The 50 Best R&B Songs That Flipped Rap Beats

An extensive look at two genres that are completely obsessed with one another.

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Complex Original

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In the mid-1980s, Ron G. became the master of the blend tape. By putting together R&B and hip-hop instrumentals, he and a DJ named Hot Day (whose "Hot Day Master Mix" married New Edition to Public Enemy and Isaac Hayes) reinvented the mixtape and, incidentally, shifted the course of history.

Andre Harrell's Uptown Records was already the home for hip-hop-inspired R&B, and that reputation increased when he hired an aspiring young executive named Sean Combs. Teddy Riley—only 17 when he produced Doug E. Fresh's "The Show"—had introduced the genre to New Jack Swing, crafting R&B songs with hip-hop breakbeats. Combs, however, reinvented R&B by hewing even closer to hip-hop's formula.

Inspired by Ron G. and Hot Day's blend tapes, he remixed Jodeci's "Come & Talk To Me" with the beat from EPMD's "You're a Customer." It was a hit, and Puffy's first remix credit. Soon, the R&B world saw the potential, and many others followed. If hip-hop was the music we heard pumping out of passing Jeeps, how would that not seep into the love (and lust) songs that made R&B what it was? R&B and hip-hop's fortunes became one and the same.

Now, it's time to talk about which of these early "mash-ups" stand above the rest of the pack. Brush the dirt off your baggy baseball jersey, and get ready for an extensive look at two genres that are, thankfully, obsessed with one another. These are The 50 Best R&B songs That Flipped Rap Beats.

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50. Jennifer Lopez f/ Jadakiss & Styles P "Jenny From the Block (Remix)" (2002)

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Producer: Cory Rooney, Troy Oliver, Trackmasters

After becoming a full-blown superstar whose entire life was different in every way, J. Lo was still trying to convince us she was "real" and still the same old girl from the block. What better way to connect to her roots musically than to put on for her hometown with the greatest Bronx anthem ever put to wax, BDP's "South Bronx"? That's only part of the song, though. The core of the instrumental is culled from the Beatnuts' "Watch Out Now," for a double dose of hip-hop homage. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: The Beatnuts "Watch Out Now" (1999)

Producer: The Beatnuts

Inspiration: Boogie Down Productions "South Bronx" (1987)

Producer: Ced Gee, DJ Scott La Rock, KRS-One, Partner Lee Smith

49. Donell Jones "You Should Know" (1996)

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Producer: DJ Eddie F, Mookie

Donell Jones' debut album finds him more infatuated with hip-hop than at any other point in his career. Third single "You Should Know" takes the instrumental from Biggie and his crew's "Player's Anthem" and adds some grit to an otherwise standard love song. It wasn't until his next album that Jones scored any major hits, but he set the scene for success with this record, and other exploratory records from early on in his career. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Junior M.A.F.I.A. "Player's Anthem" (1995)

Producer: DJ Clark Kent

48. Mary J. Blige "Changes I've Been Going Through" (1992)

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Producer: Cory Rooney, Prince Markie Dee, Puff Daddy

Biz was a class clown, a court jester. Mary J was decidedly not those things. But hip-hop is a fluid genre; just a few tweaks could transform his irreverent hip-hop hit into one of R&B's most harrowing, anguished cries. In producing Mary's debut record, Puffy wanted to focus on her viscerally raw vocal style. For Mary J, it was a performance of rugged authenticity. In other words: it was more hip-hop than the R&B that came before it. What we knew about Mary's life became inseparable from (though not identical to) what we knew about her music. —David Drake

Inspiration: Biz Markie f/ T.J. Swan "Make The Music With Your Mouth" (1986)

Producer: Marley Marl

47. Total f/ Black Rob "What About Us (Remix)" (1997)

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46. Blu Cantrell f/ Sean Paul "Breathe" (2003)

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Producer: Mark Pitts, Ivan Matias, Andrea Martin

A lot of the songs on this list use hip-hop beats as a launchpad for a slightly altered idea. However, Blu Cantrell's "Breathe" isn't one of them. It's a straight jack of Dr. Dre's "What The Difference." It was on the heels of Erykah Badu's flip of another beat from Dre's 2001. "Breathe" isn't as good, but still works. Dre's slowed down a sample of Charles Aznavour's 1966 song, "Parce Que Tu Crois," is just as suited for soulful singing as Eminem blacking out on verse. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: Dr. Dre f/ Eminem & Xzibit "What's The Difference" (1999)

Producer: Dr. Dre, Mel-Man

45. Blackstreet "Physical Thing" (1994)

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Producer: Markell Riley

It could be the heavy kick drum, or the way the ivories are tickled—a sound originally lifted from Aretha Franklin's "Young, Gifted and Black"—but Blackstreet certainly made the right choice in pairing "Physical Thing" with Heavy D & The Boyz's "Yes Y'all." The smooth, steady hip-hop beat was originally released as Gang Starr's "'92 Interlude" and perfectly mimics the explicit lyrics in "Physical Thing": "I wanna love you, hold you, squeeze you, please you/Let me do my thing tonight." The lyrics are the come on, and the beat is their wingman. It's a flawless match-up that you're likely to fall for immediately. —Alysa Lechner

