The Hip-Hop Songs You Didn't Know Were Samples But Really Should


Hip-hop and rap music loves samples. These are some of our favourites.

Hip-Hop's relationship with samples is legendary. From its very conception, the genre has looked to loop sections of other tracks and transform them into some of the biggest and most famous hip-hop songs of all time.

But sometimes its done so well that you don't even realise it's a sample, so sit back and join us as we look at some of the best Hip-Hop samples ever. 

For the best experience, listen to the first track and then check out the sample. 

(Warning: some of these songs contain strong language that some people may find offensive.)

1) Drake - 'Nice For What'

Drake's empowering female anthem was released with a stunning music video starring some of the biggest women in entertainment but did you recognise the mesmerising sample throughout? 

'Nice For What' samples Lauryn Hill's 'Ex-Factor'


2) Future - 'Mask Off'

Future's viral sensation 'Mask Off' became a huge hit in 2017 but some fans might not recognise the origin of the catchy flute that runs throughout...

'Mask Off' samples Tommy Butler's 'Prison Song'

Future Hendrix actually sampled a 1970's civil rights track by playwright Tommy Butler, which was originally written for 'Selma'.

3) Drake - 'Hotline Bling'

Drake's colossal 2015 single caused some controversy in the Hip Hip world for its similarity to DRAM's 'Cha Cha' but few people will recognise the actual sample used throughout. 

'Hotline Bling' samples Timmy Thomas' 'Why Can't We Live Together'

Drizzy actually sampled a 70's soul anthem by singer Timmy Thomas. The catchy melody and bassline on 'Hotline Bling' is all a sample!

4) Kanye West Feat. Rihanna - 'Famous'

Kanye West reignited his long-running feud with Taylor Swift in his controversial song 'Famous' but did you notice the Reggae sample weaved in-between the lyrics?

'Famous' samples Sister Nancy's 'Bam Bam'

Sister Nancy's reggae classic 'Bam Bam' has been sampled in over 50 songs and features prominently throughout Yeezy's track. 

And it also samples Nina Simone's 'Do What You Gotta Do'

5) Rihanna Feat. Drake - 'Work'

Rihanna and Drake's catchy anthem is one of the biggest tracks of 2016 but the sample may be less familiar. 

'Work' samples Richie Stephens & Mikey 2000's 'Sail Away'

The infectious bassline that runs throughout 'Work' is a sample taken from 1998 track 'Sail Away'.

6) Eminem - 'My Name Is'

Released in 1999, the track set the standard for everything that followed from Eminem, introducing the rapper to the mainstream in an emphatic way. But that iconic bassline is actually a sample.

'My Name Is' samples Labi Siffre's 'I Got The...'

The Hammersmith born soft rock star's 'I Got The' has been sampled by both Jay Z and Eminem, but most famously - and to best effect - by the Detroit rapper.

7) Warren G - 'Regulate'

The 1994 song is rap at its finest, but did you know that it takes the majority of its structure from a track by Michael McDonald?

'Regulate' samples Michael McDonald's 'I Keep Forgetting'

If you're not familiar with 'I Keep Forgetting', it was released in 1982. It peaked at number four on the Billboard Pop Singles charts, and number seven on the Billboard R&B chart. The bassline - or rather, THAT - bassline comes thanks to Louis Johnson.

8) Drake Feat. Jay Z - 'Pound Cake'

While we all know Drake's 'Too Much' was based largely around a Sampha loop, you might not know that the 'Nothing Was The Same' track 'Pound Cake' samples Ellie Goulding.

'Pound Cake' samples Ellie Goulding's 'Don't Say A Word'

Yep, that rather ethereal vocal is all the doing of Ellie. The British star admits that she struggled to "play it cool" when she heard Drizzy had looped her vocals for 'Pound Cake'. 

9) Kanye West Feat. Jamie Foxx - 'Gold Digger'

'Gold Digger' is of Kanye's biggest songs and lets be honest, it's no secret that 'Ye loves a sample - or two. But you might not know where this comes from.

'Gold Digger' samples Ray Charles' 'I Got A Woman'

While Kanye's 'Gold Digger' is sped up, as you can hear from Ray Charles' 'I Got A Woman', the original vocal is set much slower on the record, which was released in 1954.

