The 77 Best Rock Samples in Rap History

The greatest examples of producers flipping rock tracks for hip-hop beats.

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Complex Original

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As much as some intentional hybrids of rap and rock suck, guitar-toting rockers with long hair and spandex have unwittingly been an important part of hip-hop’s fabric since pretty much the beginning.

The connection between rap and rock goes all the way back to the Bronx park jams of the 1970s, when DJs like Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash found that records by bands like Thin Lizzy and the Rolling Stones had breakbeats just as funky as those by more likely suspects from the world of R&B.

The marriage between rock and hip-hop took on added dimensions in 1986, when metal-loving rap producer and Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin sampled from Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin on the breakout records which propelled Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys—and, by extension, hip-hop as a whole—into pop music’s mainstream.

While those jacks were obvious to anyone who’d ever tuned to classic rock radio, as sampling methods have become more advanced, the source material used in rap songs can be a lot less apparent these days.

Everyone old enough to know the words to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” knows its signature “Dun dun dun dada dun dun” melody comes from Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” but how many Fabolous and Gucci Mane fans can name the rock bands sampled on “Breathe” and “Lemonade”?

For the latest example of a rap hit indebted to a rock staple, see Meek Mill’s summer smash “Amen,” and the piano scales it borrows from the Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute.” We’re willing to bet more than a few of your favorite rap records have a little rock 'n' roll in ‘em, whether you realize it or not. Read on for breakdowns of the rap songs which have made the best use of rock samples, both classic and obscure.

[Ed. Note—Only songs that rock in the traditional sense—sorry indie electronic jams and rockers gone disco—were considered for this list.]

Written by Jesse Serwer (@JesseSerwer)

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77. Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby" (1990)

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Sample: Queen “Under Pressure” (1981)
Album: To the Extreme
Producer: Vanilla Ice
Label: SBK Records

Vanilla Ice has been a symbol for all that's wack and corny in hip-hop for some two decades now, but can we at least admit now that the sample of Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" on "Ice Ice Baby" was kinda dope? Even if ol' Vanilla, who had used the sample without authotization, infamously played himself by claiming to MTV that the basslines in the two songs were "not the same" 'cause "Ice Ice Baby" went "ding ding ding dingy ding ding-tick-da-ding-ding-diggy-ding-ding" while "Under Pressure" was all "ding ding ding dingy ding ding ding ding ding dingy ding ding." Riiiiiiiiiight.

76. Cypress Hill f/ Marc Anthony and Pitbull "Armada Latina" (2010)

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Sample: Crosby, Stills & Nash “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (1969)
Album: Rise Up
Producer: Jim Jonsin
Label: EMI/Priority

With his epic goatee and biker fashions, Jim Jonsin looks more like the lost member of ZZ Top than a Miami bass pioneer (he founded seminal Bass label Cut it Up Def) or the guy responsible for some of Lil Wayne and T.I.’s biggest hits, in “Lollipop” and “Whatever You Like.”

He’s sampled more frequently than anyone from the rock 'n'roll canon, often in unexpected fashion, building Trick Daddy’s “Let’s Go” from Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” and looping the B-52’s “Rock Lobster” and the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” into Pitbull songs (“Hey You Girl” and “Gimme A Bottle,” respectively).

His most curious maneuver, though, might be flipping Crosby, Stills & Nash's Woodstock-era hippy favorite “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” into a Latin BBQ anthem, in Cypress Hill’s surprisingly good 2010 comeback single “Armada Latina” featuring Marc Anthony and Pitbull.

75. Chubb Rock "Daddy's Home" (1988)

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Sample: Bad Brains "Re-Ignition" (1986)
Album: Chubb Rock Featuring Hitman Howie Tee
Producer: Hitman Howie Tee
Label: Select Records

Black Rasta punks who essentially birthed New York's hardcore scene after relocating from D.C. in the early '80s, the Bad Brains have always been hip-hop in spirit, even if their music has rarely sounded like it. Mos Def, the Roots, and the Beastie Boys have all homaged their music in various ways (the late Adam Yauch dubbed them his favorite band, and produced their most recent LP) but the only substantial Bad Brains sample we know of (fleeting clips in a handful of Beastie songs notwithstanding) is this early Chubb Rock joint "Daddy's Home," hooked up from the Brains' "Big Takeover" by severely underrated Brooklyn producer, Hitman Howie Tee.

74. Terror Squad f/ Cam'ron "NY State of Mind" (2004)

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Sample: Billy Joel “New York State of Mind” (1976)
Album: N/A
Producer: StreetRunner
Label: Terror Squad/Universal/SRC

Rappers pour their hearts into mixtapes these days but original (meaning non-freestyle) tracks used to end up on mixtapes—or white-label 12"s—primarily because they couldn't be included on official label releases, often due to sample clearance issues.

One track that made the rounds in this fashion was Fat Joe, Remy Ma, and Cam'ron's "NY State Of Mind." The song had been intended for Terror Squad's 2004 album True Story but when Billy Joel and his lawyers declined to sign off on the sample of his classic by the same name, it found its audience on hip-hop's black market.

73. B.O.B "Lonely People" (2009)

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Sample: The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby(1966)
Album: Who the F#*k is B.O.B. (mixtape)
Producer: Jim Jonsin
Label: Hoodrich Entertainment

Produced by Jim Jonsin, "Lonely People" was one of the songs that put B.O.B on the map back in 2008. Despite an impressive video and positive public response, the song didn't appear on the artist's 2010 debut LP B.O.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray, and was never released as an official single—a fact we're guessing has something to do with the difficulty in obtaining sample clearances from the Beatles.

In 2007, it was widely reported that the Wu-Tang Clan had secured the first-ever Beatles-sanctioned sample, to use "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on an 8 Diagrams track called "The Heart Gently Weeps," but the song was ultimately released sans sample, with George Harrison's son, Dhani, replaying the song's signature guitar riff.

72. Xzibit "The Foundation" (1995)

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Sample: Billy Joel “The Stranger” (1977)
Album: At the Speed of Light / Hurricane Streets OST
Producer: DJ Muggs
Label: Loud Records

Billy Joel fans will tell you his music is bigger than rock 'n' roll but the Piano Man definitely knew how to rock out. He did just that on his fifth and arguably definitive album, ‘77’s The Stranger which, in addition to mega ballad “Just the Way You Are,” contained harder fare like “Movin’ Out” and the title track.

It’s the latter’s delicate, wistful piano intro that producer DJ Muggs, of Cypress Hill/Soul Assassins fame, used to bring the necessary gravity to “The Foundation,” Xzibit’s message to his then-newborn son. Damn, time flies—that kid’s now old enough to be pimping his own ride.

71. Childish Gambino "New Prince (Crown on the Ground)" (2010)

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Sample: Sleigh Bells "Crown on the Ground" (2010)
Album: I Am Just a Rapper
Label: n/a

Whatever your thoughts are on Donald Glover's rap persona Childish Gambino, it's hard to argue with the actor-turned-rapper's taste in indie rock. The beats on 2010's I Am Just A Rapper sound like hip-hop as ensvisioned by a Pitchfork editor, with Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks" and Animal Collective 's "My Girls" among the records flipped. The track that works the best with Glover's jumpy flow, though, is "New Ground," which samples noisy duo Sleigh Bells' abrasive "Crown on the Ground."

70. Juelz Santana f/ The Game "Red Bandana" (2005)

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Sample: The Coasters "Down in Mexico" (1956)
Album: Back Like Cooked Crack Vol. 2: More Crack
Producer: Oddz N Endz
Label: n/a

Doo wop greats The Coasters had their first hit with "Down in Mexico" in 1956, and 14 years later, in 1970, they recorded a rock version of it that later featured on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Orlando producers Oddz N Endz took the "he wears a red bandana" line on Juelz Santana's "Red Bandana" from that version, rounding out the beat with their own sludgy heavy metal guitar work.

69. Ol' Dirty Bastard "I Want Pussy" (1999)

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Sample: Blood, Sweat & Tears "You've Made Me So Very Happy" (1967)
Album: N***a Please
Producer: The RZA
Label: Elektra

To describe N***a Please, ODB’s 1999 followup to Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, as eclectic would be a profound understatement. The mostly RZA, Neptunes and Irv Gotti-produced LP—a work of great, though perhaps accidental, genius on the part of ODB— was all over the place, with Dirt McGirt offering more off-key singing and baffling chants than actual rapping.

On the RZA-produced “I Want Pussy,” perhaps the most unhinged sounding song on a record that could easily have been used to justify admission to a psych ward, Big Baby Jesus switched casually between chants of “I want pussy...for free! You can not money!” and “Yeah, my mama can not protect y’all.”

The ominous-sounding soundbed for the rants was actually NYC jazz rockers Blood, Sweat & Tears’ rather upbeat cover of Motown singer Brenda Holloway’s "You've Made Me So Very Happy."

