Sampling can either break or make a record. But when there's a head-nodding, stank-face inducing and shoulder-moving communion between the sounds of today and the melodic gems of yesterday, its hit-worthy goodness cannot be denied. And when that auditory fusion hits a pair of eardrums, nostalgic feelings of happiness are sure to overcome any listener.
Now that the year 2017 has finally hit the halfway mark of the year (July 2), we at VIBE decided to take a look back at all the musical contributions artists have released (between December 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017), and highlight 17 stand-out tracks that dug in the crates and pulled out former sounds for the youth to get hip to.
“Family Feud” -JAY-Z
On “Hey Ya (Eternal Life),” legendary gospel group The Clark Sisters sing of life and the man upstairs in perfect harmony. Elbernita "Twinkie" Clark-Terrell provides context to their chant of “hey ya,” (pronounced hi-ya), used widely in the gospel world. Their influence was clearly felt on JAY-Z’s 4:44 with the track used in the Beyonce-assisted “Family Feud.” With elements of family, love and life throughout Jay’s bars, we’re teleported to church thanks to the sample and Bey’s vocals. With their faith carrying them through the ups and downs of life, we know there's a special message in the gospel for all of us.– Desire Thompson
The sample taken from Moodymann’s birthday mix is one of the more uniquely used ones on the list. The musician's brief ad-lib on the 2010 celebration provides the lounge-vibe of the More Life cut. It’s as if we’re all prepping for the turn-up, thanks to “Passionfruit.” The sample gives the song more life, playing a necessary component in its quality. - Mark Braboy
“To The Max” - Drake & DJ Khaled
Modern sounds from all over the world find their way to to DJ Khaled’s Grateful cut, “To The Max.” With Drake at the wheel, New Jersey’s club sound, mixed with UK’s infatuation with baselines in the early 2000’s, makes up a for a massive hit for the longtime duo. Miami’s jookin movement also finds its way into the pot with the interpolation of Jay O’s “Gus Get Em Right” and MajorNine's "Get Em Right." The journey is a long one, but it landed “To The Max” at the top of the charts the first week of its release. - Tony Centeno
“Nice & Slow” – Ball Greezy featuring Lil Dred
The spirit of Freddie Jackson thrives on the airwaves through Ball Greezy’s “Nice & Slow,” a standout track from his Valentine’s Day-themed mixtape, Bae Day. Greezy loops Jackson’s track of the same name, giving it a jolt of lit proportions. Jackson has been an inspiration to hip-hop legends for decades, from Brand Nubian to DMX. It’s nothing short of amazing to see newer artists like Ball Greezy embrace his legacy in 2017. - TC
“Whatever You Need” - Meek Mill
Taking on a R&B classic isn’t as easy as it appears. Meek Mill’s “Whatever You Want” features a hard-to-ignore melody from Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “Whatever You Want.” The 1990 single has been sampled a few times in the rap game, from Lil Wayne to Ludacris. Smooth and inviting, Meek, Chris and Ty do a great service to their admirers and R&B lovers. - DT
“In My Feelings” – Kehlani
The great thing about Kehlani’s standout track, “In My Feelings” is its connection to New Edition. The chorus of New Edition’s timeless classic “If It Isn’t Love” is flipped into a techno/pop driven melody– without compromising its soulful roots. And while the theme of the songs are slightly different, Kehlani masterfully uses the original hook’s untapped universal appeal to convey her frustrations with a relationship going sour, despite still having feelings for him. All in all, Kehlani beautifully re-appropriates New Edition’s message and theme from “If It Isn’t Love” and revisits it for a new generation. –MB
"Crying In The Club" – Camila Cabello
Pop’s discourse continues to rely on the focal points of love, heartbreak and living free. This notion is felt through Camila Cabello’s stirring single, “Crying In The Club.” The budding pop star found inspiration through pop icon and fellow Latina Christina Aguilera. If you listen closely, the songs share the same hook, bringing another layer to the dynamic hit. From breaking out of Fifth Harmony to enjoying collaborations with Major Lazer, Cabello’s clever connections to pop’s elite makes her artistic journey that much sweeter. -DT
“Tunnel Vision” - Kodak Black
Kodak Black’s “Tunnel Vision” samples “El Aparecido,” by Chilean folk music ensemble Inti-Illimani. The Metro Boomin and Southside-produced record speaks to Kodak’s personal life of struggle and a system corrupted by its government, while the band – also political in nature – sing a tune of rebellion and flight. "Tunnel Vision" currently sits at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, after going platinum on June 7. -Marjua Estevez
“Shape Of You” - Ed Sheeran
Upon the release of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You,” music heads couldn’t help the similarities in the island-like track bared a similar melody to TLC’s “No Scrubs.” Turns out they were right. Xscape members Kandi Burruss and Tameka “Tiny” Harris, the songwriters behind the hit, were given credit after Sheeran admitted he borrowed the melody from the iconic single.
Either way, we were given the ability to jam to two great hits with similar melodies, yet different vibes. While it may seem tedious to some to mention the writers on something as “simple” as a melody, they are artists and they’re “sensitive about their sh*t.” - Ashley Pickens
“DNA” - Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. features nearly a crateful of samples with some younger than its chart existence (Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic”/ “Loyalty”) and others, older than the artist. Aside from its conservative news clips, “DNA’s” musical makeup includes the late Rick James from his live performance of “Mary Jane” in 1982. The legend appeared on the long running German music series Rockpalast and shouted, “Gimme some ganja” before diving into to the hit single. That of course was an ode to the track and Bob Marley, who died the year before.