Inspiration: Heavy D and the Boyz "Yes Y'all" (1992)

Producer: DJ Premier

44. Shai f/ Jay-Z "I Don't Wanna Be Alone (Remix)" (1996)

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Producer: Marley Marl

Jay-Z just knows how to float over Biz Markie samples. His widely celebrated verse on part two of Mya's "Best of Me" was over a flip of "Make the Music With Your Mouth," and this S. Carter Collection cut offers a take on "Nobody Beats the Biz." The song was Shai's last charting hit in 1996, and got a verse from Jay in the same year. It seemed like the record would be the last we'd hear from the group until Hov re-upped on the remix and threw it on his mixtape seven years later. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Biz Markie "Nobody Beats the Biz" (1988)

Producer: Marley Marl

43. Joe "Street Dreams" (2003)

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Producer: Roy "Royalty" Hamilton

Joe tells us from the get go, "This ain't hip hop, this is R&B," but that doesn't mean the two genres can't share. Pulling Nas' "Street Dreams" beat, Joe also borrows the lyrical themes from the record, as he looks back from his humble roots ("In the beginning it was so hard") to where he is now ("Benz rims, dubs that keep spinning'/Cribs, jacuzzi's chill in'"). He also throws in a few lines that nod to 2Pac's "All Eyez On Me," released the same year as the Nas record, with the same sample. —Alysa Lechner

Inspiration: Nas "Street Dreams" (1996)

Producer: Trackmasters

42. Dave Hollister f/ AZ "Keep Lovin' You (Remix)" (2002)

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Producer: Dream Team

"Dear Mama" is one of the most sentimental rap songs ever. It's the type of record that even hardened hip-hop fans aren't ashamed to admit they're moved by. The original version of Dave Hollister's "Loving You" lacked that emotional pull musically (though not lyrically), so he got a boost from a loaded sample that Makaveli had already made famous. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: 2Pac "Dear Mama" (1995)

Producer: Tony Pizarro, DF Master Tee, Moses

41. Alicia Keys "Girlfriend" (2001)

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Producer: Alicia Keys, Jermaine Dupri

Any R&B singer that can flip Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Brooklyn Zoo" into a melodic and soulful song about a woman's insecurities deserves a gold star, and that's exactly what Alicia Keys did with "Girlfriend." ODB's hit is interpolated throughout "Girlfriend" and provides a certain grittiness quickly became a signature part of Keys'sound. While ODB's original record was aggressive, Alicia manages to add a sultry vibe to her rendition while staying true to her New York roots. —Tannis Spencer

Inspiration: Ol' Dirty Bastard "Brooklyn Zoo" (1995)

Producer: True Master, Ol' Dirty Bastard

40. Mary J. Blige "I'm Goin' Down (Remix)" (1995)

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Producer: Andre Harrell, Puff Daddy

The certified funk of "The What" doesn't seem apt for an R&B record, at first. Hell, it hardly sounded like the average rap record with it's gently imploding knock. But Mary J. Blige isn't your average singer. Mary's vocals co-existed with the track well enough, but the breakdown at the end is where the record really clicks. Mary wails the hook while Method Man and Biggie's rhymes from the original version are cut into the track. The result is a perfect mix of vocal control by a singer and producer-induced chaos. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: The Notorious B.I.G. f/ Method Man "The What" (1994)

Producer: Easy Mo Bee

39. Total f/ Da Brat "No One Else" (1995)

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Producer: Puff Daddy, Poke

The best flips of hip-hop beats were by R&B artists who weren't afraid of hip-hop, but rather, embraced it. There was no sense of softening the sonic abrasiveness of the production, or acting frightened of hip-hop's all-rough-edges exterior. This was never more evident than on Total and Da Brat's "No One Else," a song built around one of hip-hop's most confrontational sonic statements. KRS-One's "South Bronx" wasn't a response, it was a retaliation. Queens was on the rise; Run-DMC had changed the game, relegating many of the older Bronx MCs to the "old school." MC Shan was bold enough to suggest hip-hop even started in Queensbridge.