68. 88-Keys f/ Shitake Monkey "The Friends Zone" (2008)

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Sample: Devo "Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy)" (1978)
Album: The Death of ADAM
Producer: 88 Keys
Label: Decon

88-Keys' 2008 LP The Death of Adam was a concept album about "the power of the punani," and the producer-turned-MC used some pretty evocative samples to tell the tale of "Adam," a poor soul who's quest for ass ultimately leads to his demise.

To convey the vibe of being stashed by a love interest in that awful place known as "the friends zone," Keys used Devo's "Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy)." Unlike the album protagonist's mission, that operation was a success, resulting in one of The Death of Adam's best tracks.

67. Jay-Z f/ Memphis Bleek "It's Alright" (1998) / Sugar Bear "Don't Scandalize Mine" (1998) / Tim Dog "Step To Me" (1992)

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Sample: Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime” (1981)
Album: Streets is Watching OST / Single / Penicillin on Wax
Producer: Damon Dash/Mahogany Music; Ray Davis/Shabazz; Bobby Crawford/Tim Dog
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam; Next Plateau/Coslit; Ruffhouse

The Talking Heads started out on New York's punk circuit, playing venues like CBGB and Max's Kansas City, but by the early '80s the David Byrne-led art-rock outfit were playing with P-Funk's Bernie Worrell and taking sonic cues from Afrobeat and hip-hop.

Naturally, records they made during this period were sampled on numerous hip-hop records, most notably by Jay-Z, who sampled a blend of "Once in a Lifetime" and Kraftwerk's "Hall of Mirrors" for "It's Alright" from 1998's Streets is Watching soundtrack.

Hov and Dame Dash (who's credited as the co-producer of "It's Alright," along with Mahogany Music) weren't the first to use the record, though: Public Enemy-affiliated Long Island rapper Sugar Bear sampled it on "Don't Scandalize Mine," the A-side to his one and only single from 1988, a full decade earlier.

But the award for best use of a "Once In a Lifetime" loop would probably have to go to Bronx rapper-turned-Atlanta-con-artist Tim Dog, who flipped it for "Step To Me," one of several diss tracks from 1991's Penicillin on Wax which saw him dissing Eazy E, DJ Quik, and basically the whole city of Compton.

While the song's lyrics ("Peace to Ice T, peace to Ice Cube/DJ Quik, you can suck my dick") are laughable now (even more so after the Dateline NBC appearance that outed Tim as a conman earlier this year), they sounded like the hardest thing out when "Step To Me" first dropped in '91.

66. Drake "Let's Call It Off" (2009)

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Sample: Peter Bjorn and John "Let's Call It Off" (2006)
Album: So Far Gone
Producer: Peter Bjorn and John
Label: October's Very Own

It seems like everyone is rapping over indie rock these days but when Drake did it on So Far Gone in 2009, it was something new and different. His version of Swedish dream pop singer Lykke Li's "Little Bit" is the track everyone remembers but he also tapped into some proper guitar-driven rock with his flip of Peter Bjorn and John's "Let's Call It Off."

65. Organized Konfusion "Walk Into the Sun" (1991)

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Sample: Steely Dan “Green Earrings”(1976)
Album: Organized Konfusion
Producer: Organized Konfusion
Label: Hollywood/Basic

Hip-hop loves it some Steely Dan. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s songs, known for their dry, witty lyrics and complex, jazz-influenced arrangements, have made their way into a number of hip-hop classics over the years, and Mos Def has even gone on record and cited “The Dan” as one of his primary influences.

While rap producers have generally gravitated toward the grooves laid down by hired session hands like bassist Chuck Rainey and drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie when sampling the group, it’s the quirky guitar harmonics in 1976’s “Green Earrings” that caught the attention of Organized Konfusion’s Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po.

The Queens duo sampled the cut from ‘76’s The Royal Scam on “Walk Into the Sun,” one of the best tracks from the Queens duo’s classic and underrated self-tited ‘91 debut, though the hook for the song came from English R&B outfit Central Line’s “Walking Into Sunshine,” a song itself better known in hip-hop as the sample in LL’s “Jinglin’ Baby.”

64. Black Moon "I Got Cha Open" (1993)

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Sample: Iron Butterfly "Get Out of My Life Woman" (1968)
Album: Enta Da Stage
Producer: Da Beatminerz
Label: Nervous Records

Written by Allan Toussaint and originally recorded by Lee Dorsey in 1966, this New Orleans R&B classic has been covered countless times by everyone from Bill Cosby (yes, Bill Cosby) to the Doors.

Most versions, including the original, start with a killer drum break, making the song, in all of its aggregate forms, one of the most sampled songs ever. It's Iron Butterfly's 1968 version that you've probably heard most often, on Black Moon's original album version of "I Got Cha Open," plus tracks from Cypress Hill, Ghostface Killah, Das EFX and Action Bronson.

63. MHz "World Premier" (1998)

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Sample: Rolling Stones "Monkey Man" (1969)
Album: Table Scraps
Producer: MHz
Label: Fondle 'Em/NCS Records

Four years after it lost founding member Camu Tao to cancer, MHz, the Columbus, Ohio rap crew rounded out by RJD2, Copywrite, Jakki Da Motamouth and Tage Future, recently reformed under the name MHz Legacy. Central to the backpack era stalwarts' legacy is their 1998 debut single "World Premier." With its atmospheric guitars looped from the Rolling Stones' "Monkey Man," it's one of the best and most underrated 12" cuts from Fondle Em Records' impeccable catalog.

62. Mellow Man Ace "Mentirosa" (1989)

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Sample: Santana "Evil Ways" (1969)
Album: Escape From Havana
Producer: Tony G
Label: Capitol

"Mentirosa" by pioneering Chicano rapper Mellow Man Ace was one of the first Spanglish rap songs when it dropped in '89. Naturally the beat had to have some Latin flavor, and it came courtesy of Santana's "Evil Ways." That song was originally recorded by Latin jazz percussionist Willie Bobo, whose son, Eric, would later become a member of Cypress Hill, with Mellow Man Ace's older brother, Sen Dog.

61. Kid Cudi "The Prayer" (2008)

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Sample: Band of Horses "The Funeral" (2006)
Album: A Kid Named Cudi
Producer: Plain Pat
Label: n/a

They're not exactly what Parliament bass lines are to G-Funk but indie rock samples are a staple of emo rap, especially when it comes to mixtapes. Kid Cudi's "The Prayer" is kind of the gold standard when it comes to this phenomenon.

The A Kid Named Cudi beat based on the melancholic guitar lead from Band of Horses' "The Funeral" (and credited to Plain Pat) proved to be an ideal sound bed for Cudi to lay out his world view and talk "some shit so real, beyond from the heart, from the soul you can feel."

60. M.O.P. f/ Teflon & Jay-Z "4 Alarm Blaze" (1998)

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Sample: Survivor "Eye of the Tiger" (1982)
Album: First Family 4 Life
Producer: Laze E Laze
Label: Relativity

Written at the request of Sylvester Stallone after he was unable to get persmission to use Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" for Rocky III, Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" is literally a song made for people to punch to. So it's no wonder that its iconic intro has been sampled often in hip-hop. While few of these flips have been memorable, Brooklyn's hardcore warriorz M.O.P. made a grimy joint worth fighting over in "4 Alarm Blaze" with Jay-Z and Teflon.

59. Masta Ace "Music Man" (1990) / The Roots f/ Mos Def, Styles P & Dice Raw "Rising Down" (2008)

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Sample: Grand Funk Railroad "Nothing is the Same" (1970)
Album: Take A Look Around / Rising Down
Producer: Marley Marl/Questlove
Label: Cold Chillin'/Reprise/Warner Bros., Def Jam

Today they're known primarily for being a reoccurring punchline on the Simpsons—they're Homer's favorite band—but the Michigan trio Grand Funk Railroad were arguably "bigger than the Beatles" at one point. (Or at least they broke the Fab Four's attendance record at New York's Shea Stadium).

Crate diggers know the group also for "Nothing Is the Same," the break from which was used by Masta Ace on "Music Man," the opening cut to his Take A Look Around album, and by the Roots on the title track from '08's Rising Down.

58. Handsome Boy Modeling School f/ Grand Puba "Once Again (Here to Kick One for You)" (1999)

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Sample: Three Dog Night "Old Fashioned Love Song" (1971)
Album: So...How's Your Girl?
Producer: Prince Paul, Dan the Automator
Label: Tommy Boy; Chemistry

Woodstock-era hippies Three Dog Night are best remembered—or perhaps forgotten—for their nonsensical, kid-friendly "Joy to the World" ("Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine!") but they've been sampled on some seriously dope hip-hop tracks.

