CLAY’SMIND: I Took All The Samples

A common critique of hip-hop, modern beats, and pop music is that the production methods replace any need for real musical talent, especially when it comes to a technique known as sampling. Sampling is a method used in music whereby a composer borrows part of another composition to use in their own song. Sampling originated in the 1940s when Pierre Schaeffer began using tape machines to splice and manipulate pre-recorded music in extreme ways; his style and techniques caught on with other composers and their work eventually formed a new genre. The machine was called the musique concrète.

The concept of sampling is now a popular musical standard in modern music, especially in hip-hop. Breakdancing paved the way for the birth of hip-hop. The name was created and then  popularized in the 1980s because it drew on the repetition of addictive drum breaks (short samples of drum breakdowns) from the 1970s. The most sampled drum break of all music history is called the “Amen Break” which is from the song “Amen Brother by The Winstons (the earliest use of this break was in the rap song “Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.). I could go on for hours about the history of samples, but as you go through this post, I’m going to share some of my favorites.

What brought me to this topic was a recent listen to Kanye West’s The College Dropout, in preparation for his newest studio album Jesus is King. I really loved the use of his soul samples in most of his discography, and it’s kind of like a staple to Kanye’s production. So here are my favorite uses of not just Kanye’s samples, but my favorite music in general.

ALBUM: good kid, mA.A.d city

ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar
Sample: “Boom Clap Bachelors” by Tiden Flyver
Song: “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
What’s Sampled: Guitars/strings/melody

ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar
Sample: “Yo Soy Cubano” by The Chakachas
Song: “Backseat Freestyle”
What’s Sampled: Chanting

ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar
Sample: “Any Time, Any Place” by Janet Jackson
Song: “Poetic Justice”
What’s Sampled: Female Vocals/Rhodes/Piano

ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar
Sample: “Use Me” by Bill Withers/“Maybe Tomorrow” by Grant Green
Song: “Sing About me”
What’s Sampled: Guitar from “Maybe Tomorrow” by Grant Green and drum track from “Use Me” by Bill Withers.


ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar
SAMPLE.: Geraldo Rivera on Fox News going against Kendrick’s message at the BET awards
WHAT’S SAMPLED.: “This is why I say that hip hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years.” – Geraldo Rivera

ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar
SAMPLE.: “Be Ever Wonderful” by Ted Taylor
WHAT’S SAMPLED.: 90% of the beat including the singing at start of track and the drum track.

ALBUM: Bastard

ARTIST: Tyler, the Creator
SAMPLE: “Huit Octobre 1971″ by Cortex
SONG: “Odd Toddlers”
WHAT’S SAMPLED: Melody in the bridge


ARTIST: Tyler, the Creator
SAMPLE: “On & On” by Erykah Badu
SONG: “Awkward”
WHAT’S SAMPLED: Drums and drum pattern from “On & On” and the guitar for “Awkward.”

ARTIST: Tyler, the Creator
SAMPLE: “The Mixed-Up Cup” by Clyde McPhatter
SONG: “48″
WHAT’S SAMPLED: Drum track

ARTIST: Tyler, the Creator
SAMPLE: “Invitation” by Cal Tjader
SONG: “Campfire”
WHAT’S SAMPLED: Guitar melody

To close off the list of my favorite samples, here are a bunch of samples that Kanye West used in the early to mid-2000s when he produced for not only himself, but for others too.

ARTIST: Alecia Keys
SAMPLE: “Let Me Prove My Love To You” by The Main Ingredient
SONG: “You Don’t Know My Name”
WHAT’S SAMPLED: The main piano riff at 1:40-2:00 in “Let Me Prove My Love To You,” interpolated and sampled throughout “You Don’t Know My Name.”

ARTIST: Slum Village
SAMPLE: “Call Me” by Aretha Franklin
SONG:  “Selfish”
WHAT’S SAMPLED: The piano and string progressions that occur throughout both tracks.

ARTIST: The Game
SAMPLE: “I’d Find You Anywhere” by Creative Source
SONG: “Wouldn’t Get Far”
WHAT’S SAMPLED: Female vocals, bells and guitar within the first 35 seconds of “I’d Find You Anywhere” is used heavily and makes up the whole beat on “Wouldn’t Get Far.”

ARTIST: Kanye West
SAMPLE: “Afromerica” by Continent Number 6
SONG: “Power” by Kanye West
WHAT’S SAMPLED: Chanting & Clapping that occurs within the beginning of “Afromerica” is the main musical motif in “Power.”

ARTIST: Kanye West
SAMPLE: “Mystery of Inequity (unplugged)” by Miss Lauryn Hill
SONG: “All Falls Down”
WHAT’S SAMPLED: The end of the hook on “Mystery of Inequity” is interpolated and used as a hook on “All Falls Down.”

ARTIST: Kanye West
SAMPLE: Distant Lover by Marvin Gaye
SONG: “Spaceship”
WHAT’S SAMPLED: The drums, singing, and bassline within the first 35 seconds of “Distant Lover” make up the beat for “Spaceship.”


Sampling is a common technique used in the production process, but the hard part is making it sound clean and natural, as if it wasn’t sampled at all. Next time you listen to your favorite song, listen closely and see if you can detect a sample from outside of the genre. You just might find the original source!