9. Jay-Z "Intro/A Million & One Questions/Rhyme No More" (1997)
Album: In My Lifetime, Vol. 1
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
Don't tell us sampling ain't an art. Yeah, yeah, you think it's just looping up some riff from some hit from the '80s and putting a drum pattern on top just because Puffy did it. And sure, maybe it is that simple (but hey, if that's the case, why aren't you making millions of dollars as a rap producer?), but don't tell us the way guys like DJ Premier do it isn't artful. Just look at "Intro/A Million & One Questions/Rhyme No More" which uses not one sample, but four.
The first half of the song has Latimore's "Let Me Go" (which is where it gets its piano loop) running concurrently with Aaliyah's "One in a Million" which helps Jay come off playful but still dangerous, like a joker with a TEC-9 up his sleeve. The most impressive part isn't the second half of the song (Premier loved throwing multiple beats on a track, see "I'm The Man") but the transition between the two songs that samples Ferrante & Teicher's "Break Up to Make Up." That part alone could have been the intro and we would have been satisfied. Oh and the second half? It's so good that more than 15 years later, when Pusha T used just a few seconds of it on "Numbers on the Board," it was the best part of his song. —Insanul Ahmed