With an honorable mention to Diamond D 's "Best Kept Secret" (which clipped guitars from 3DN's "I Can Hear You Calling") one of the coolest flips was Prince Paul and Dan the Automator's treatment of "Old Fashioned Love Song" on Handsome Boy Modeling School's "Once Again (Here to Kick One for You)."

One of the less goofy tracks on 2000's So...How's Your Girl, Paul and Automator slowed the organ and hook down to creepy levels, offering a rare moment of gravitas on an otherwise hilarious and hijinks-filled comedy album.

57. Eminem "Beautiful" (2009)

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Sample: Queen and Paul Rodgers “Reaching Out" (2005)
Album: Relapse
Producer: Eminem, Jeff Bass
Label: Shady/Aftermath/Interscope

In 2004, 13 years after the death of Freddie Mercury, Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor reformed the band as a touring act with former Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers on lead vocals.

"Reaching Out," the opening track from their 2005 live album with Rodgers, Return of the Champions, hardly screams hip-hop yet Eminem and co-producer Jeff Bass found enough inspiration in the brief track (originally written by May for a one-off charity project called Rock Therapy in 1996, it segues into a version of Queen's "Tie Your Mother Up" after just a minute) to build the Relapse motivational anthem "Beautiful" around it.

Or perhaps it was just returning the favor—Queen + Paul Rodgers, as the supergroup was known, opened their 2005 tour with Eminem's "Lose Yourself" as the house music.

56. Beastie Boys "Jimmy James" (Original Version) (1992)

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Sample: Jimi Hendrix "Foxy Lady" (1967 ) / Jimi Hendrix "Happy Birthday" (1989) / The Turtles' "I'm Chief Kamanawanalea (We're the Royal Macadamia Nuts)" (1968)
Album: Check Your Head
Producer: Beastie Boys, Mario Caldato
Label: Capitol/Grand Royal

The Beastie Boys and co-producer Mario Caldato used seven Jimi Hendrix songs—"Are You Experienced?,” "EXP" "Third Stone From the Sun,” "Foxy Lady," "Still Raining, Still Dreaming," "Voodoo Child" and Jimi's version of "Happy Birthday" with Curtis Knight—along with the drums from the Turtles' "I'm Chief Kamanawanalea (We're the Royal Macadamia Nuts)" to make the original beat for their Adam Yauch-penned tribute to the late guitar god, "Jimmy James."

After Hendrix's famously uncooperative estate, which controls the rights to most of his catalog, denied sample clearances, they were forced to recut the song using live instrumentation and samples they were able to clear of "Foxy Lady" and "Happy Birthday" (and the "Kamanawanalea" drums, along with an entertaining mishmash of vocal snippets, from early rap classics like Mantronix's "Fresh Is the Word," and Cheap Trick's live version of "Surrender"). In any case, the song still came out dope, one of the finest cuts on the Beasties' genre-bending 1992 opus, Check Your Head.

55. D-Nice "They Call Me D-Nice" (1990)

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Sample: The Turtles “Buzzsaw” (1968)
Album: Call Me D-Nice
Producer: D-Nice
Label: Jive Records

Mod/hippy rockers The Turtles are best known for “Happy Together,” the ‘67 mega-hit that’s soundtracked a million and one movie montage scenes, but the L.A. band could get funky too, as evidenced by the Stax-esque “Buzzsaw.”

Originally featured on 1968 concept album The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands (on which the group played each song in the guise of a different “band”) it later appeared as the B-side to the oft-sampled (by De La Soul, among others) “You Showed Me.”

Boogie-Down-Productions-member-turned-solo-artist D-Nice was probably the first to lift the groove, later used by the X-Clan and Insane Clown Posse, among others, for the title track to his 1990 debut LP.

54. Joe Budden "Stained" (2006)

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Sample: Staind "Outside" (2001)
Album: Mood Muzik 2: Can It Get Any Worse?
Producer: Scram Jones
Label: n/a

Somewhere between Creed's self-righteous heartland rock and the nu-metal that was all the rage at the time was Staind's "Outside," a huge downer that just wouldn't go away in the early aughts.

In a show of his talents, producer Scram Jones actually managed to extract some hip-hop value from the mopefest, turning "Outside" into "Stained," the memorable closing cut from Jumpoff Joey's critically lauded, career-reviving Mood Muzik 2 tape.

53. 3rd Bass "Wordz of Wisdom" (1991)

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Sample: Peter Gabriel "Sledgehammer" (1986)

Album: Derelicts of Dialect

Producer: Stimulated Dummies

Label: Def Jam/Columbia/SME Records

It's tough to call "Sledgehammer" category-wise—Peter Gabriel's 1986 smash was clearly inspired by Stax-era R&B, and even used an Emu sampler to generate its distinctive flute sound.

But the former Genesis drummer's lone US No. 1 was a staple on rock radio, and it's bass line is the musical core of one of the greatest diss tracks of hip-hop's Golden Era: 3rd Bass' Vanilla Ice and Hammer-bashing "Pop Goes the Weasel," a cut which also contained elements of The Who's "Eminence Front."

For another dope rock loop hooked up by 3rd Bass, check their flip of Gary Wright's "My Love Is Alive" on '89's "Wordz of Wisdom."


52. Kendrick Lamar f/ Dr. Dre "The Recipe" (2012)

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Sample: Twin Sister "Meet the Frownies" (2010)
Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city
Producer: Scoop Deville/Dr. Dre
Label: Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope/Geffen

Nothing brings hipster bands and rappers from Compton together like some weed, it seems. Twin Sister were just another indie pop group from New York with a modest following until "Meet the Frownies"—or more specifically singer Andrea Estella's line about "smoking weed" with you—caught producer Scoop Deville's ear, while listening to independent Cali station KCRW.

That led to Estella and Twin Sister's placement on the hook to Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre's "The Recipe," the lead single from the most anticipated rap debut of the year. Not a bad bit of accidental marketing.

51. De La Soul "Area" (1993)

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Sample: Jeff Beck "Come Dancing" (1971)
Album: Buhloone Mindstate
Producer: Prince Paul
Label: Tommy Boy

British guitar god Jeff Beck's "Come Dancing" is one of those staple drum breaks that's been used by pretty much everyone. The holy trinity of '90s NY beatmakers Pete Rock (for INI's "Center of Attention"), DJ Premier (for Gang Starr's "The Rep Grows Bigga") and Large Professor (for Main Source's "Time") have all used it.

The most creative and explicit use of it would probably have to go to another NY area beat legend, Prince Paul, who made the drums a musical focus on De La Soul's "Area." A post-Prince Paul De La would use the break two more times on their '96 follow-up Stakes is High as well.

50. 2 Live Crew "The Fuck Shop" (1989)

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Sample: Van Halen “Ain’t Talking About Love” (1978)
Album: As Nasty as They Wanna Be
Producer: 2 Live Crew
Label: Luke/Atlantic

2 Live Crew’s “The Fuck Shop” opens with quick soundbytes from a comedy album by LaWanda Page (Aunt Esther of Sanford and Son fame) and Guns N’ Roses’ then-fresh “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” and segues into ‘60s pop rock anthem “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys.” But it’s the guitar riff from Van Halen’s in this case appropriately titled “Ain’t Talking About Love” that’s at the center of Uncle Luke and crew’s s tribute to no-tell motels.

49. Lil Wayne "Help" (2007)

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Sample: The Beatles "Help"
Album: Tha Carter 3 Sessions
Label: n/a

The powers in control of the Beatles catalog have never cleared any samples of John, Paul, George and Ringo—at least any that have come out. (See Wu-Tang's rumored, but ultimately unsused sample of "My Guitar Gently Weeps," for 8 Diagrams' "The Heart Gently Weeps").

That hasn't stopped a small army of rappers and producers from helping themselves to the Fab Four's musical treasure chest, without official permission. Lil Wayne claims to be "from the dirt where the Beatles and John Lennon be at" on this freestyle over the Beatles' classic "Help," but this one still wound up on Tha Carter 3 Sessions, not the actual album.

48. EPMD "Strictly Business" (1988)

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Sample: Eric Clapton “I Shot the Sheriff” (1974)
Album: Strictly Business
Producer: Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith
Label: Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records

Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” is one of the great rebel anthems of all time. Guitar god Eric Clapton’s 1974 cover version stripped the original of all of its soul, urgency and bite, turning it into blase, middle-of-the-road radio rock. It was that version, though, that Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith used to make hip-hop gold on the title track from their landmark 1988 debut, blending Clapton’s guitar riffage and female backing vocals with soundbytes ("Don't step too close or else you might get shot") sampled from their own “It’s My Thing.”

