You never really know who your music is going to impact when you introduce it to the world, though if Sunday was any indication, Walter Becker left quite a mark. Artists from all walks of life paid tribute to the fallen co-founder of Steely Dan, acknowledging the legacy of his music in the hours following his passing.
That included a bunch of prominent members of the hip-hop community, even though Steely Dan's influence might not be as easy to see in that genre. The band's work has been turned into hip-hop music before—most notably when Kanye West flipped "Kid Charlemagne" for his song, "Champion," after writing the group a handwritten letter to get the sample cleared—but it would be hard to guess offhand which rappers and producers would hold Becker's work dearest.
Damn. RIP Walter Becker. Def dropping some Steely Dan today. pic.twitter.com/wKho7GcGJf— Cannibal Aux (@atrak) September 3, 2017
RIP Walter Becker. #SteelyDan 🎸— PHAROAHE MONCH (@pharoahemonch) September 3, 2017
rest in peace WALTER BECKER, one half of the team i aspire to everytime I sit down at a piano. thank you for your unparalleled contribution— Mark Ronson (@MarkRonson) September 3, 2017
Walter Becker dying is worse than everything. RIP to one of my real legendary heroes.— Thunder....cat (@Thundercat) September 3, 2017
Damn. About to listen to Steely Dan all day. Thank you Mr. Becker for a lifetime of great music. https://t.co/MXhJqIL66U— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) September 3, 2017
Wow... RIP Walter Becker. 😞— Crime Rhyme Houdini (@JustBlaze) September 3, 2017
Aja & The Royal Scam >>> a lot of folks whole discographies.
They were far from the only artists to pay tribute to Becker, and the most prominent tribute came from his former Steely Dan partner, Donald Fagen. Fagen penned a brief summary of their life and work together, detailing their journey from college buddies to rock stars, and reflected on his singular talent.
He was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.
Fagen promised to keep the spirit of Steely Dan alive as long as he's able to, but if the tributes don't make it clear, it'll be hard to replace what Becker brought to the group, and what he brought to musicians from all over.