What’s That Sample? is VIBE Staff Writer Marc Griffin’s analytical segment that decodes hit songs, fan-favorite deep cuts, and the songs that sample and, in some instances, cover them.
Patti LaBelle is celebrating her 79th birthday and continues to captivate millions with her intoxicating voice.
Famously known as the “Godmother of Soul,” Patti’s sound is known for its endearing gospel ballads, classic rhythm and blues arrangements, and timeless pop hits. With her wide vocal range, the legend has landed 16 songs on the Billboard 100, including her #1 hit “On My Own” with Michael McDonald.
To help honor the icon on her special day, VIBE lists some of Hip-Hop and R&B’s most notable songs that sampled LaBelle’s illustrious discography.
Kanye West - "Home" (feat. John Legend)
Kanye West’s 2002 track, “Home,” featuring John Legend, samples Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelle’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The Bluebelle’s track, which appears on their 1963 album, Sweethearts of the Apollo, is one of the group’s seminal tracks. Ye repurposed the group’s gooey harmonies for the skeleton of his cut, which would never officially see the light of day. Due to a major LP leak, Ye and Roc-A-Fella edited the project that would become The College Dropout, adding new tracks to give fans a new experience.
Unfortunately, “Home” was one of the tracks scrapped from the album. The song was an extended metaphor about a woman named Windy, representing his hometown of Chicago, who Ye expresses his love for. Sound familiar? West would recycle the concept for Graudation’s “Homecoming,” featuring Coldplay’s Chris Martin. The reworked version would peak at #69 on the Billboard 100.
Nelly - "Dilemma" (feat. Kelly Rowland)
Another track that debuted in 2002, Nelly’s “Dilemma,” was a smash hit that samples Auntie Patti’s “Love, Need And Want You.” The GRAMMY-nominated track was produced by Antoine “Bam” Macon and peaked at #1 on the Billboard 100, remaining at the top spot for ten non-consecutive weeks. “Dilemma,” which featured Kelly Rowland, also became the St. Louis emcee’s first #1 record in countries such as Germany, Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Furthermore, the Nellyville smash remains the duo’s highest charting and selling single, with the record selling over 7 million copies, according to ET Canada. Oh, and if you watch the video to the timeless song closely, you’ll see cameos from former NBA star Larry Hughes and Patti LaBelle herself.
Plies - "Somebody Loves You"
“The Godmother of Soul’s” 1991 album Burnin’ peaked at #71 on the Billboard 200, yielding the hit single “Somebody Loves You.” Plies would repurpose the track 17 years later for his album cut of the same name from his sophomore LP, Definition of Real. The Rodnae-produced single was a different side of Plies at the time, with the lyrical performance showing love to those “who done lost a trial.”
While the song didn’t garner the same commercial success as “Bust it Baby Part 2” and “Please Excuse My Hands,” it did, however, cultivate a cult following with his core fanbase. One YouTube user cited the song as a saving grace that prevented them from taking their own life.
“This song stopped me from committing suicide at the darkest time in my life,” the user typed about the song’s official video. “I don’t care what anybody says, Plies deserves all the respect.”
Erick Sermon - "Erick Sermon"
The self-titled single from Erick Sermon’s debut album, No Pressure, contained elements of Patti LaBelle’s “On My Own.” However, instead of the usual chopped-up vocal sample technique, Sermon opted to interpolate a portion of the Queen’s hook during his verse.
“This is my openin, E comin at ya lazy style/Versatile, crazy wild with my profile/Dominatin the microphone, on my own,” he spits, referencing LaBelle’s vocal performance. “Freakin it, with the ill vocal tone/Outspoken, here’s a token of my appreciation/I bring drama like Jason/Who can see me? You better ask Superman.”
Sermon’s self-titled cut wasn’t a single and didn’t chart, but his No Pressure LP did have its own success story. No Pressure peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Raekwon - "Glaciers of Ice" (feat. Ghostface Killah, Blue Raspberry, Masta Killah, 60 Second Assassin)
Hey, one thing about the RZA, he gon chop a soul sample. And it’s no different with “Glaciers of Ice,” one of the many standout tracks from Raekwon’s magnum opus, Only Built For Cuban Links. The track features the Philadelphia native’s “Over the Rainbow,” which itself is a cover of the famous Wizard of Oz ballad. Patti’s version on her fifth studio album, The Spirits In It, contains a triumphant solo performance from the songstress, which RZA would weaponize for his Wu warriors.
“Glaciers of Ice,” which features Ghostface Killah, Blue Raspberry, Masta Killah, and 60 Second Assassin, was released as a double a-side in ’95 alongside “Criminology.” Rae and co. kick the rhymes in classic Wu-Tang fashion, referencing bars about the original man, martial arts flicks, and the Clan operating like an organized crime family.
SWV- "If Only You Knew"
While the next song isn’t a sample, SWV’s “If Only You Knew” cover is strong enough to land comfortably on this list. The “Sisters With Voices” put their spin on LaBelle’s classic hit with their signature silky runs and harmonious, liquified vocals.
Taj, Coko, and Lelee struck gold with their spin on the R&B masterpiece, cementing the track into the genre’s canon. In fact, the track was so beloved that the trio of ladies was nominated for a GRAMMY award for Best Traditional R&B Performance — the same category that Auntie Patti was the first R&B artist to be nominated for and win in 1999.
SWV’s rendition was released on their fifth studio album, I Missed Us, with Carvin & Ivan, Michael Clemons, and Bryan-Michael Cox handling production. According to Billboard, their first album in over a decade debuted at #25 on the Billboard 200 and #6 on Billboard’s Top R&B & Hip-Hop Albums chart, moving 14,000 units in its debut week.
Lloyd - "Lay It Down"
Released in 2010, Lloyd dropped off the playful Polow da Don-produced “Lay It Down.” The track samples “Love, Need and Want You,” using the original’s opening crescendo as its musical foundation. “Lay It Down” received an official video directed by Mickey Finnegan and premiered on BET’s iconic 106 & Park video show, peaking at #4 on the countdown. On the Billboard 100 and Billboard’s Top Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, the song peaked at #64 and #7, respectively.
Three official remixes were created for the King of Heart’s track to capitalize on its success. However, it was the third remix, “Lay It Down Part II—A Tribute to the Legends,” featuring Patti LaBelle herself, that became a fan-favorite. The soul songstress stole the show with her performance, paying tribute to late singers Aretha Franklin and Teena Marie.