47. Oh No "Heavy" (2007) / Mos Def "Supermagic" (2009)

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Sample: Selda "InceInceBirKarYağar” (1976)
Album: Dr. No’s Oxperiment / The Ecstatic
Producer: Oh No / Oh No
Label: Stones Throw / Downtown

Mos Def dug Oh No’s flip of Turkish singer Selda’s trippy "Ince Ince Bir Kar Yağar” on Dr. No’s Oxperiment, an album of instrumentals made entirely from samples of obscure Mediterranean psych rock tracks, so much he had the Oxnard, California rapper/producer (and younger brother of sample wizard Madlib) rework it onto the opening track for his 2009 album The Ecstatic. Though featued less prominently in the mix, Oh No’s Stones Throw labelmate Percee P (or, more specifically, producer Koushik) had actually used a sample of "Ince Ince Bir Kar Yağar” two years earlier on his “Reverse Part Two.” No matter what the context, the song's trippy guitar riff sounds seriously bugged out.

46. Pete Rock and CL Smooth "In the House" (1994) / Smif N Wessun "Timz 'N Hood Check"/"Next Shit" (1995) / Eminem f/ Bizarre "Amityville" (1998)

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Sample: Power of Zeus “The Sorcerer of Isis” (1970)
Album: The Main Ingredient / Dah Shinin’ / The Marshall Mathers LP
Producer: Pete Rock; Da Beatminerz; Eminem/F.B.T.
Label: Elektra; Duck Down; Interscope/Aftermath

Not much information is known about Power of Zeus. About the only thing we can say about the psych rock outfit, which released their lone album, The Gospel According to Zeus, in 1970, is that they seem to have been seriously obsessed with ancient mythology. But the devastating drum break from their "The Sorcerer of Isis" is all over mid '90s hip-hop, from Pete Rock and CL Smooth's "In the House" to Large Professor's remix of Common's "Resurrection," while Da Beatminerz used it twice on Smif N Wessun's classic 1994 debut, Dah Shinin. Then there's Marshall Mathers LP's somewhat slept on “Amityville,” featuring Bizarre, which featured the sample even more prominently than the aforementioned cuts.

45. MF Doom f/ MF Grimm "Tick, Tick" (1999)

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Sample: The Beatles’ “Glass Onion” (1968)
Album: Operation: Doomsday
Producer: MF DOOM
Label: Fondle ‘Em

Sample-wise, MF Doom's Operation: Doomsday was heavily flavored by '80s R&B/Quiet Storm ballads, but the choppy "Tick, Tick" featuring MF Grimm flipped the cryptic string arrangement that ends the Beatles' "Glass Onion." The White Album track was actually John Lennon's way of toying with rumors that Beatles songs played backwards had hidden meanings, something MF Grimm may or not be referring to in "Tick, Tick"'s refrain, "Slow it up, speed it up, slow it up, speed it up."

44. Geto Boys "Gangsta of Love" (1989)

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Sample: The Steve Miller Band “The Joker” (1973)
Album: Grip It! On That Other Level
Producer: Prince Johnny C
Label: Rap-A-Lot

“I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker/I sure don't want to hurt no one,” Steve Miller famously sang on his band’s stoner anthem “The Joker.” The Geto Boys had something else entirely in mind when they riffed on another lyric from the song—”Some call me the gangster of love”—on their ‘89 breakthrough, Grip It! On That Other Level. The first Geto Boys album with the classic lineup of Scarface, Willie D. and Bushwick Bill, the Houston crew’s sophomore LP was as aggressive and violent as anything from out of NY or LA up to that point, altering a lot of people’s perception about the South with songs like “Read These Nikes” and “Mind of a Lunatic.” But, despite the sample of the uber-mellow “Joker,” ‘Face and co. saved some of their harshest lines (“If she ain’t sucking, that’s a waste of conversation, money and my fucking”) for the deceptively titled “Gangsta of Love.” The song would also show up on 1990's major label debut The Geto Boys, though later versions of that album would contain a remix of the song with a sample of Lynrd Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," presumably for legal reasons.

43. Fat Joe "So Much More" (2005)

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Sample: Vanilla Fudge "Bang Bang" (1968)
Album: All or Nothing
Producer: Cool and Dre
Label: Terror Squad/Atlantic

Fat Joe's rhymes on "So Much More" aren't all that memorable. It's Cool and Dre's arresting beat, specifically the piercing organ sounds cribbed from blues rockers Vanilla Fudge's "Bang Bang," that stick to your ribs, and make this one of Joey Crack's toughest tracks. Oddly enough, "Bang Bang" was originally a Cher song, written by the singer's late husband Sonny Bono.

42. Beastie Boys "The Sounds of Science" (1989)

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Sample: The Beatles "When I'm Sixty Four" (1967) The Beatles “The End” (1969) et. al
Album: Paul’s Boutique
Producer: The Dust Brothers
Label: Capitol Records

Made during the halcyon days after innovators like the Bomb Squad and Paul C. broke the possibilities for sampling wide open—and before legal limits brought through lawsuits closed them back up in many senses—the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique is one of the most sample-dense rap LPs around. Producers E.Z. Mike and King Gizmo of the Dust Brothers (with some help from the Beastie Boys, Mario Caldato and one-time Dust Brother Matt Dike of Delicious Vinyl fame) raided the catalogs of everyone from the Band, the Eagles and the Ramones (on “High Plains Drifter”) to the Commodores (whose “Machine Gun” anchored “Hey Ladies”). But they saved some of their most creative beat work for the Beatles-inspired “The Sounds of Science,” juggling a batch of tracks from the Fab Four’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album before abruptly speeding up the tempo and climaxing with Abbey Road’s “The End.”

41. Dame Dash Presents Dream Team f/ Kanye West, Beanie Sigel, Cam'Ron, Young Chris and Twista "We Are the Champions" (2002)

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Sample: Queen “We are the Champions” (1977)
Album: Paid in Full Soundtrack
Producer: Kanye West
Label: Roc-A-Fella Records

Queen released "We Will Rock You" and "We are the Champions" together as a single in 1977, and the two songs are typically played back-to-back on classic rock radio stations—alll of which seem to still play the combo every hour on the hour, 35 years after their release. The distinctive stomp-stomp-clap drum pattern from “We Will Rock You”—the apotheosis of arena rock and the stadium-rattling jock jam—has been borrowed by everyone from Eminem (on “Till I Collapse”) to the Roots (on “Rock You”), though typically producers have opted to recreate the beat rather than shell out a hefty sum for sample clearance (Ice Cube’s “When Will They Shoot,” from ‘92’s The Predator, being one exception). For "Champions," the opening track on the soundtrack to Paid in Full (Some versions of the LP also refer to the release as "Dame Dash Presents Dream Team"), a young Kanye West took the road less traveled and sampled “We Are The Champions,” the somber, ruminative antithesis to “We Will Rock You.” The track happens to be the second-ever appearance by Kanye as a featured MC (the first being Abstract Mindstate's "Welcome 2 Chicago"). As Dame Dash notes in the intro: "That's my motherfuckin producer...he rap better than most rappers." You don't say. More recently, Drumma Boy revived the "We Are the Champions" sample for Wiz Khalifa, Trae and Big Sean’s mixtape-only “Phone Numbers.”

40. 2 Live Crew "Do Wah Diddy" (1988)

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Sample: Manfred Mann “Do WahDiddyDiddy”(1964)
Album: Move Somthin’
Producer: 2 Live Crew
Label: Luke Records

Originally recorded by little-known American band The Exciters in 1963, "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" became a massive international hit for British mod rockers Manfred Mann one year later in 1964, but it took on a second life after it was prominently featured in the 1981 Bill Murray military comedy Stripes, becoming a popular marching cadence in the real life U.S. military. That's likely where Miami Bass pioneers 2 Live Crew, whose founding members Brother Marquis, Fresh Kid Ice and Mr. Mixx met while stationed at a Riverside, California Air Force base in the mid '80s (Luther Campbell wouldn't join the group until their relocation to Miami in 1987), gained the inspiration for their version of "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" which, naturally, replaced the coy lyricism of the original with X-rated stories and ignorant schoolyard humor.

39. Cam'Ron "What Means The World To You" (2000)

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Sample: The Police "Roxanne" (1978)
Album: S.D.E.
Producer: Armando Colon
Label: Epic

Whether you're views on the matter line up more with E-40 on "Captain Saveaho" or Richard Gere's character in Pretty Woman, Sting's lyrics about saving a chick from the world's oldest profession on The Police's "Roxanne" are timeless. Killa Cam's raps in "What Means the World To You"? Not so much. "Top baller in every state/In Chi I'm Mike, Boston I'm Kenny, Miami I'm Timmy, in Phoenix I'm Penny" Boston I'm Kenny? Paul Pierce will tell you that wasn't even right in 2000, when "What Means the World To You" dropped, and Kenny Anderson's game was already on the decline.