However Ray Charles' 'I Got A Woman' is actually inspired and based largely on a song by The Southern Tones - also released in 1954 - called 'It Must Be Jesus'


10) Kanye West feat. Nicki Minaj & Teyana Taylor - 'Dark Fantasy'

The song kicked off Kanye's now legendary 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' with the vocals of Nicki Minaj. But the song's refrain: "Could we get much higher?" is a direct sample.

'Dark Fantasy' samples Mike Oldfield's 'In High Places'

Originally released in 1987, the pop rock single is very different to Kanye's Hip Hop track, but the vocal will sound very familiar.

11) De La Soul - 'Me Myself And I'

Originally released in 1989, 'Me Myself And I', which consequently is a song title used by everyone from Beyonce to Demi Lovato, is one of the Hip-Hop collective's seminal records. 

'Me Myself And I' samples Funkadelic's '(Not Just) Knee Deep'

Released 10 years earlier in 1979, Funkadelic's track showcases all the structure of De La Soul's version and is a brilliant listen. 

12) Tupac - 'California Love'

Everyone knows the late rapper's West Coast anthem 'California Love'. Released in 1995, the track encapsulates the more mainstream side of Tupac, with its sing-along chorus that glide over the piano-driven instrumental. But where does that beat come from?

'California Love' samples Joe Cocker's 'Woman To Woman'

Another example of Hip-Hop looking to Rock music, 'California Love's structure owes a lot to 'Woman To Woman' by Joe Cocker, which was released in 1972. Gaming fans might also recognise this track from 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas'.

13) The Fugees - 'Ready Or Not'

'Ready Or Not' is a classic, but now you've listened to The Fugees version, this is what the song sounded like in 1968.

'Ready Or Not' samples The Delfonics' 'Ready Or Not Here I Come'

The Fugees turned to the Delfonics 'Ready Or Not Here I Come' for the inspiration to their seminal hit - transforming the soul track, which is a classic in its own right, into something rather spectacular.

And it also samples Enya's 'Boadicea'


14) Dizzee Rascal - 'Fix Up, Look Sharp'

Dizzee's Grime roots were on full show on 'Fix Up, Look Sharp'. The rapper showcased all of his lyrical wit on the second single from his debut album 'Boy In Da Corner', but what about the beat? 

'Fix Up, Up Look Sharp' samples Billy Squier's 'The Big Beat' - one of the most sampled in Hip-Hop history

You might have also heard the beat on Jay Z's '99 Problems' (more on that later) and Alicia Keys' 'Girl On Fire'.

15) Kendrick Lamar - 'Don't Kill My Vibe'

One of the standout tracks from Kendrick's debut album 'good kid, m.A.A.d city', K. Dot looked to Denmark for the mellow looping intro on 'Don't Kill My Vibe'.

'Don't Kill My Vibe' samples Boom Clap Bachelors' 'Tiden Flyver'

As you can hear, the original is pretty chilled out.

16) J. Cole - 'She Knows'

One of the standout tracks from 'Born Sinner', J. Cole sampled the piano and vocal hook from Cults for his hit single 'She Knows'.

'She Knows' samples Cults' 'Bad Things'

The American pop duo will be familiar to any Indie fans, as they were heralded as ones to watch in 2011, following positive reviews from the likes of NME and Pitchfork.

17) Justin Timberlake Feat. Jay Z - 'Suit & Tie'

The lead single from Justin's comeback in 2013, 'Suit & Tie's' famous trumpet intro is actually a sample of a Sho Nuff track. Ironically the song also samples Jay Z's 'Show You How', which featured on his seminal album 'The Blueprint' in 2001.

'Suit & Tie' samples Sho Nuff's 'Sly Slick & Wicked'

Let's just take a second to enjoy this one.

18) Jay Z - '99 Problems'

Watch Jay Z perform live and you'll feel the effect '99 Problems' has on the rapper's audience. It's a call of arms for any Hova fan, but quite a lot of people don't know that Jay took the main lines from an Ice T song of the same name for the track.

'99 Problems' samples Ice T's '99 Problems'

See what we mean?

Mind. Blown.