Chipmunk soul is a hip hop production style pioneered by Just Blaze and Kanye West around the dawn of the 2000s decade that featured sped-up Soul samples for the hook of the songs. Some early usage of the technique can be heard in songs like Wu-Tang Clan's "For Heavens Sake" and Mos Def's "Ms. Fat Booty" (produced by Ayatollah), however the genre really came to form with Just Blaze and Kanye West working on a select few songs on Jay-Z's The Dynasty and most importantly 2001's The Blueprint. This new sound ushered East Coast Hip Hop into a new era of post-Boom Bap following Bad Boy Records' glossy sound and the more electronic approach of Swizz Beatz for Ruff Ryders.
Kanye West and Just Blaze both used a distinctive drum palette sound that would also define the genre, giving a slick street soulful sound rather than the raw stripped down sound of boom bap. Shortly following the success of Jay-Z's Blueprint came The Heatmakerz (the in-house producers for The Diplomats) who became one of the genre's leading producers, specifically with the album Diplomatic Immunity. Around the same time Kanye West released his first solo single "Through the Wire" which is one of the defining songs of the genre with its sped-up loops of Chaka Khan's vocals in "Through the Fire" as the entire hook for the song. His debut album The College Dropout was a massive success and the genre's most popular album.
The term Chipmunk Soul was coined by ?uestlove in reference to The Chipmunks who used modified pitched-up vocals to have squeaky voices. While the majority of the samples are from soul music, it was not uncommon to sample from other genres such as AOR (Starship's "We Built This City" on "Built This City") or Reggae (Max Romeo's "Chase the Devil" on Jay-Z's "Lucifer").
The genre remained a dominant force in mainstream hip hop music for the first half of the decade and spawned many imitators and followers, eventually being replaced by various styles of southern hip hop near the end of the decade. By 2007 Kanye West had moved forward to a different sound with his Graduation album and that was nearly the end for chipmunk soul. .