38. J Dilla "Workinonit" (2005)

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Sample: 10 CC “The Worst Band in the World” (1974)
Album: Donuts
Producer: J Dilla
Label: Stones Throw

The song J Dilla sampled for “Workinonit,” from the late production legend’s instrumental opus Donuts, was called “The Worst Band in the World” but 10cc, the band who made it, were actually quite good. Best known for 1975’s “I’m Not in Love,” the quartet were sort of like the British version of Steely Dan, known for witty lyrics, towing of the line between experimentation and accessibility. Dilla was certainly a fan: he sampled 10cc twice on Donuts alone, also warping 1973’s “Johnny Don’t Do It” into the trippy “Waves."

37. Jay-Z f/ Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek & Freeway "1-900 Hustler" (2000)

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Sample: Ten Wheel Drive and GenyaRavan "Ain't Gonna Happen" (1969)
Album: The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
Producer: Bink!
Label: Roc-A-Fella/ Def Jam

Hov's Dynasty: Roc La Familia was stacked with hits but this brilliant East Coast update of the Convicts' H-Town classic "1-900-Dial-A-Crook" was the street favorite. Among other things, the tune, which also featured Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek, launched the career of Freeway, whose very first Roc verse came on the track. The number of people who could recite all of the lyrics far outnumbers those who can name the sample— Ten Wheel Drive and Genya Ravan "Ain't Gonna Happen"—at its core.

Side note: While you're just as likely to find this New Jersey fusion group's records in the jazz section, Genya Raval, a Holocaust survivor hyped at the time as the East Coast answer to Janis Joplin, is all rock 'n' roll.

36. Ice-T "Midnight" (1991)

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Sample: Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath” (1970) / Led Zeppelin “When the Levee Breaks” (1971)
Album: O.G. Original Gangster
Producer: DJ Aladdin/SLJ
Label: Sire/Reprise

Ice-T didn't just take up heavy metal overnight when he convened Body Count for the thrash outfit's self-titled 1992 debut (an album whose music was far overshadowed by the controversay that surrounded Ics's lyrics to "Cop Killer.") The future Fin Tutuola hinted at his coming musical transformation with several tracks on '91's O.G. Original Gangster, including "Body Count" (the first track to feature the musicians from said band) and "Midnight," one of the first (of many to come) rap tracks to properly hook up a sample of metal gods, Black Sabbath. And there went the neighborhood.

35. De La Soul "Transmitting Live From Mars" (1989) / Freestyle Fellowship "Sunshine Men" (1991)

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Sample: The Turtles “You Showed Me” (1969)
Album: 3 Feet High and Rising / To Whom It May Concern
Producer: Prince Paul/All In All
Label: Tommy Boy/Beats & Rhymes

Prince Paul had made a few beats for Stetsasonic’s In Full Gear while employed as that Brooklyn group’s DJ in the ‘80s but it was his inspired work on De La Soul’s 1989 debut 3 Feet High and Rising, an album hailed for its innovative sampling, that first established the Amityville, Long Island native as a giant in the hip-hop production game. Unfortunately, Paul and De La's unauthorized use of the Turtles’ “You Showed Me” for “Transmitting Live From Mars” (one of many offbeat interludes on the album, which introduced the phenomenon of the hip-hop skit) triggered a 1991 lawsuit by the Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman of the Turtles that would set the legal precedent prompting record labels to begin stringently crediting and paying significant royalties for samples. (And thereby deterring many producers and artists from using samples with the same voracity as they had been).  But not before Freestyle Fellowship, the L.A. rap quartet (consisting of Aceyalone, Myka 9, P.E.A.C.E. and Self Jupiter) who brought Native Tongues-style, jazz-inspired lyricism to the West Coast, used the same sample on “Sunshine Men,” from their 1991 album To Whom It May Concern.

34. Kanye West f/ Dwele "Power" (2010)

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Sample: King Crimson “21st Century Schizoid Man” (1969)
Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Producer: S1 / Kanye West / Jeff Bhasker
Label: Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella

If My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy didn’t work out as a title for Kanye West’s wildly moody and eclectic fifth album, then "21st Century Schizoid Man" might have made for a good alternative. It certainly would have fit. Of course, he would have had to shell out more cash to prog rock titans King Crimson—not that that’s anything to Kanye, one of few people to get sample clearances from Michael Jackson and Elton John. “21st Century Schizoid Man” is of course the song that producer S1 (the basic track was already built when West, who’s said to have added “polish,” got to it) sampled most prominently on MBDTF’s lead single, “Power.” Much like MBDTF as a whole, Crimson’s signature track is twisted and disjointed as can be, yet somehow makes perfect sense.

33. Meek Mill f/ Drake and Jeremih "Amen" (2012)

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Sample: The Doobie Brothers “Minute By Minute” (1978)
Album: Dreams & Nightmares
Producer: Key Wane
Label: Maybach Music Group/Warner Bros.

Meek Mill’s summer smash “Amen” has a lot of religious folk in an uproar with its blasphemous lyrics, especially in the artist’s hometown of Philly. Perhaps the song’s detractors might take less issue if they knew that the “gospel” piano chords weren’t actually from a gospel record, but rather a loop of the intro from the Doobie Brothers’ yacht-rockin '78 hit “Minute by Minute”?

32. Nas "Thief's Theme" (2004) / "Hip Hop Is Dead" (2006)

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Sample: Iron Butterfly "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (1968)
Album: Street's Disciple / Hip-Hop Is Dead
Producer: Salaam Remi / Will.I.Am.
Label: Columbia/Def Jam

It's generally believed that Nas sampled Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" twice, on back to back albums, but that's actually not true. For Streets Disciple's "Thief's Theme," producer Salaam Remi hooked up a loop of the Incredible Bongo Band's cover version of Iron Butterfly's 1968 psych rock classic. It was on the title track to 2006's Hip-Hop is Dead that Nas and producer Will.I.Am—yes, that's who produced it—sampled the riffage from Iron Butterfly's original. Appropriately enough, the second most prominent sample in that song is the Incredible Bongo Band's own signature tune, the oft-sampled B-boy classic, "Apache."

31. Public Enemy "She Watch Channel Zero" (1988)

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Sample: Slayer “Angel of Death” (1986)
Album: It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Producer: The Bomb Squad
Label: Def Jam/Columbia

Rick Rubin’s first move after branching out from Def Jam and forming his new, rock-focused label Def American, was signing Slayer and producing their landmark 1986 speed metal album Reign in Blood. Two years later, another of his discoveries, Public Enemy—Rubin had convinced Chuck D. to pursue a career in rapping after becoming infatuated with “Public Enemy No. 1,” a track he’d originally made as a promo for his college radio station at Long Island's Adelphi University—used Reign in Blood’s best song, “Angel Of Death” as the musical foundation for “She Watch Channel Zero,” a noisy (and ironic considering the involvement of future junk TV hall of famer Flavor Flav) takedown of schlocky TV.

30. Beastie Boys "Rock Hard" (1985) / Boogie Down Productions "Dope Beat" (1987)

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Sample: AC/DC “Back in Black” (1980)
Album: Single / Criminal Minded
Producer: Rick Rubin; Ced Gee/DJ Scott LaRock/KRS-One
Label: Def Jam; B-Boy

The Beastie Boys and Run-DMC's 1986 albums License to Ill and Raising Hell, both produced by Rick Rubin, are pretty much the starting points for the hybridization of rap and rock. While Run-DMC's "King of Rock," with its blistering solo by unsung guitar hero Eddie Martinez, also deserves a place in the conversation, the Beasties were actually sampling hard rock before License to Ill. Rick Rubin has said AC/DC are his favorite band of all-time, and fittingly it was the guitar riff from the group's best known track "Back in Black" which he used for "Rock Hard," the Beasties' very first single after signing to Def Jam. However, the record was pulled from the shelves when AC/DC's lawyers caught wind of the uncleared sample and has never been re-issued on CD (though a Europe-only 12" was issued by Def Jam in 2007), leaving it as perhaps the most obscure official release in the Beasties' well-documented catalog. That didn't stop BDP's KRS-One and Scott LaRock, aided by co-producer Ced Gee of Ultramagnetic MCs, from looping the same sample for Criminal Minded's "Dope Beat." Perhaps due to the lower profile of BDP's label, B-Boy Records, the sample remained in place, and still appears on re-issues of the group's classic debut. As KRS himself once wondered to journalist Brian Coleman, “To this day I don’t know why AC/DC didn’t sue us for that song.”

29. Kanye West "Hell of a Life" (2010)

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Sample: The Mojo Men “She’s My Baby” (1996)
Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Producer: Kanye West, Mike Caren, No I.D., Mike Dean
Label: Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella

Kanye must listen to a lot of rock music, or at least his co-producers do. Rock samples both obvious and obscure abound on 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Falling into the latter category would definitely be "She's My Baby" by San Francisco's the Mojo Men. Far more familiar than the song's title, though, is its writer and producer: Sly Stone, who, before forming Sly and the Family Stone, was briefly a member of the psych/garage outfit.

