Some Of The Best Music Samples…Ever

Some Of The Best Music Samples...Ever - Female Original

As a self-confessed music nerd, I’m sure it’ll be no surprise to know that I’m a huge fan of a sample when it comes to music. My love for samples is definitely something I’ve touched upon before on here but…I’ve never actually shared my favourites with you. Since there’s no time like the present, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my all-time favourite (and in my opinion best) music samples. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some new songs in here. Or discover that some of your existing fave tunes have actually come from other songs.

What are music samples?

For any of you who maybe aren’t familiar with the term ‘sample’ or ‘sampling’, when it comes to music, I’ll give you a very quick explanation. Sampling is essentially the use of a part of a sound recording in another sound recording. So, in relation to music, it’s basically when a song uses part of an existing song within itself. It’s that simple. In terms of what qualifies as a sample, it can be anything from a small bit of speech from a song, a specific sound, a certain rhythm or melody, and in some cases entire bars of music. But they haven’t got to be exactly the same as the original song when it comes to how they sound. Samples can be sped up or down, layered up with other sounds, changed in pitch or just slightly adjusted in general.

Sampling is a huge part of hip hop music, and a lot of hip hop songs actually sample classic funk songs. Not only is sampling used in hip hop but it’s developed into a feature of all genres of music including electronic and pop music. If you want to learn more about sampling then feel free to go and check out the full wiki page on the term here.

Some Of The Best Music Samples...Ever - Female Original
Photography by Paulette Wooten via UnSplash.

Some Of The Best Music Samples…Ever: Playlist

There are absolutely hundreds of songs that I could add to this but I’ve limited myself to a not so small 50-song playlist. I’ve set the playlist out so that the most recently released song comes first each time. Which, I’m guessing, will be the tracks that are most familiar to you. The idea is to listen to the sample first and then the original track and learn a bit about where the songs have come from. In some cases, there’s more than one sampled track in the sample chain.

Some Of The Best Music Samples…Ever: Track Listing

  • Hotline Bling – Drake
  • Why Can’t We Live Together – Timmy Thomas
  • On Hold – The xx
  • I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) – Daryl Hall & John Oates
  • i – Kendrick Lamar
  • That Lady, Pts. 1 & 2 – The Isley Brothers
  • Bad Liar – Selena Gomez
  • Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
  • South of the River – Tom Misch
  • Lady – D’Angelo
  • Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse
  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell
  • The Next Episode – Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg
  • The Edge – David McCallum
  • yellow is the color of her eyes – Soccer Mommy
  • California Daze – Peace
  • The Rain SongLed Zeppelin
  • Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It – Will Smith
  • He’s the Greatest Dancer – Sister Sledge
  • Bootylicious – Destiny’s Child
  • Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
  • Ride on Time – Black Box
  • Love Sensation – Loleatta Holloway
  • Favorite Song – Chance The Rapper, Childish Gambino
  • Clean up Woman – Betty Wright
  • Blame Game – Kayne West, John Legend
  • Avril 14th – Aphex Twin
  • Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang
  • Good Times – CHIC
  • Mo Money Mo Problems – The Notorious B.I.G.
  • I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross
  • Blood On The Leaves – Kanye West
  • Strange Fruit – Nina Simone
  • Gold Digger – Kanye West, Jamie Foxx
  • I’ve Got A Woman – Ray Charles
  • Can I Kick It? – A Tribe Called Quest
  • Walk On The Wild Side – Lou Reed
  • U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
  • Super Freak – Rick James
  • No Diggity – Blackstreet, Dr. Dre, Queen Pen
  • Grandma’s Hands – Bill Withers
  • Dilemma – Nelly, Kelly Rowland
  • GhettoMusick – Outkast
  • Love, Need and Want You – Patti LaBelle
  • Arabella – Arctic Monkeys
  • War Pigs – Black Sabbath

Some Of My Favourites From The Playlist

If you’ve read my post all about the best Aretha Franklin songs then you’ll already know that one of my favourite samples is Kanye West’s School Spirit, which samples Aretha Franklin’s Spirit In The Dark. It’s a song that I had no idea was sampled until I ended up listening to ALL of Aretha Franklin’s studio albums as part of my ongoing series The Legend Slot. And boy am I glad I did it. What a discovery!

