Some of the greatest Hip Hop songs derived from the songs our parents and grandparents used to groove to. Famous rappers like Notorious B.I.G., Common, Run DMC, Gang Star, and EPMD sampled oldies to create new hits. Check out some of the original R&B songs that impacted Hip Hop culture.
James Brown’s “Payback” from his 1974 album of the same name. The song’s lyrics were originally written by Fred Wesley, trombonist and bandleader but Brown changed most of the lyrics to talk about the revenge against the man who betrayed him by stealing his money and woman. The song is notable for its spare, open instrumental arrangement and its use of wah-wah guitar, a relative rarity in Brown’s previous funk recordings. The song has been sampled by numerous Hip Hop artists, such as Big Daddy Kane in “Just Ryhmin”, LL Cool J in “Boomin System”, and Pete Rock just to name a few.
Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” included a strong message that made a lasting impact on our culture. Hip Hop MCs like Common and Lil’ Wayne sampled the song, discussing the misconceptions of black men in America. In Common’s album Finding Forever, it was titled “Misunderstood” and Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter III it was titled “DontGetIt”.
Lynn Collins’ “Think” was her biggest hit and the song she was best known for. It was released as a single in 1972 on James Brown’s People Records. It was produced and co-written by Brown himself and featured instrumental backing from his band The J.B.’s. The song contains 5 breaks, which have been widely sampled in Hip Hop. Most famously the “Woo! Yeah!” and It takes two to make a think go right” loops in Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two”. Some other Hip Hop legends known to have sampled this soulful funk song includes Afrika Bambaataa, Biz Markie, Chubb Rock, Kurtis Blow, and Public Enemy.
Al Green’s “Love & Happiness” off his album titled ‘I’m Still in Love With You’ released in 1972. In 2003, the album was ranked number 285 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2004, the song “Love and Happiness” was ranked number 98 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Al Tariq, Busta Rhymes, Redman, and Mobb Deep were a few of the artists that sampled this song.
Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” is a song composed by Burt Bacharach, with lyrics by Hal David. It was recorded at the same December 1963 session that yielded “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, which in 1964, became Warwick’s second Top Ten hit. Released in April of that year, “Walk on By” became a landmark single, reaching number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. One notable version was by funk/soul musician Isaac Hayes, whose 1969 cover on his groundbreaking album ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ was transformed into a twelve-and-a-half minute funk vamp. Slick Rick’s “Mona Lisa” and Pete Rock’s “Walk on By”, are some of the many more that sampled this song.
Isley Brothers’ “Between The Sheets” was recorded in February 1983 and charted that April. The song made a huge impression on the Isleys’ long legion of R&B fans who took the song to number three on the Billboard Top R&B Singles chart while it peaked at number one on Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart. The song’s R&B success helped their ‘Between the Sheets’ album go platinum, the brothers’ first platinum album since 1978’s Showdown. The song would be heavily sampled in the years to come by hip-hop artists such as Andre Nickatina, Common, Da Brat, The Notorious B.I.G., Jim Jones, UGK, Drake, as well as freestyled over by Lupe Fiasco. Most recently, it was used by Jay-Z in a track, “Ignorant Shit”, on his recent album American Gangster alum.
Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit” is a song written by James Mtume and released as the lead-off single from Mtume’s sixth album, also titled Juicy Fruit. The mid-tempo song is arguably Mtume’s most well-known hit, proving enormously successful on R&B radio stations when first released. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart on June 4, 1983 and remained there for 8 weeks. The single remarkably became a certified one million seller on July 25th, 1983 without even becoming a Top 40 hit. The song has been prominently sampled by hip-hop artists throughout the years, most notably by The Notorious B.I.G. on his debut solo single “Juicy”.
Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” was released in 1982. It was his first single since his exit from his long-term record label Motown earlier that year. “Sexual Healing” has become a staple for hip hop samples by artists such as Big Daddy Kane in his 1989 song “Smooth Operator” and Erick Sermon who sampled the song on his 2001 song “I’m Hot”. Rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony interpolated Gaye’s “Get up, get up, get up, get up/Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up” chant from “Sexual Healing” for their 1995 hit “1st of tha Month”.
Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” was released in 1968, posthumously after Redding’s death in 1967 on the album The Immortal Otis Redding. Redding’s version reached #38 on the Billboard R&B charts and #51 on the pop charts. 20 years later, Masta Ace samples this song’s bass line for “Four Minus Three”, a song from his debut album, Take a Look Around. The hip-hop producer Marley Marl sampled the five-note ascension and descension intro for his song “The Symphony” from his 1988 album In Control, Volume 1. This was re-sampled in Snoop Dogg’s song “Ghetto Symphony” from his 1999 album No Limit Top Dogg. Rapper Frankie Cutlass also uses the five ascending notes on his song “The Cypher Pt III” from his 1997 album Politics & Bullshit.
Soul Searchers “Ashley’s Roachclip” is an instrumental song from their 1974 album Salt of the Earth on Sussex Records. It was produced by Carrol Hynson and Joe Tate and written by Lloyd Pinchack. A portion of the song from 3:30-3:50 contains a widely recognized drum break that has been sampled countless times in songs across several genres. Nice & Smooth, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, 2 Live Crew, and the one you all listened to before is Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full” sampled this song.
From one generation to the next, good soulful music has found forever a place in the music world. Sampling is as if history in the form of music was being passed on to generations to come to be told in their own version. Makes you think which of the top ten songs that are out now would be sampled by unborn artists in the future.
—— By: Karina Martinez