, including one of the men behind them in Larry Smith. Before sampling became the norm, Smith worked his SP-1200 into tireless submission, helping create the sounds which would lead the “dean of American Rock Critics” Robert Cristagu to tab Run-D.M.C.’s debut as “the canniest and most formally sustained rap album ever.”

Smith died late Thursday night, his death confirmed by Combat Jack after a conversation with family.

Smith had a helping hand in many early era Def Jam records such as Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” which he played bass. His work with Russell Simmons in co-producing Run-D.M.C. made him an industry big, even if he kept a low profile. His career continued to parlay into future success for others as he was key behind Orange Krush’s “Action” (sampled most notably by Kanye West for “We Major”), Whodini’s “Freak’s Come Out At Night,” Jimmy Spicer’s oft-sampled “Money (Dollar Bill Y’all) “and more.

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels recently told EBONY for an unsung profile on Smith, ”Larry was Rick Rubin before Rick Rubin.”

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