"South Bronx" was a hard record. It was an outwardly audacious and caustic, thoroughly modern rap record, that was both pop-unfriendly and unapologetically street. It wasn't intended for singing, it called for an aggressive MC. It seemed counterintuitive, but the harder the rap song, the more friction between its two sides, the more creative sparks seemed to fly. "No One Else" transformed percussive horn stabs and a slamming drum track into swaggering song of devotion. —David Drake

Inspiration: Boogie Down Productions "South Bronx" (1987)

Producer: Ced Gee, DJ Scott La Rock, KRS-One, Partner Lee Smith

38. SWV f/ Wu-Tang Clan "Anything (Remix)" (1994)

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Producer: Brian Alexander Morgan

Pioneering hip-hop single "The Body Rock" is best known as a source for Mariah Carey's "Honey" instrumental, but SWV flipped it a few years earlier on the Wu-Tang-assisted remix to their hit, "Anything." The record was a smaller success compared to most of what SWV was releasing at the time—No. 1 hits—but still reached No. 4 on the R&B charts and played a big role in R&B's burgeoning fascination with hip-hop. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Treacherous Three "The Body Rock" (1980)

Producer: Bobby Robinson

37. Joya "I Like What You're Doing to Me" (1995)

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Producer: Vincent Hubert

Grover Washington, Jr.'s "Hydra" is a popular hip-hop sample, but the particular way it's flipped on Joya's debut single was popularized by Black Moon's "How Many MCs..." just two years earlier. It was the Detroit singer's biggest, and only, major hit. Not even the condoms packaged with her second single, "Gettin' Off on You" could prevent that fate. "I Like What You're Doing to Me" and its raunchy take on one of rap's finest loops, however, has gone down as one of R&B's greatest forgotten hits. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Black Moon "How Many MCs..." (1993)

Producer: DJ Evil Dee, Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz

36. Brian McKnight "Hold Me" (1997)

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Producer: Trackmasters

Although the video for "Hold Me" is actually a Trackmasters remix (and features a verse from Kobe Bryant), we prefer the original for its 2Pac sampling goodness. It doesn't pack quite the punch that "I Get Around" did (which is just as well since that probably wasn't the feel Brian McKnight was going for anyhow) and for most of the verses you can hardly tell where the sample originates from. But when the hook comes on and the "Step up! Step up! Step up!" part starts playing you can already feel Pac's presence. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: 2Pac f/ Shock G & Money-B "I Get Around" (1993)

Producer: Shock G

35. Erykah Badu "Get MuNNY" (2009)

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Producer: Erykah Badu, Karriem Riggins

Erykah Badu's re-sampling of Sylvia Striplin's "You Can't Turn Me Away" made its true inspirations explicit, extensively quoting Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s original, but transforming it into an improvised-sounding sketch. Her version transforms the original's street context into a daydream-like paen to uncorrupted innocence. —David Drake

Inspiration: Junior M.A.F.I.A. f/ The Notorious B.I.G. "Get Money" (1995)

Producer: Ez Elpee

34. Donell Jones "The Only One You Need" (1996)

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Producer: DJ Eddie F, Mookie

Donell Jones' first album, My Heart, didn't chart or sell well, but this track is a testament to the talent he was displaying years before his platinum efforts. It's not everyday that you hear a guy spilling his heart out over one of the hardest rap beats ever. It's weird, but it's almost like "Shook Ones Pt. 2" gets even more stuck in your head with a little harmonizing over it. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Mobb Deep "Shook Ones Pt. 2" (1995)

Producer: Havoc

33. Mary J. Blige f/ Craig Mack "You Don't Have to Worry (Remix)" (1993)

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Producer: DJ Eddie F

The amazing thing about this sample is that it almost seems as though Mary J. Blige is directly responding to the track she lifts. "Reel to Reel" is a player's anthem, following its protagonist Grand Puba as he grabs digits, cheats on his girl, and refers to himself as "Mr. Jolly Rancher." Blige takes the playful beat and flips it as she provides the female perspective: "The hearts you break with your simple lies/And you better watch out baby, the next heart may be your own." Lou Donaldson's jazz instrumental cover of Bobby Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe" is another element both tracks share. The frisky snare and impish keys provide the perfect sonic backdrop for Blige and Puba's cat and mouse game. —Alysa Lechner

Inspiration: Grand Puba "Reel to Reel" (1992)

Producer: Grand Puba, DJ Shabazz, SD50's, Latief, Kid Capri

32. SWV f/ Puff Daddy "Someone" (1997)

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Producer: Puff Daddy

Naturally, only Puffy would have the audacity to transform "Ten Crack Commandments" into a love song. SWV's "Someone" even sampled Biggie's "Make it hot" vocals, drawing explicit attention to its recreation of the hip-hop classic. —David Drake

Inspiration: The Notorious B.I.G. "Ten Crack Commandments" (1997)

Producer: DJ Premier

31. Lloyd f/ Lil Wayne "Girls Around the World" (2008)

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Producer: Big Reese, Jasper Cameron

Lloyd's known for having some of the most euphoric performances in the R&B game, each vocal driven by bubbly enthusiasm. Matching him with one of the most distinctive breakbeats of all time and throwing atop a Slick Rick vocal loop was a cause for celebration, a bone to old heads who wanted to hear their classics lighting up parties once more.