28. Mobb Deep "Getaway" (2001)

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Sample: Barclay James Harvest "Taking Me Higher" (1977)
Album: Infamy
Producer: EZ Elpee
Label: Loud/Columbia/SME Records

British prog act Barclay James Harvest were described in their late '70s heyday as a "poor man's Moody Blues" (prompting the group to write a song by that name) but "Taking Me Higher" sounds uncannily like soft rock kings REO Speedwagon. In any case, producer EZ Elpee turned it into some classic Mobb Deep murda muzik with "Get Away," easily one of the best tracks on Havoc and P's spotty Infamy album.

27. EPMD "You're A Customer" (1988)

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Sample: ZZ Top “Cheap Sunglasses” (1980) / The Steve Miller Band “Fly Like An Eagle” (1976)
Album: Strictly Business
Producer: Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith
Label: Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records

Among other innovations (like the concept of rappers using their government names) EPMD’s Strictly Business helped steer hip-hop away from the over-reliance on James Brown breaks seen at the time. Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith’s debut LP introduced a whole new set of thicker, chunkier samples into the hip-hop canon, like "Seven Minutes of Funk" by Tyrone Thomas and the Whole Darn Family (later used on Jay-Z's "Ain't No Nigga," among other tunes) and Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce," from “It’s My Thing” and “You Gots To Chill,” respectively.

And, as we’ve already seen from the entry on “Strictly Business” (which lifted Eric Clapton’s version of “I Shot the Sheriff), the Brothers from Brentwood borrowed much from hard rock, an inescapable part of the soundscape in their native Long Island.

As funky as "You're A Customer" was, the chunky groove at its center actually came from "Cheap Sunglasses," a ‘74 recording from Texas beard gardeners ZZ Top. Samples of the Steve Miller Band’s "Fly Like An Eagle" (used more prominently by Marley Marl for Biz Markie’s "Nobody Beats the Biz,”) and Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie,” rounded out a track that was certainly one of the dopest hip-hop B-sides (it was released behind "It's My Thing") of its day.

26. Young MC "Bust A Move" (1989)

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Sample: Ballinjack “Found a Child” (1970)
Album: Stone Cold Rhymin’
Producer: Matt Dike and Michael Ross
Label: Delicious Vinyl

Just about every single that LA rap label Delicious Vinyl dropped in its late ‘80s heyday had a familiar, white folks-friendly rock element to it and, like their East Coast Godfather Rick Rubin before them, label head/producers Matt Dike and Michael Ross scored hit after hit with the formula. Dike and Ross catapulted Tone Loc to temporary pop stardom with some Van Halen (“Jamie’s Crying”) on “Wild Thing” and some Stones (“Honky Tonk Women”) on “Funky Cold Medina.” They took the rock route too (though perhaps funk rock would be a more apt descriptor) with “Bust A Move” by Young MC, the author of Loc’s twin hits. But the primary sample, “Found a Child” by Seattle’s Ballin’jack, while less recognizable, proved to be just as effective, crossing over to pop radio and winning the otherwise hitless Young the second-ever rap Grammy. “Never Let Em Say,” another track from the same album by Ballin’jack, whose members would go on to join Santana and War, can be heard in Gang Starr’s “Step Into the Arena” and Double X Posse’s “Not Gonna Be Able to Do It.” Ballin'.

25. Trick Daddy f/ Lil Jon & Twista "Let's Go" (2004)

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Sample: Ozzy Osbourne "Crazy Train" (1980)
Album: Thug Matrimony: Married to the Streets
Producer: Jim Jonsin
Label: Atlantic/Slip-n-Slide

Trick Daddy's raps are pretty much the opposite of highbrow but the 305 Mayor has always stocked his albums with challenging production. He's reinterpolated the Talking Heads' "Sugar On My Tongue" for '05's "Sugar (Gimme Some)" and sampled Sting's "Shape of My Heart" (on "Living in a World," from, and even taken a stab at a hip-hop version of one of the most iconic hard rock songs ever, in Ozzy's "Crazy Train." It's not our favorite Trick song but, thanks to an assist from rap rock scientist Jim Jonsin, we feel safe saying Randy Rhoads—the late guitarist behind "Crazy Train's" classic riff—isn't rolling over in his grave.

24. Brand Nubian "Slow Down" (1990)

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Sample: Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians "What I Am" (1988)
Album: One For All
Producer: Grand Puba & Brand Nubian
Label: Elektra

Dallas jam band Edie Brickell & New Bohemians will always have a place on one-hit wonder countdowns thanks to "What I Am," a slice of '60s-style hippie rock that made its way to Miami Vice, Doogie Howser and the Billboard Top 10 in the late 1980s. Brand Nubian, one of the greatest rap groups of all time, used the song's Jerry Garcia-style guitar riff on "Slow Down," one of the best and most commercially successfully singles in their sizable catalog, and a centerpiece of their classic debut, One For All.

23. ScHoolboy Q f/ A$AP Rocky "Hands On The Wheel" (2011)

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Sample: Lissie "Pursuit Of Happiness" (2011)
Album: Habits & Contradictions
Producer: Best Kept Secret
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment

In a weird twist highlighting indie rock and hip-hop's increasing coziness with one another, folk-y singer Lissie's live cover of Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" in turn became the inspiration for Schoolboy Q's breakout hit, "Hands on the Wheel." Figures that a white girl would be the connecting factor between two wildly different rap songs that both contain explicity references to coke use.

22. Cypress Hill "Ain't Goin' Out Like That" (1993)

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Sample: Black Sabbath “The Wizard” (1970)
Album: Black Sunday
Producer: T-Ray
Label: Ruffhouse/Columbia

Years before they went full-on “nu-metal,” Cypress Hill, which had begun developing a rock fanbase after collaborating with Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth on 1991’s Judgment Night soundtrack, hinted at the heaviness in their future with “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That,” which got its dark feel from samples of Black Sabbath’s “Wicked World” and “The Wizard.” Black Sunday's second single (the first being "Insane in the Membrane," which also proved popular with rock listeners) also marked the beginning of a similar transition for producer Todd “T-Ray” Ray, who was previously best known for producing Double X Posse’s “Not Gonna Be Able to Do” and MC Serch’s “Back to the Grill,” but would later go on to work with 311, Korn, White Zombie and Santana, among others.

21. Talib Kweli "Get By" (2002)

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Sample: Love "Doggone" (1969)
Album: Quality
Producer: Kanye West
Label: Rawkus

Led by the charismatic Arthur Lee, the Los Angeles-based Love were one of the first major racially diverse pop/rock bands, predating the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Sly and the Family Stone. Buried deep in their 12-minute-long "Doggone" is the drum break used by Kanye West as the basis for Talib Kweli's biggest hit, "Get By."

20. Gucci Mane "Lemonade" (2009)

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Sample: Flo and Eddie "Keep It Warm" (1976)
Album: The State vs. Radric Davis
Producer: Bangladesh
Label: 1017 Brick Squad/Asylum/Warner Bros.

Technology has advanced to where skilled producers no longer need to deal with the hassle of sampling—they can mimic the desired parts from the original to the point where hardly anyone can tell the difference. Point in case: the piano stabs from Gucci Mane’s crossover hit “Lemonade” sound like a sped up sample of a similar part in “Keep It Warm” by Flo and Eddie, the ‘70s-era project from Turtles founders Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (and are generally identified as such), but it’s suggested by several sources on the Internet that producer Bangladesh just did a really good job of recreating it. It sounds like the real thing to us, but Bangladesh turned a clip of A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg scatting in patois into the boogieman voice on “A Milli,” so, in his hands, perhaps anything’s possible.

19. Eminem "Sing For The Moment" (2003)

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Sample: Aerosmith "Dream On" (1973)
Album: The Eminem Show
Producer: Eminem
Label: Shady/Aftermath/Interscope

For "Sing for the Moment," his answer to critics of his violent lyrical content, Eminem tapped into the don dada of power ballads, in Aerosmith's "Dream On." The result was an appropriately moody beat for one of the grandest statements on Marshall's third LP, The Eminem Show.

18. Tone Loc "Wild Thing" (1989)

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Sample: Van Halen “Jamie’s Crying” (1978)
Album: Loc-ed After Dark
Producer: Matt Dike, Michael Ross
Label: Delicious Vinyl

Few people would call famously tight assed guitar god Eddie Van Halen "funky," even if he did play the guitar solo on MJ's "Beat It," but how else to describe his riff from '78's "Jamie's Cryin," especially after Delicious Vinyl's Matt Dike and Michael Ross got done with it? Loops of the riff and Alex Van Halen's drum fill tease each other in a beat that proved to be the perfect sound bed for Tone Loc's tales of doing the "Wild Thing," launching the future voice actor's fleeting career as one of hip-hop's most successful pre-"Can't Touch This" pop ambassadors.

