‘My son was like: what?! Mum!’ Norma Winstone, the British jazz singer being sampled by Drake

After growing up poor in east London, Winstone became one of the UK’s most adventurous jazz performers – and is now unexpectedly on a huge rap hit

A song that has had 94m plays on Spotify since its October release begins with 64 seconds of cosmic, atmospheric music. Over a burbling analogue synthesiser and occasional ornamentation from piano and trumpet, we hear a soft, female voice narrating a journey: “Travelling forever in the dark / Darkness into blackness.”

This sample from Azimuth’s 1977 album track The Tunnel is followed by Drake and Yeat rapping on IDGAF, the second most played track from Drake’s UK/US No 1 album, For All the Dogs (“Fuck the bitch, I make her sweat”, is the beginning of their less ethereal intrusion). “I’d heard of Drake, but his wasn’t ever the kind of music I’d listen to,” says jazz vocalist and lyricist Norma Winstone, now 82, in her spare room in Deal, Kent, reflecting on her old group’s inclusion on one of 2023’s biggest rap LPs one autumn afternoon.

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