Lil Wayne's guest spot was a smart choice; his delivery draws no obvious lines of comparison to Rakim's, but he's one rapper who would be familiar with the elder MC's catalog, so he hits a sweet spot of paying homage without losing the new song's identity. "Girls Around the World" also points to the timelessness of "Paid in Full," which sounds as good pumping through club speakers today as the day it was released. —David Drake

Inspiration: Eric B. & Rakim "Paid in Full" (1987)

Producer: Eric B. & Rakim

30. Total "If You Want Me" (1998)

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Producer: Stevie J

It's amazing what a few strings and some sultry singing can do. Anyone familiar with Busta Rhymes' "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" knows that it's filled with Busta's manic energy but the beat is shifty and nervous. It doesn't seem suited for a R&B ballad, but Total's "If You Want Me" mostly used Busta's beat as a amplified drum loop, which set the pace, but not the mood. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: Busta Rhymes "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" (1997)

Producer: Shamello, Buddah

29. Mary J. Blige f/ Keith Murray "Be Happy (Remix)" (1994)

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28. Gina Thompson "Things That You Do (Remix)" (1996)

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Producer: Rodney Jerkins, Puff Daddy

The Bad Boy remix of Gina Thompson's "Things That You Do" employs the same sample of Bob James' "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" that's most widely known for its use on Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell opener, "Peter Piper." The familiarity carried the track to No. 12 on the R&B charts and made Thompson a star for a very brief moment in time. Also worth checking: the Darkchild remix, which flips Jimmy Spicer's "Money" and features Raekwon, Mike Nitty and Craig Mack. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Run-D.M.C. "Peter Piper" (1986)

Producer: Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons

27. Allure f/ Nas "Head Over Heels" (1997)

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Producer: Trackmasters, Mariah Carey

MC Shan's "The Bridge" is an all-time hip-hop classic, a celebration of Queensbridge's role in hip-hop history, the world's introduction to a long-running creative crucible for generations of artists to come. Allure, naturally, needed a rap star from Queens to fill in the guest spot when they nabbed Marley Marl's beat, years before Nas released "Da Bridge 2001." Allure became the first group to sign to Mariah Carey's Crave Records, and in 1997, "Head Over Heels" helped MC Shan hit the Top 40. —David Drake

Inspiration: MC Shan "The Bridge" (1987)

Producer: Marley Marl

26. MoKenStef "He's Mine (Remix)" (1995)

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Producer: Big Ham

Patrice Rushen's "Remind Me" has been used numerous times throughout hip-hop history, from Intelligent Hoodlum's indelible "Grand Groove (Part II)" to Brotha Lynch Hung's "Walkin To My Funeral." But what are the odds that producer Big Ham, when tasked with remixing Los Angeles R&B trio MoKenStef's no. seven Billboard hit "He's Mine" with Grand Puba, wasn't inspired by Tweedy Bird Loc?

OK, so the song wasn't a major smash. But "My Dicc Is Still Prejudiced," hip-hop's most notorious bromide against white women, came out only one year previous. Tweedy Bird Loc was also an artist from Los Angeles. And it flipped the same sample in a very similar manner. Loc's track was never going to get this much exposure—assuming 20/20 didn't get involved—so why not? The result: a breezy hip-hop-inflected summer jam. No telling, though, why Ham elected to sample Slick Rick's vocals, rather than Tweedy Bird Loc's inarguable "I deserve a motherfuckin' Grammy." —David Drake

Inspiration: Tweedy Bird Loc "My Dicc Is Still Prejudiced" (1994)

Producer: D-Fingaz

25. India Arie "Video" (2001)

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Producer: Carlos "6 July" Broady

Both of these records source their sound to Brick's 1977 record, "Fun," but there's no denying that Akinyele's 1996 hit, "Put It in Your Mouth," popularized this particular flip of the oft-sampled song. That's why it was a little shocking, hilarious, and amazing to hear India Arie singing a neo-Soul women's empowerment anthem over a beat excruciatingly similar to what we'd come to associate with one of the raunchiest tracks in rap history. For good hip-hop measure, "Video" also contains a sample of Audio Two's seminal classic, "Top Billin'." —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Akinyele "Put It In Your Mouth" (1996)

Producer: Chris Forte, Frankie Cutlass, DJ Enuff, Jiv Pos, Doctor Butcher, Ez Elpee

24. Faith Evans f/ Carl Thomas "Can't Believe" (2001)

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Producer: P. Diddy, Mario Winans

When Faith Evans and Carl Thomas got in the studio together in 2001, the duo composed a song that would show off both of their unique vocal styles; the result was "Can't Believe." The record was produced by Mario Winans and P. Diddy, who used a sample from The Firm's single "Phone Tap." The Firm, once considered a hip hop supergroup because of its absurdly-talented membership (Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature) released a record that was widely considered a flop. But Carl and Faith were able to flip the "Phone Tap" string and bass driven beat in way the complimented both of their vocals perfectly and allowed Carl Thomas to harmonize with the guitar section. —Tannis Spencer

Inspiration: The Firm f/ Dr. Dre "Phone Tap" (1997)

Producer: Dr. Dre, Chris "The Glove" Taylor

23. Jagged Edge "Addicted to Your Love" (1997)

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Producer: Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal

Even before Dr. Dre flipped Shaft soundtrack staple "Bumpy's Lament" for 1999's "Xxplosive," producer Fabian Hamilton grabbed a portion of the song for Lil Kim's Hard Core cut, "Drugs." A year after Kim's version dropped, Jermaine Dupri-produced group Jagged Edge turned up with a strangely similar flip on "Addicted to Your Love," from their debut album. "Addicted" wasn't a single, but YouTube play counts are an affirmation that it remains a fan favorite for anyone who got into JE before they started churning out back-to-back No. 1 R&B hits. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Lil Kim "Drugs" (1996)

Producer: Fabian Hamilton

22. Jennifer Lopez f/ Nas "I'm Gonna Be Alright (Remix)" (2001)

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Producer: Trackmasters

In 1995, Luniz sampled Club Nouveau's "Why You Treat Me So Bad" and made "I Got 5 On It" into a Top 10 hit. The success of that song was certainly tied to its epic Tone Capone beat. Meanwhile, Poke and Toke of Trackmaster and Corey Rooney opted to revisit Luniz's hit only six years later for the remix to Jennifer Lopez' "I"m Gonna Be Alright." J. Lo's song didn't have the same thump as the Luniz' original, but then again, it wasn't going for the same dark atmosphere either; J. Lo shifted the song's tone entirely, in order to prove that she'd moved on from her relationship with Puffy. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: The Luniz "I Got 5 On It" (1995)

Producer: Tone Capone

21. Keyshia Cole f/ Missy Elliott & Lil Kim "Let It Go" (2007)

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Producer: Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott landed her first No. 1 hit in 2001 after producing the Moulin Rouge! cover of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade." Revisiting classics to make fresh hits must have stuck in her mind when she sampled Mtume's "Juicy Fruit" for Keyshia Cole's "Let It Go" in 2007. But there's absolutely no way any hip-hop fan can hear that break and not smile and think of The Notorious B.I.G.'s all time classic "Juicy," so naturally Lil Kim was invited to rhyme on the record. Although the song was about letting failed relationships go, it still felt like a bit of tribute to Big Poppa, especially when Kim shouts out "Baby baby!" in her best Biggie impression. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: The Notorious B.I.G. "Juicy" (1994)

Producer: Poke, Pete Rock

20. Mary J. Blige "You Don't Have to Worry" (1993)

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Producer: Tony Dofat, Kenny Kornegay

It was the era of baseball jerseys, backwards ballcaps and Timberland boots, and Mary rocked the around-the-way-girl fashions with more style than anybody. When she sang, it had the same kind of off-the-block swagger. This wasn't her only song to use a Biz Markie loop (See also: "Changes I've Been Going Through"). "You Don't Have To Worry" flips Biz Markie's lighthearted hit "The Vapors," but Mary J's tale of a relationship gone wrong gives the song a completely different subtext. The song is almost therapeutic in its mantra-like repetition of the title, as its main character confidently assures her ex-lover (and herself?) that he's burned his last bridge. —David Drake

Inspiration: Biz Markie "The Vapors" (1988)

Producer: Marley Marl

19. Brian McKnight f/ Kelly Price & Mase "You Should Be Mine (Don't Waste Your Time)" (1997)

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Producer: Puff Daddy

Like much of James Brown's catalog, his 1972 record, "I Got Ants in My Pants" has been sampled in hip-hop a number of times. Public Enemy's 1988 classic, "Don't Believe the Hype," made a two-second loop from the Brown song famous, and Cypress Hill flipped it three years later on the "Blunted Mix" of their breakout track, "How I Could Just Kill a Man." Puffy turned it into an R&B jam six years after that, creating an updated version of the loop for Brian McKnight and Ma$e. It became the highest charting single from Anytime. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Public Enemy "Don't Believe the Hype" (1988)

Producer: The Bomb Squad

18. Montell Jordan "Get It On Tonite" (1999)

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Producer: Brian Palmer, Sergio Moore

Thanks to Da Brat's "What'Chu Like," most think "Get It On Tonite" was an R&B song that hip-hop stole, since it rode an extremely similar flip of the same Claudja Barry sample within a few months of the release of Montell Jordan's second charting smash.

But Prodigy and his producer Ez Elpee actually beat both acts to the well. According to Gino Sims, he joined Ez Elpee in Chris Lighty's office to play him the song. A few curious Def Jam execs also snuck a listen—and within a few months, suspiciously, Montell Jordan had a smash hit. —David Drake

Inspiration: Prodigy "Gun Love" (1997)

Producer: Ez Elpee

17. Tamia "So Into You" (1998)

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Producer: Tim & Bob

Most know that Tamia's "So Into You," originally released on her LP Tamia, was repurposed a few years later by Fabolous for his album Street Dreams and her LP More. (Fab also released a single version with Ashanti singing Tamia's part). Producers Tim and Bob—who later went on to produce Bobby Valentino's biggest songs—very well may have been inspired by a little-remembered act from East Orange, New Jersey, who looped the Commodore's "Say Yeah" in pretty much exactly the same way just a few years prior.