17. Kanye West "Champion" (2007)

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Sample: Steely Dan “Kid Charlemagne” (1976)
Album: Graduation
Producer: Kanye West
Label: Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella

According to a 2007 interview, Kanye West secured clearance to use Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne" for Graduation's "Champion" by writing the band's Donald Fagen a heartfelt letter explaining the importance of the song and his desire to use it as a means of addressing his relationship with his father. "Living artists [have] learned to trust the Kanye brand," 'Ye told Spin, of his ability to secure samples from picky and prestigious major acts like (a then still breathing) Michael Jackson and Elton John, both also sampled on Graduation. "They know their sample is not gonna be placed with some quote-unquote booty video." Or at least it would be booty video with high art aspirations, like the one for Graduation's "Flashing Lights."

16. Ultramagnetic MCs "Traveling at the Speed of Thought" (1987)

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Sample: Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Women" (1969) / The Kingsmen "Louie Louie" (1957)
Album: Critical Beatdown
Producer: Paul C. / Ced Gee
Label: Next Plateau

Though his name is known to few, the late Paul “Paul C.” McKasty was one of the most important figures in the development of sampling. Before he introduced techniques like the "chop" and "pan" with his work on the Ultramagnetic MC’s Critical Beatdown LP, McKasty played in a rock band called Mandolindley Road Show and, like Rick Rubin, another white guy who’d made the transition from rocking out with guitars to building hip-hop beats, he knew how to tastefully incorporate rock into rap records. For the original 12” version of Ultramagnetic’s “Traveling at the Speed of Thought” (a different mix appeared on Critical Beatdown) Paul blended the signature cowbell drums from the Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Women," a popular breakbeat at early hip-hop park jams, with the signature riff from the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" and his own guitar work. The result sounds crude today but, back when it was recorded in ‘87, it was light years ahead.

15. M.I.A. "Paper Planes" (2007)

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Sample: The Clash "Straight to Hell" (1982)
Album: Kala
Producer: Diplo
Label: XL/Interscope

This could be a controversial pick since M.I.A. isn't a rapper in the purest sense, but then again if she's not a rapper what is she? She certainly spits on "Paper Planes," and it's the dopest track to flip a sample by the Clash, one of the first rock acts (along with Blondie) to embrace hip-hop in the early '80s (and arguably the greatest punk band of all-time). The "hip-hopness" of Diplo's beat is equally evident, if not just by listening to then by the sheer number of rappers who freestyled on the riddim after the single took off in 2008.

14. De La Soul "Eye Know" (1989)

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Sample: Steely Dan “Peg” (1977)
Album: Three Feet High and Rising
Producer: Prince Paul
Label: Tommy Boy

Made a dozen years and a coast apart by groups in vastly different stages of their careers, Steely Dan’s Aja and De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising have a few things in common. They’re both the best-known and best-selling albums by cult acts whose fans—and members—generally feel they have waaay better albums. And they’re tied together by “Peg,” the Aja song with the deceptively chipper keyboard part used on 3 Feet’s “Eye Know.” 3 Feet High is basically one big pot of out-of-the-box samples but, along with Hall and Oates’ “I Cant’ Go For That” on “Say No Go,” the “Peg” lift is one of the ones that really stood out for people then, as now.

13. Black Sheep "Similak Child" (1991)

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Sample: Jefferson Airplane "Today" (1967)
Album: A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
Producer: Black Sheep
Label: Mercury

If your parents (or grandparents) were baby boomers, they probably had a few Jefferson Airplane LPs lying around at some point. The Grace Slick-fronted San Francisco band (later to be known as Starship, of Mannequin soundtrack fame) are to aging former hippies what Grateful Dead are to aging unrepentant hippies: the voice of their generation and the soundtrack playing in their reoccurring acid flashbacks. While we imagine the large majority of Jefferson Airplane LPs are collecting dust in attics somewhere, Dres and Mr. Lawnge of Black Sheep put the opening harmonics from "Today," a track off of '68's Surrealistic Pillow, to good use on "Similak Child," easily one of the best songs from their 1991 debut A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing not called "The Choice Is Yours."

12. OutKast "Da Art of Storytellin (Part 2)" (1998)

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Sample: Camel "Spirit of the Water" (1976)
Album: Aquemini
Producer: Mr. DJ
Label: LaFace/Arista

It's now in vogue to sample progressive rock but, as they were in so many arenas, OutKast were way ahead of the game on this one. Organized Noise laced Big Boi and Dre with some noise from prog rock godfathers Soft Machine all the way back on "Peaches," the intro from their first album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. For 'Kast's definitive third album Aquemini, the highly underrated Mr. DJ dug way into the catalog of British band Camel, later a favorite of J Dilla, haunting "Da Art of Storytellin (Part 2") with pianos from the creepy "Spirit of the Water," and sampling another Camel track called "Air Born," on "Y'All Scared" with Goodie Mob. Shiiit, 'Kast used even some Genesis ("Dancing with the Moonlit Knight") for the funky instrumental "SpottieOttieDopalicious," didya know that?

11. Run-DMC f/ Aerosmith "Walk This Way" (1986)

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Sample: Aerosmith "Walk This Way" (1975)
Album: Raising Hell
Producer: Rick Rubin
Label: Profile/Arista

Run-DMC's landmark 1986 remake of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" isn’t as sample-based as you may think: Steven Tyler and Joe Perry re-recorded their parts specifically for the new version, while producer Rick Rubin recreated the original’s distinctive drum pattern on a drum machine. Only the cowbells that appear momentarily in the middle of the song actually came from the original. Still, this was the song that brought hip-hop to middle America, the initial collaboration between a major rap and rock act and the first rap song to reach the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

10. EPMD "It's My Thing" (1988) / J Dilla "Stepson of the Clapper" (2006)

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Sample: Mountain “Long Red (Live)” (1972)
Album: Strictly Business / Donuts
Producer: Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith / J Dilla
Label: Fresh, Sleeping Bag Records / Stones Throw

If you’ve listened to hip-hop for more than 15 minutes in your life, you’ve heard the guttural sound of a man shouting “Louder!” at least a few times. The soundbyte in question comes from the live version of “Long Red” on Mountain Live: The World Goes On, by New York hard rock outfit, Mountain. EPMD were the first to use snippets of vocalist Leslie West hyping a crowd on their debut single “It’s My Thing”; that same year another Long Island duo, Sport G and Mastermind, featured the sample even more prominently on a track called “Louder.” The drum break at the beginning of “Long Red,” meanwhile, has turned up in numerous tracks including Common’s “The People” and J Dilla’s “Stepson of the Clapper,” perhaps the best showcase of the break in all its booming glory.

9. Fabolous "Breathe" (2004)

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Sample: Supertramp “Crime of the Century” (1974)
Album: Real Talk
Producer: Just Blaze
Label: Atlantic

Just Blaze’s greatest skill as a producer is perhaps his ability to make songs that feel like both the club and the stadium. Given his wont for big, lighter-raising beats and his ear for sussing out unlikely samples, you’d think rock song jacks would show up often in his oeuvre, but surprisingly they don’t. One instance where Just did turn to the guitar gods for inspiration was Fabolous’ “Breathe,” which pulls pianos, drums and vocals from Supertramp’s “Crime of the Century,” the title track from the prog/art/space rockers’ third album. Fab has had bigger hits in his career, commercially speaking, but perhaps none more definitive than “Breathe.” Ohhh!

8. Biz Markie "Nobody Beats the Biz" (1987)

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Sample: The Steve Miller Band “Fly Like an Eagle" (1976)
Album: Goin’ Off
Producer: Marley Marl
Label: Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros.

Marley Marl doesn’t get nearly enough credit from people anymore. In his era, QB’s finest producer was a more integral part of hip-hop than even Dre, Premo or Kanye were in theirs, pioneering the use of sample-based drum programming, and then changing the game over and over with tracks like “The Bridge,” “Eric B. Is President,” “The Symphony,” “Ain’t No Half Steppin” and “Mama Said Knock You Out.”

There should be a monument of the Juice Crew don dada when you come off the Queens bound exit of the Qboro bridge, for damn sake. Get crackin’, Bloomberg. Though Marley never met a James Brown sample he didn’t love, helping make the Godfather’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield the most ubiquitous element of late ‘80s hip-hop, he was known to pull from rock and roll, too.

For Biz Mark’s “Nobody Beats the Wiz,” he looped up "Hihache,” by Paris-based American expatriates Lafayette Afro Rock Band, soon to be an ubiquitous break in its own right, then gave the song its trippy flavor with dueling loops from the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle.”

Throw in some of Biz’s best quotables (“Reagan is the prez but I voted for Shirley Chisholm”), beatboxing, and Nate Dogg/T-Pain forefather TJ Swann’s off-key impression of the jingle by now-defunct NYC electronics chain Nobody Beats the Wiz, and you have a tune that’s both timeless and a quirky relic of an era gone by. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo!

