5 Songs That You Never Knew Were Samples
Have you ever heard a new song on the radio that sounds really good? Got a great beat, deep lyrics and a catchy bridge. You don’t know the title of it, but the more you listen to it, the more something about that beat, those lyrics, and that bridge sounds like a song you’ve heard before.
That “new” song on the radio was more than likely a sample. Artists sample songs more than you’d think. A sample being when a musician takes parts (rhythm, lyrics, beats, etc) of older songs and tweaks/blatantly reuses those parts to form a new song.
As an avid music aficionada, I personally find it fun to search for r&b, hip-hop, and rap artists that have taken parts of older songs and created new tunes of their own.
Here are 5 popular songs that you didn’t know were samples (and the original songs):
- Let It Burn – Jazmine Sullivan (Reality Show; 2014) / Ready or Not – After 7 (After 7; 1989)
I love what Jazmine Sullivan with this song. This my favorite song on Reality Show, probably because of my love for the original song by male group, After 7. Sullivan cleverly remade the song from a lady’s perspective, but the core of ‘Let It Burn’ retains that distinctive ’80s R&B feel. At its heart, Sullivan’s song paints a beautiful picture of a lover’s love similar to After 7’s ‘Ready or Not’ with a more modern sound.
- Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe – Kendrick Lamar (good kid, m.A.A.d city; 2012) / Tiden Flyver – Boom Clap Bachelors (Kort For Dine Laeber; 2008)
Everyone loves this classic song from K Dot, but hardly anyone knows that the song sampled from the Danish Electronic/Indie/R&B collective Boom Clap Bachelors. The original song, ‘Tiden Flyver’, is in Danish. This, in essence, forced Kendrick to be completely original in his lyrics. Kendrick did, however, loop the recognizable smooth background music, change the key of the song, and layer more bass and beats on the music. Topped off with his potent lyrics, and Voila, a new rap classic.
- Your Love – Nicki Minaj (Pink Friday; 2010) / No More “I Love You’s” – Annie Lennox (Medusa; 1995)
I’m sure you’ll be just as surprised as I was when I learned that Nicki Minaj spruced up elements of Annie Lenox’s classic rock song “No More ‘I Love You’s” for her hit single “Your Love.” The first 30 seconds of both songs sound exactly the same: “do be do be do do do… ohh.” That refrain continues throughout Lennox’s (and Nicki’s) song. The difference is this: lyrically, Nicki is singing a modern day love song and conversely, Lenox was singing about falling out of love. Check out Lennox’s edgy style in the music video for “No More ‘I Love You’s” and see if you can spot any similarities between it and some of Nicki’s videos.
- Can’t Get Enough – J. Cole, Trey Songz (Cole World: The Sideline Story; 2011) / Paulette – Balla Et Ses Balladins (Objectif Perfection; 2011)
This is my personal favorite pair of tunes. When you listen to the original song, ‘Paulette’, you’ll appreciate the musical ingenuity that J. Cole used to produce this hit record. The background music and vocals that accompany the beat on “Can’t Get Enough” make the song. Guinean group Balla et ses Balladins created a jewel of a song with the use of traditional African instruments including horns, drums, and strings. Usually when I find out that a song I vibe with has sampled from another song, I get a little disappointed; not so this time. I can’t get enough of both songs.
- Take Care – Drake, Rihanna (Take Care; 2011) / I’ll Take Care of U – Gil Scott-Heron, Jamie xx (We’re New Here; 2010) / I’ll Take Care of U – Bobby “Blue” Bland (Two Steps From The Blues; 1961)
For the last 50 years, this song and its sentiments have stood the test of time.
Drake picked a fantastic song to cover. Each artist after Bobby “Blue” Bland has retained his original lyrics, but each song has a different feel to it. I love the blues and grew up listening to Bland and other blues artists on Atlanta radio. The bluesy undertones in Bland’s original song were retained when Gil Scott-Heron remade the song. However, Scott-Heron’s song has a much faster pace than the original. If you call yourself at all a rap fan, when you listen, you’ll recognize elements of a chart-topping single that came out in 2011: “Take Care” by Drake. He added another element to the song by making it into a duet with R&B star Rihanna.
Open Your Eyes – John Legend (Love In The Future; 2013) / The Light – Common (Like Water For Chocolate; 2000) / Open Your Eyes – Bobby Caldwell (Cat In The Hat; 1980)
I can’t tell you which one of these three gems I like better. These three songs have the same effect, but from three distinct generations. Bobby Caldwell’s original has a simple and classic feel to it, as he uses simply his words and minimal background music to paint a song to his lover. Heurges her to forget about her past love and open her eyes to the possibility of theirs.Common swooped down in 2000 to remaster this classic song in his poetic neo-soul style, rapping over a catchy beat and sampling Caldwell’s second verse as his chorus for “The Light.” Finally in 2013, one of the songs in my favorite album of that year was John Legend’s version of “Open Your Eyes,” titled the same. Legend’s song is moreover a cover of Caldwell’s original with more piano, a softer sound, and a modern R&B flair. Ladies and gentleman, this one song has proven a timeless and very successful sample.
Sampling is an art form within itself, and if an artist does it right, each song becomes a testament of the power and historical impact of music. Some songs are just timeless.
Peace, Shrubs, & White Doves
– Livi Pay
If you like what you read here, check out my playlist of samples.(https://open.spotify.com/user/121378190/playlist/6lUDN54ZyMoyEw0X3dMWsN)