The Rottin Razkals, whose membership included the younger brother of Naughty By Nature's Treach, released one album on Motown. "Oh Yeah" was their biggest single, peaking at no. 14 on the Hot Rap Singles chart in 1995. It even had a video. —David Drake

Inspiration: Rottin Razkals "Oh Yeah" (1995)

Producer: Naughty by Nature

16. Jennifer Lopez f/ Ja Rule "Ain't It Funny (Remix)" (2001)

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Producer: Irv Gotti, 7 Aurelius

At a point in the early '00s, Murda Inc. had become one of hip-hop's most bankable imprints, and it did it by building upon the same formula Puffy had pioneered at Uptown Records: transforming Ron G's blend tape philosophy into saleable records that mashed together hip-hop and R&B. Jennifer Lopez was hardly the world's most powerful vocal presence, but she had personality, an around-the-way girl made good. The original version of "Ain't It Funny" was written by Lopez and its producer, Cory Rooney. The remix, produced by Irv Gotti and 7 Aurelius, came about when "I'm Real" became such a smash, forcing Lopez in a hip-hop direction.

"I'm Real" was hip-hop, but she had no other records in that vein. A liberal reclamation of the beat for Craig Mack's "Flava in Ya Ear," which had been released seven years prior, "Ain't It Funny (Remix)" featured a guest verse from Ja Rule and Cadillac Tah. JLo's part on the remix was actually written by Ashanti, who transmitted one verse she wrote at the last minute, via phone and two-way, according to an interview with Billboard Magazine. The song hit number one on the charts, which also made Ja Rule a presence on two consecutive tracks to hit number one. —David Drake

Inspiration: Craig Mack "Flava in Ya Ear" (1994)

Producer: Easy Mo Bee

15. Case f/ Foxy Brown & Mary J. Blige "Touch Me, Tease Me" (1996)

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Producer: Kenny "Smoove" Kornegay

Back when soundtracks used to regularly break hit singles, The Nutty Professor became the source of a breakout for R&B singer Case. "Touch Me, Tease Me," with Foxy Brown and Mary J Blige, went gold, peaking at no. 14 on the Hot 100, and helped lead to the release of Case's debut album Case in August of that year.

At the time, Case was dating Blige; she also had co-writing credits on his album. It's appropriate, then, that Case would also incorporate hip-hop production into his R&B singles. In this case, Schoolly D's proto-gangster rap track about the Park Side Killers, "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?," was transformed into a sensuous R&B anthem. The slow jam was reset, and placed in a context where hip-hop had become the default background sound of the neighborhood. —David Drake

Inspiration: Schoolly D "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" (1985)

Producer: J.B. Weaver, Jr.

14. Jodeci "Come and Talk to Me (Remix)" (1992)

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Producer: Puff Daddy

Puff Daddy was simply a rising star behind the scenes at Andre Harrell's Uptown Records; "Come and Talk to Me (Hip-Hop Remix)" was the song that put him on the map. Inspired by Ron G's blend tapes, the aspiring entrepreneur combined Jodeci's slow jam singing style withe a beat swiped from EPMD's buzzing "You're a Customer," and a classic was born. The song went number one, and single-handedly began Puff Daddy's career. When Puff says he invented the remix, this is where it all began. —David Drake

Inspiration: EPMD "You're a Customer" (1988)

Producer: EPMD

13. Groove Theory "Tell Me" (1995)

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Producer: Bryce Wilson

Bryce Wilson was known as a rapper (and member of Mantronix) called MC Luvah; Mantronix disbanded in 1991. Two years later, he met Amel Larrieux while she was working as a receptionist. The two formed Groove Theory, and, in 1995, "Tell Me" was born.

The single was built around a sample of the Mary Jane Girls "All Night Long." This song had been sampled throughout rap and R&B by this point; Mary J Blige even performed a cover of it on her sophomore record, My Life. But Big Daddy Kane's "Smooth Operator" was the definitive take, built around the song's swaggering bassline. Larrieux and Wilson made the song a tribute to the vulnerability of the crush, as Larrieux swooned for the object of her affection. —David Drake

Inspiration: Big Daddy Kane "Smooth Operator" (1989)

Producer: Big Daddy Kane

12. Joe f/ Mystikal "Stutter (Double Take Remix)" (2000)

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Producer: Soulstar

In 2000, with the help of Soulstar, Joe released the "Stutter (Double Take Remix)," featuring rapper Mystikal. The remix features a sample of The Pharcyde's 1993 hit "Passin Me By" from their debut album Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde. Soulstar and Joe stayed close to the original beat with few deviations and allowed Joe's vocals to transform a hip-hop song about unrequited love into an anthem about infidelity. —Tannis Spencer

Inspiration: The Pharcyde "Passin' Me By" (1992)

Producer: J-Swift

11. Jagged Edge f/ Reverend Run "Let's Get Married (Remix)" (2000)

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Producer: Jermaine Dupri, Bryan Michael-Cox

