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Syl Johnson, a widely respected Chicago blue and soul singer known for being an enormous influence on the hip-hop community, has passed away.  He was 85.

NPR writes bout one of his best-known songs, "As one of the most widely sampled songs in hip-hop, 'Different Strokes' has been borrowed by dozens of artists, including Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Ice Cube, and Kanye West and Jay-Z."

KC's View:

In all honesty, I'd never heard of Syl Johnson before he passed away.

But I was reading an appreciation written by the great Ace Atkins in "Garden & Gun," in which he wrote:

"How did the entire world not know about Johnson? Over the years, his music has provided comfort, pure pleasure, and inspiration. Just last fall, I started outlining a new novel while listening to his debut album, 'Hi, Back for a Taste of Your Love.'

"Grittier, edgier, and more blues-inspired than Al Green, Johnson’s music had a transcendent quality that I couldn’t get enough of. Sadly, unlike a lot of those other soul heroes, I never got to hear the man perform.

"But what a life. What a legacy."

I'd never heard of him.  But I went to iTunes … and started playing his albums, "Dresses Too Short."  "Back For A Taste Of Your Love."  And "Complete Mythology."  And "The Best of Syl Johnson: The Hi Records years."