Kanye is a bit of a sample king if you ask me, which is why there happens to be quite a few of his tracks on here. His sample of Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th on Blame Game (ft. John Legend) is the crossover the world didn’t realise it needed…and it is GLORIOUS. Then of course there’s also the iconic Gold Digger which samples I’ve Got A Woman by Ray Charles, and to top it all off Nina Simone’s Strange Fruit makes an appearance in Kanye’s Blood On The Leaves.

Some More Of My Favourites From The Playlist

It isn’t all about Kanye (and his iconic use of sampling) though! I’ve got plenty of other favourites to talk about, but I’ll pick out just two of them. The first is Tom Misch’s riff sample of Lady by D’Angelo on his track South of the River. The original track is a slow and sensual one, which is absolutely what D’Angelo does best, but Tom Misch picks up the tempo of it completely when he uses it in South of the River. It’s light yet funky and brings a whole new life to the original riff.

The second is Kendrick Lamar’s i which is sampled from That Lady, Pts. 1 & 2 by The Isley Brothers. To be honest I have absolutely no idea which of these two songs I heard first, in my head they’ve always just coexisted. I think this is the one sample where I couldn’t choose between the OG track and the sample. Both are absolutely incredible.

Are you a fan of samples when it comes to music? What are your favourites? Where there any tracks on here that you had no idea where sampled from older songs? Let me know in the comments!

Female Original

Read next: The 25 Songs You Need To Add To Your Walking Playlist

36 thoughts on “Some Of The Best Music Samples…Ever

  1. This is such a unique idea! I love that you laid out the samples followed by music inspired by the samples in a list; that made it much easier for me to know what I was looking at scrolling the playlist. It is so interesting to see how singers and musicians have borrowed from their peers, yet they always manage to add their own personality to their music, even if the tunes are similar.
    Thanks so much for sharing this! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much! Glad the layout helped – I was hoping it’d make sense setting it out like that! πŸ™‚ x

  2. Oooh! It is always interesting to see someone’s take when they sample music. Saweetie sampled some of the 90’s hits and made it her own. I really like Ariana Grade’s 7 rings sampling. Giving her song a modern twist! Thanks for sharing your fave samples!!

    1. I somehow completely forgot about Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings – a great sample! Thanks for sharing some of your favourite samples too πŸ™‚ x

  3. This is an amazing post!! I’m definitely going to listen to your playlist, I love the idea of listening to the sample and then the original!

    1. Thank you so much! I think it’s such a fun way of listening to them – you can really pick out the samples when you’re listening back to back πŸ™‚ x

    1. Ahh I love that! Yeah I think a lot of people don’t realise that there’s an official term for it πŸ™‚ x

  4. Woah this is such an incredible post! I came across music samples a few years ago when owl city produced one! Thanks for sharing I’ll be listening to your playlist x

  5. I was really looking forward to seeing what you picked for this! There were some that I was expecting in here, some I hadn’t thought of at all and some I’m gonna have to relisten to because I had no idea they had samples in them at all? Such a great mix of genres here as well, I love this idea for a post x

    1. Ahh thank you so much! Oooh you’ll have to let me know which ones you didn’t know were sampled. Glad you enjoyed the playlist! x

  6. This was so interesting, I didn’t know what sampling was until reading! You’ve shared some fab songs on your playlist too. I would never have guessed that Kayne would use Aretha Franklin in his music.

  7. I hadn’t heard of this term before, but I certainly recognize it! I love how new music plays homage to older music ! Thanks for this insightful post!

  8. Great post! Thank you for sharing this! As a big music fan as well, I found this really interesting! I like it when modern music uses sampling because it’s so cool! I have listened to a few of these songs from the playlist and I’ll check out some of the ones that I haven’t heard before.

    1. Thank you so much! It’s really interesting to find those connections between modern and older music isn’t it? Hope you enjoy listening to the rest of the playlist πŸ™‚ x

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