Historical. Influential. Groundbreaking. Run-D.M.C.'s debut single is all of the above, and that's probably why Jagged Edge's flip of it for their "Let's Get Married" remix was so successful. That distinction carried the record to No. 1 on the R&B charts; the quartet even scored a guest verse from Reverend Run. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Run-D.M.C. "It's Like That" (1983)

Producer: Jam Master Jay, Russell Simmons, Larry Smith

10. Mya f/ Jay-Z "Best Of Me Part 2" (2000)

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Producer: Trackmasters

This wasn't the first time R&B was inspired by Biz Markie's "Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz"; Mary J had already reinterpreted the beat on her debut record for "Changes I've Been Going Through." One of hip-hop's clear innovations was the malleability of the source material.

The biggest rap songs in the mid-1980s, when Biz's track was released, were sparse and percussive. This meant that with a few subtle touches, they could be completely transformed. All of these tracks made use of piano over the same drum pattern. But where Mary J Blige took Biz in a darker direction, Mya (with the help of Jay-Z) transformed the song into an upbeat, effervescent summer jam, and one of the best R&B-rap collaborations of the young decade. —David Drake

Inspiration: Biz Markie f/ T.J. Swan "Make The Music With Your Mouth" (1986)

Producer: Marley Marl

9. Mario Winans "I Don't Wanna Know" (2004)

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Producer: Mario Winans

When it comes to the DNA of this 2004 hit record we have to go back to Irish singer Enya for her 1980 song "Boadicea" from her self titled debut album. The sound was most notably sampled by the hip hop trio The Fugees on the group's hit 1996 single "Ready or Not." In 2004, Mario Winans thrusted his way into secular music with "I Don't Wanna Know," featuring P. Diddy. He took one of hip hop's most celebrated beats and told a sad tale of deception and infidelity from a man's perspective. He took a long stride from gospel music, and it paid off, as the song became his biggest record to date. —Tannis Spencer

Inspiration: Fugees "Ready or Not" (1996)

Producer: The Fugees, Jerry Duplessis

8. Ashanti "Foolish" (2002)

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Producer: Irv Gotti

Ashanti stepped onto the R&B scene as Murder Inc's first lady in a major way. Already a major brand name thanks to its star Ja Rule and industry big shot Irv Gotti, Ashanti not only added some diversity to the roster, but softened up the testosterone-heavy and rap-beef-ready image of the label. With production help from Gotti, Ashanti released "Foolish" in 2002, and a storm of success would soon follow.

The single features a recognizable sample: in the first three seconds, listeners are brought back to the smooth sounds of Notorious B.I.G.'s "One More Chance (remix)," which in turn sampled DeBarge's "Stay With Me." Its recognizeable piano riff streams throughout the entire song, amidst a soft snare and angelic-sounding cymbals. The sample gave the track a '90s hip-hop feel, which, coupled with Ashanti's gentle vocals, helped the single land at number one on the charts. —Tannis Spencer

Inspiration: The Notorious B.I.G. f/ Faith Evans "One More Chance (Remix)" (1995)

Producer: Puff Daddy, Rashad Smith, Trackmasters

7. Lauryn Hill "Ex-Factor" (1998)

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Producer: Lauryn Hill

Everybody wants to talk about the good old days. While it isn't immediately obvious, Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor" does sample Wu-Tang's "Can It All Be So Simple." It was a bit ironic for Ms. Hill to give Wu-Tang props just a few years after the Fugees took subliminal shots at the spaghetti-slurping mafioso dons of Raekwon's Cuban Linx on The Score (thought maybe this goes hand-in-hand with the Fugees' dissolution).

What's sonically unique about this record is that hallmark of RZA's style is his lo-fi prowess, yet Lauryn's version was as polished as they come. "Ex-Factor" essentially burnishes the sample in a layer of gloss. But that was always the thing about Lauryn: she might have been all pop-pristine on the surface, but buried deep within was always a realness, and that true talent always found a way to shine through. —Insanul Ahmed

Inspiration: Wu-Tang Clan "Can It Be All So Simple" (1993)

Producer: RZA

6. Groove Theory f/ Sadat X & Lord Jamar "Tell Me (Remix)" (1995)

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Producer: Charles Roane, Russell Elevado

Arguably the most slept-on R&B-remix-that-flipped-a-rap-beat in R&B-remix-that-flipped-a-rap-beat history, Groove Theory's incredibly popular single initially built on the same sample (the Mary Jane Girls' "All Night Long") as Big Daddy Kane's "Smooth Operator." For the remix, producers Charles Roane and Russell Elevado instead flipped an Edie Brickell sample ("What I Am"), originally utilized by Grand Puba and Brand Nubian for their rap classic "Slow Down."