Mike Will Made It pairs the looped line perfectly with Kendrick’s unruly second verse, leading us all to damage the replay button. - DT
“Mask Off” - Future
Future’s bubbling hit "Mask Off" samples Tommy Butler’s "Prison Song," which lives on the Selma album. The two records couldn’t be more opposite in context, but the rapper’s rags-to-riches trap saga is set against the spine of a poignant call-to-redemption, which proved to be a brilliant syrupy concoction, and infectious long enough to climb the charts, sitting at No. 1 on Rhythmic Songs, No. 2 on both Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop and Rap Airplay, and No. 3 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay. - ME
"Rain On Me” - Bryson Tiller
While Bryson Tiller has undoubtedly paved the way for the new sub-genre, "trap soul", his introduction single to his sophomore album, “Rain on Me,” veers more towards his R&B and soul roots. Even within the first 10 seconds of the track, Bryson opens as any cliché R&B song of the 90s would, with the sound of a rain storm pouring down, presenting an ominous and somber tone. On the intro, he samples SWV’s 1997 single, “Rain” and mashes it up, adding a set of layered snare and drum instrumentals.
The beat is no longer recognizable as a soothing 90s ballad, but offers a trap sound that isn’t confined to heartthrobs and hopeless romantics. “Rain on Me” is a tribute to the old school, while a representation of the new direction that R&B is entering. True to Self may have not performed well in terms of numbers, but Bryson was able to execute something right in production. – Jessica McKinney
"Deja Vu" - J. Cole
K. P. & Envyi lives on in another form, thanks to J. Cole. Although last year was filled with the #RunningManChallenge social media takeover starring the millennial hyper-speed version of the '90s dance move, the Fayetteville, North Carolina MC combated the fickle wave in the classiest way possible - by fusing the 1998 chart-climbing record "Swing My Way" into his 4 Your Eyez Only track "Deja Vu."
On the original K.P. & Envyi collaboration, you're taken into the mind of a woman who's enjoying a night on the town and spots a guy on the dancefloor. She's liking what she sees and with limited time at this club she wants him to know the best way she can. On the 4 Your Eyez Only track, you're taken into the mind of a man who's feeling a young lady who he wishes could see that the grass is greener (and spreads out further) on his side of the fence. Tasteful and relatable, Cole. - Christine Imarenezor
SAMPLE: "Swing My Way" - K.P & Envyi
In the grand scheme of things, one may not realize how Migos immortalized Shawty Lo’s “Seventeen-five,same color T-Shirt” on the group’s second single, “T-Shirt.” The line stems from D4L’s trapped out classic, “I’m Da Man.”
One of the best uses of a sample on a hip-hop song this year, mainly because of the close aesthetic. Both give vivid and gritty looks into the jungle that is the Atlanta trap culture, albeit “T-Shirt” having a slightly darker tone. In a surreal way, the use of the sample along after Lo’s passing comes off as if he passed the torch to Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff to carry on the legacy of trap music. –MB
“Teenage Love” -Drake
After a series of photos surfaced on social media, rumors started flying that Drake and Jennifer Lopez were dating. While a J.Lo and Drake union would have been epic for the culture, what fans got was far greater. When Drake dropped lengthy playlist, More Life, it was revealed that the two heavyweights collaborated on one single, but not in the way many would have assumed. Instead of original content from the duo, Drizzy lyrically sampled, J.Lo’s 1999 hit, “If You Had My Love” on his record, “Teenage Fever.”
The new track, which was performed by Jorja Smith, beautifully transformed a rhythmic, vintage hip hop tack into a dragged and emotionally-rich R&B songs that catered to Drake’s melodious style of rap. Although the single wasn’t a demonstration of the album’s masterful production, the new track effectively breathed new life into the age old record for this new generation of hip hop listeners. –JM
"Wild Thoughts" Feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller - DJ Khaled
The saucy '00s hit "Maria Maria" (with the assistance by R&B duo The Product G&B) details an irresistible woman who is falling head over heels for a man to the "come hither" strings of a guitar played by Carlos Santana. With DJ Khaled's 2017 re-up of the track nearly two decades later, the lusty vibes still ring true.
While in a lyrical sense, Rihanna and Bryson Tiller are more up-front about their desires, sonically, the use of the steamy sample signals that they'll be taking their time as the "Wild Thoughts" they've been dreaming up come to fruition. Not to mention, the A+ timing of the song's release makes it the perfect anthem for summer lovin'. - J'na Jefferson
SAMPLE: "Maria Maria" Feat. The Product G&B - Santana
"XXX" Feat. U2 - Kendrick Lamar
During a recent panel, VIBE Editor Shenequa Golding said, "You can't listen to hip-hop and not hear James Brown." That statement rings true when it comes to Kendrick Lamar's outstanding DAMN. album, specifically "XXX" (feat. U2). The sample of Brown's 1970s hit "Get Up Offa That Thang" was so minor yet so genius because it speaks to the instrumental ear the late legend possessed. Simply, the horns used to kick-off Brown's song found a new home decades later as a sort of peek-a-boo moment on the eleventh track (once thirty seconds hits). It stood out just enough for those who enjoy digging in the samples crate to discover the origin of the horns and the scratch method that marries funk with hip-hop. James Brown's musical memory continues to live on, even though it might hit you after many listens. - Camille Augustin
SAMPLE: "Get Up Offa That Thing" - James Brown