September 2020 Sample Platter

Sampling is the recontextualization of a preexisting work in a new composition. While this practice is utilized across genres, it has become a cornerstone of the hip-hop tradition. Since its inception, producers have been sampling soul records, funk records, world music and even cartoons to create head-bobbing beats. Drawing from numerous styles and time periods, here is a sample platter of some of the spiciest samples in hip-hop music!

  1. Late Nights & Heartbreak by Hannah Williams & the Affirmations: Courtesy of producer No I.D., this song was sampled in the titular track of Jay-Z’s 4:44. It’s the perfect backdrop for Jay-Z’s intimate confession of infidelity in his relationship with Beyoncé.

  2. Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding: This soul ballad is wonderfully composed – it slowly builds in tempo, volume and urgency, and ends with Otis showing off his chops in a fiery finish. His vocal riffs were chopped up by Kanye West to create “Otis”, which features one of my favorite beats of all time.

  3. Bam Bam by Sister Nancy: Hailed as a Jamaican dancehall classic, this song is perhaps the most frequently sampled song in all of popular music. It has been recontextualized more than a hundred times by the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Lauryn Hill. Read the full story here!

  4. Why Can’t We Live Together by Timmy Thomas: If you were around in 2015 and 2016, you’ll remember how inescapable Drake’s “Hotline Bling” was. The song was everywhere, and for good reason – it’s an earworm. The bossa nova-style groove comes from Timmy Thomas’ 1972 track Why Can’t Live Together.

  5. One Step Ahead by Aretha Franklin: Ayatollah chopped up this soul classic to create the beat for “Ms. Fat Booty” by Mos Def.

  6. Whores in this House by DJ Frank Ski: Based on the title alone, I’m sure you can guess which song this was sampled in. That’s right – the iconic vocal line appears in Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP”, aka Ben Shapiro’s favorite song.

  7. Pots ‘N’ Pans by Anthony King and John Matthews: An obscure early electronic song sampled by Don Cannon in Pusha T’s “Numbers on the Boards”. The result is one of the most head-bobbing hip-hop tracks in recent memory.

  8. What Will Santa Claus Say? (When He Finds Everybody Swingin’) by Louis Prima: This Christmas tune was sampled in Kanye and Kid Cudi’s 2018 project Kids See Ghosts. “4th Dimension” is now a contender for my favorite holiday song.

I hope this sample platter has given you an eclectic taste of hip-hop source material. What are some of your favorite samples?

– DJ Mango