6. Warren G f/ Nate Dogg "Regulate" (1994)

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Sample: Michael McDonald “I Keep Forgetting (Every Time You’re Near)” (1982)
Album: Regulate...G-Funk Era
Producer: Warren G
Label: Def Jam/Death Row/Interscope

You’re more likely to hear Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgetting (Every Time You’re Near)” on lite FM than your local classic rock station but salt-and-pepper-haired smooth crooner “Michael Mac” earned his rock-and-roll stripes as the frontman for the Doobie Brothers (albeit in their more commercial later incarnation). In any case, Warren G’s flip of “I Keep Forgetting” for his Nate Dogg-assisted debut solo single “Regulate” was badass. “Regulate” was a staple of the G-Funk era but it couldn’t have happened without the captain of yacht rock.

5. Beastie Boys "Rhymin' and Stealin'" (1986) / Beastie Boys "She's Crafty" (1986)

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Sample: Led Zeppelin “When the Levee Breaks” (1971) / Led Zeppelin "The Ocean" (1973)
Album: Licensed to Ill
Producer: Rick Rubin
Label: Def Jam

If one person can be said to embody the spirit of both rap and rock and roll, it's Rick Rubin. The Long Beach, Long Island native played in punk bands as a teen before diving headfirst into hip-hop while at NYU, launching Def Jam Records in his dormroom and producing T La Rock's revolutionary "It Yours" in 1984. During a three-year period (which ended when he parted ways with Russell Simmons and Def Jam, forming Def American Recordings, and shifting his production energies to metal acts like Slayer and Danzig) Rubin changed the game for hip-hop over and over.

Signing LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy to Def Jam and overseeing prodction for LL and the Beasties' Radio and Licensed to Ill, respectively, as well as Run-DMC's Raising Hell, each successive release under Rubin's watch took hip-hop's sound in a more aggressive direction, generally to great commercial success. Working often with samples or interpolations of hard rock songs loved by young, white male listeners—soon to be rap's biggest consumers—Rubin successfully packaged black ghetto music for middle America.

The apotheosis of his efforts was the Beastie Boys' 1986 debut Licensed to Ill, which broke hip-hop onto rock radio for the first time with "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" and "No Sleep Til Brooklyn," positioning Ad Rock, MCA and Mike D. as hip-hop's first white stars and a new sort of arena rock act.

Fittingly, Led Zeppelin, the ultimate arena rock band, were sampled twice on Licensed to Ill. John Bonham's booming drums from "When the Levee Breaks" (overlaid with an interpolation of Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" guitar riff) anchored the menacing opening track, "Rhyming and Stealing" while "She's Crafty" began with a fleeting but attention-grabbing clip of Jimmy Page's guitar lead from "The Ocean."

5. Jay-Z "Takeover" (2001)

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Sample: The Doors' "Five to One" (1968)
Album: The Blueprint
Producer: Kanye West
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam

For a track that was never released as a single, Jay-Z's “Takeover” was massive. One of the best-loved tracks on an album, The Blueprint, regarded by many as the best by a rapper many regard as the best—and the highlight of one of rap’s most famed beefs (Nas vs. Hov)—“Takeover” was also among several Kanye West productions on The Blueprint (the others being “H to the Izzo,” “Heart of the City” and “Never Change”) that announced the future superstar’s arrival as a producer. But mostly "Takeover" just sounded huge, a credit to both ‘Ye’s handiwork and the raw elements (Ray Manzarek’s thick bass synthesizer groove, Jim Morrison’s animalistic shout) he copped from the Doors’ “Five to One.” Come on!

4. A Tribe Called Quest "Can I Kick It?" (1990)

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Sample: Lou Reed “Walk on the Wild Side” (1972)
Album: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths to Rhythm
Producer: A Tribe Called Quest
Label: Jive

“Walk on the Wild Side,” Lou Reed’s epic ballad of the trannies, hookers and junkies who hung out at Andy Warhol's Factory, co-produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, must have sounded pretty out there when it dropped in 1972. Among the reasons being the twin, interlocking bass lines played by session musician Herb Flowers. In an interview years later, Flowers said he used two basses because, as a session player, he’d get paid double for using two instruments. Damn, that’s hip-hop.

As it turned out, those bass lines locked perfectly with the drum break from Dr. Lonnie Smith’s “Spinning Wheel” when A Tribe Called Quest looped it up 18 years later for “Can I Kick It?.” Tribe’s third single, too, sounded like nothing else at the time, giving Tip, Phife, and Ali Shaheed one of their best loved tunes, and inspiring a run of beat bites from Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, among others.

3. Kool G Rap and DJ Polo "Road to the Riches" (1989)

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Sample: Billy Joel “Stiletto” (1978)
Album: Road to the Riches
Producer: Marley Marl
Label: Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros.

“Some nights I shed a tear while I said a prayer/Been through hard times, even worked part time/In a seafood store sweeping floors sometimes/I was sort of a porter taking the next man's orders...” Lawd, Kool G. Rap ‘s wordplay on “Road to the Riches” was just ridiculous. But the Juice Crew’s Corona, Queens consigliere, who pioneered what we’d come to call mafioso rap with his tales on “Road to the Riches,” probably wouldn’t have come off as nice without the pianos from Billy Joel’s “Stiletto” that Marley Marl hooked up for the occasion.

Calling it his favorite sample flip of all-time (and one of the tracks that inspired him to be a producer), El-P perhaps put “Road to the Riches”—and “Stiletto”—best when he recently told ego trip: “That piano line is just savage.” Like the Piano Man and his patrons in Billy Joel’s song of the same name, that melody definitely had hip-hop feeling alright.

2. Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz "Deja Vu" (1998)

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Sample: Steely Dan “Black Cow” (1977)
Album: Make It Reign
Producer: KNS
Label: Columbia

Known for their complex arrangements and perfectionism in the studio (they used over 40 musicians and 11 engineers for 1980's Gaucho, an album that only contained seven songs), Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Walter Becker hardly seem like the type of guys who'd be impressed by a hip-hop track jacked from one of their songs. But the duo seem to love Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz's "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)." There's even video (from the "Classic Albums" documentary series) of Fagen singing along to "Deja Vu" while discussing the making of "Black Cow," the Aja track which lent the '98 summer anthem its signature bass line.

The only true hit from the BX duo who reminded us that "if it wasn't for the Bronx, this rap shit probably wouldn't be goin' on," "Deja Vu" was produced by Brian Kierulf and Joshua Schwartz of KNS Productions, who would soon leave hip-hop behind for presumably more lurcrative work with Britney Spears and, later, Lady Gaga. But they're surely still cashing checks from "Deja Vu," which topped the rap singles chart and hit No. 9 on the Hot 100 in '98, and remains a staple at hip-hop parties worldwide. Uptown, baby!

1. Run-DMC "Here We Go" (1983) / UTFO "Roxanne, Roxanne" (1984) / Big Daddy Kane "Ain't No Half Steppin" (1988) / A Tribe Called Quest "We Can Get Down" (1993) / Jay-Z "99 Problems" (2003) / Dizzee Rascal "Fix Up, Look Sharp" (2003)

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Sample: Billy Squier “Big Beat” (1980)
Album: Run-DMC / UTFO / Long Live the Kane / Midnight Mauraders / The Black Album / Boy in Da Corner
Producer: Run-DMC / Full Force / Marley Marl / A Tribe Called Quest / Rick Rubin / Dizzee Rascal
Label: Profile Records/Select Records/Cold Chillin'/Jive/Roc-A-Fella/XL Recordings

Arena rocker Billy Squier—best known in his day for the self-explanatory “Stroke Me”—liked his drums loud and high up in the mix, never more so than on 1980’s aptly titled “Big Beat.”

Programmed recreations of the “Big Beat” drums appeared on numerous records in the mid ‘80s, notably UTFO’s “Roxanne, Roxanne” and Roxanne Shante’s career-launching answer record “Roxanne’s Revenge,” but the first use of the honest-to-goodness real thing was probably Run-DMC’s “Here We Go,” recorded live at NYC club the Funhouse in ‘85.

Samples of the “Big Beat” drums appeared on numerous records in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, including A Tribe Called Quest’s “We Can Get Down,” while Marley Marl cut Squier’s exhortation to “Get on down” into Big Daddy Kane’s classic mission statement “Ain’t No Half Steppin.’”

The drums were revived yet again in ‘03 by Dizzee Rascal for “Fix Up, Look Up Sharp,” (which also used other elements of the song, namely Squier's "Wooohh!!!" shout) and Rick Rubin, on Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” the rap rock pioneer's first hip-hop production in 15 years. True to its name, “Big Beat” is definitely one of the biggest beats in hip-hop history.

In total, it's been sampled on rap tracks around 135 times.

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