The new sample seemed to only magnify the power of Amel Larrieux's vocal performance. The original's confident devotion is replaced by an urgency, tinting the original's swagger with the fleeting feeling that things might be slipping away: "This is one opportunity that I can't miss" seems even more desperate, to the song's great benefit. —David Drake

Inspiration: Brand Nubian "Slow Down" (1990)

Producer: Grand Puba, Brand Nubian

5. Montell Jordan "This Is How We Do It" (1995)

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Producer: Oji Pierce, Montell Jordan

Slick Rick's debut was an acclaimed hip-hop classic. The album was produced by Rick, Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler and Jam Master J using an Oberheim DMX drum machine. Music technology, especially in the 1980s, can easily date music; Slick Rick's record is timeless, but there's no question that the album sounds of-its-era. But sometimes a track can transcend that context.

"Children's Story" was one of these moments, as Montell Jordan discovered with his massive mid-90s R&B smash "This Is How We Do It." It transformed Slick Rick's cautionary narrative into a bold lifestyle statement. By 1995, the West Coast's rap scene had taken over; New York's production sound had become dirtier, more tense, while California's sound opened up and became more pop-friendly. Between the era's sonic shifts and Jordan's laconic vocal style, Slick Rick's beat found new life as a left coast party anthem. —David Drake

Inspiration: Slick Rick "Children's Story" (1988)

Producer: Slick Rick

4. Erykah Badu "Bag Lady (Remix)" (2000)

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Producer: Erykah Badu, Tone da Backbone

The Shaft soundtrack's "Bumpy's Lament" is home to one of the most famous guitar licks in music. It was used on the original album version of Erykah Badu's "Bag Lady," and had also been used a year earlier on Dr. Dre's 2001 anthem, "Xxplosive." Someone got the brilliant idea to blend Badu's track with the much harder-hitting instrumental of Dre's record, and magic was created. The "Cheeba Sac Mix" was the version sent to radio, and the version used in the music video for Badu's single. In turn, Dr. Dre's steroids-enhanced production boost helped "Bag Lady" shoot to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. —Ernest Baker

Inspiration: Dr. Dre "Xxplosive" (1999)

Producer: Dr. Dre, Mel-Man

3. Monica "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)" (1995)

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Producer: Dallas Austin

1995 was a great year for R&B music. Artists like TLC, Montell Jordan, Brandy and Monica were churning out hit records and becoming larger-than-life stars in the music industry. The best artists seemed to create something that drew on the heartstrings of fans and brought about a sense of nostalgia. "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," produced by Dallas Austin, was just that record for Monica.

The song samples LL Cool J's 1993 record "Back Seat (Of My Jeep)," and was just the edge that Monica needed to make the song the first single from her debut album Miss Thang. Monica used the beat's slow charge to her advantage, as she calmly belted her way through chord after chord with ease. —Tannis Spencer

Inspiration: LL Cool J "Back Seat (of My Jeep)" (1993)

Producer: QD III, LL Cool J

2. Mary J. Blige "Real Love" (1992)

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Producer: Mark C. Rooney, Mark Morales

"Real Love" is a genuine, heartfelt tribute not to love, but to the feeling of yearning for it. Love is about a contradiction: in order to gain it, you must risk losing it. Mary J. Blige's "Real Love" is a a true survivor's anthem. It's a song about being damaged, and remains powerful because it shows such resistance and strength in spite of that damage. The song's power comes from its faith in possibility, against the odds.

Mary J. was the queen of hip-hop soul because her voice had the same gritty character as the production she worked with; she was spiritually of the hip-hop generation. "Real Love" is built around the distinctive drum pattern of Audio Two's "Top Billin," which in turn was an accidental flip of The Honeydripper's "Arrest the President." The song's propulsive drum break contains the optimism of a crush's butterflies, while its rough edges speak to the unavoidable costs paid along the way. —David Drake

Inspiration: Audio Two "Top Billin" (1987)

Producer: Daddy-O, Audio Two

1. Mariah Carey "Honey" (1997)

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Producer: Puff Daddy, Stevie J, Q-Tip, Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey's reinvention of the World Famous Supreme Team's "Hey DJ" redeemed what had become a somewhat-forgotten '80s rap classic. It also gave a poised flawless star like Mariah a foot in the gritty hip-hop world, but let her keep the heels on. Switching to Tims and baseball jerseys like Mary J. wouldn't have been the same. In so doing, it proved the malleability of hip-hop and the adaptability of R&B. Anyone could be hip-hop, and it didn't require faking the funk.

It also proved the long-term viability of the musical ideas that flourished in hip-hop's first decade; not only could oldies be re-purposed for hip-hop's purposes, but hip-hop's own family tree was an open book for reinvention. The musical instincts of its pioneers had been right on; with the right presentation, the World Famous Supreme Team had a chart-dominating no. 1 hit. R&B had come a long way from Ron G's blend tapes; now one of the world's most popular vocalists benifitted from hip-hop's innovations. —David Drake

Inspiration: World Famous Supreme Team "Hey DJ" (1984)

Producer: Stephen Hague

Inspiration: The Treacherous Three "The Body Rock" (1980)

Producer: Bobby Robinson

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