They Sampled Who? The Surprising Songs Behind Some of Our Favorite Jams

April 26, 2012  |  
1 of 10


Ever been somewhere and heard a song that stopped you dead in your tracks? Not because it was just THAT good, but simply because you knew you you had heard that song in a different form sometime before. Or maybe that’s just me. It happens all the time to moi, and these days, there aren’t too many songs that haven’t been sampled. And when I tell people, “Did you know that ____ sampled ____??” the shock and surprise on their face is highly amusing. Maybe that’s why I decided to do this list. Some of these you might already know, some of them you won’t, but I can guarantee you’ll have some awesome new selections to put on your iPod/iPhone. Listen and learn.

“Hey Lover” by LL Cool J feat. Boyz II Men samples…

“The Lady in My Life” by Michael Jackson

If you have the Thriller album, you should know “The Lady in My Life.” It’s the ultimate smooth night cap jam, and if you know “Hey Lover,” it’s kind of in the same realm, but a bit more on the seductive side. I didn’t notice the sample until a New Year’s party where someone played this track, and someone else asked, you know what this sounds like? And for some reason, Boyz II Men came to mind. I was close, because this is more LL’s track, but the beat is identical. Just sped up. Check for yourself.

“Ms. Fat Booty” by Mos Def samples…

“One Step Ahead” by Aretha Franklin

I know, when you think of Ms. Fat Booty, you probably don’t think of the Queen of Soul (if you do, that’s weird…or mean), but you might start. Aretha (or Areefur as I like to call her) has so many classics, you might not know “One Step Ahead” off top. But after one listen of the light and lovely track, you’ll know the sample of it when you hear her vocals in “Ms. Fat Booty.” In the chorus and in the second verse of “One Step Ahead,” you can hear her contribution to one of our favorite jams by Mos Def…or Yasiin Bey?

Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” samples…

“Can It Be All So Simple” by Wu Tang Clan

Who knew L Boogie loved her some Wu-Tang? While cooking up “Ex-Factor” off of her massive The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album (which was rumored to be about Wyclef), the reclusive singer reached out for the Wu’s track from ’94 for inspiration. The break beat of the track and bass is used in her song, and we know Lauryn starts the song singing, “It could all be simple…” I’d recommend checking out the Wu-Tang cut for real. Smooth indeed…

“Be Happy” by Mary J. Blige samples…

“You’re So Good to Me” by Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield is a must if you’re looking for something with a deep groove to sample, and Mary’s people probably knew that when they reached out and grabbed “You’re So Good to Me” in the production process. The beat used in Mary’s classic song that we all jam to is clearly the exact same beat constructed by Mayfield in “You’re So Good to Me.” The strings are even in there too. Both are bangers though, and you can’t help but love both vocalists. *smiles*

“Party” By Beyoncé samples…

“La Di Da Di” by Slick Rick feat. Doug E. Fresh and “Right and Wrong Way” by Keith Sweat

The song you’ve been acting cute to in the club to with your girlfriends actually was inspired by the ultimate whiner and Rick the Ruler. Produced by Kanye West, the track has Slick Rick talking throughout in the background, and the first verse is very much inspired by the first verse of Keith’s jam, “Right and Wrong Way”: “You may be young but you’re ready!” I doubt you’ll look at this song any differently, but it never hurts to know a jam’s roots!

And Keith…

“Ill Do Anything (I’m Sorry)” by Ginuwine samples…

“Visions” by Stevie Wonder

Stevie is another individual who gets sampled like there’s no tomorrow. Just think of “Pastime Paradise” being used for Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Do I Do” being used for Ja Rule’s “Livin’ It Up.” But how Timbaland decided to take the VERY slow beat of “Visions,” speed it up and use it to help Ginuwine apologize to his boo, only a producer can know. But it sure sounds good either way. It’s an undeniable rip of the beat the minute you hear it…

Arrested Development’s “Tennessee” samples…

Prince’s “Alphabet St.”

Oh Prince, another fella who’s sound gets sampled often. Think “If I Was Your Girlfriend” in “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” and more. However, he’s one of the few artists that doesn’t like it whatsoever if you try it without his permission. Case in point, Arrested Development. The afrocentric group tried to use a simple sample of Prince saying “Tennessee” (where he hopes to take his leggy new girl in “Alphabet St.”), and when they did so before clearance was offered, they were sued. The group had to pay Prince $100,000 after his lawyers waited to see if the song would do well. Once it did, they were served. But it was good money spent for the Grammy winning track that’s still groundbreaking to this day.

“No Diggity” by Blackstreet feat. Dr.Dre samples…

“Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers

Who knew how a song about a much missed granny could turn into something used to praise the way a woman works it. It worked though! Everyone was running around saying “no diggity” when the song dropped, not knowing the core of its infectious beat came from the very slow and somber track by Bill Withers. I can’t imagine the moment where Dr. Dre heard this song and thought, “OH SNAP! NO DIGGITY!”

“All Falls Down” by Kanye West feat. Syleena Johnson samples…

“Mystery of Iniquity” by Lauryn Hill

A true Yeezy fan from way back knows the story behind this one. After hearing Hill’s dope “Mystery of Iniquity” track off of her MTV Unplugged performance and accompanying album, he wanted to sample the song for “All Falls Down.” However, Lauryn’s people didn’t allow clearance of the track, so he did a cover, or interpolation of her song’s guitar riff, and asked singer Syleena Johnson to sing a part of the chorus. Imagine how nice it would have been if Lauryn would have hopped on this track, but Johnson definitely killed it in her own right. Classic!

“Back in One Piece” by Aaliyah feat. DMX samples…

“Sir Nose D Voidoffunk” by Parliament

For all those low-key Parliament fans who know more then “Flashlight” and “Give Up the Funk,” you probably heard this track from the “Romeo Must Die” soundtrack and knew immediately what you were hearing. Baby Girl’s track samples from the very bass-heavy, P-Funk track, “Sir Nose D Voidoffunk.” It even took the random piano part of the track and made it stand out. Both songs are hot though, one is just immensely longer than the other…guess which one…

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • Jadaboo

    Love this!!

  • Ariel B

    Actually, Beyonce’s ‘Party’ intro sounds almost identical to Stevie Wonders ‘For Your Love’

  • Camilled1991

    If you like this kinda stuff you should check out who sampled .com. Also the Amen break has been sampled 100s of times. It’s in everything!

  • Onetn

    Most music now of days are sample ,beyounce donna summer naughty girl, Destiny childbee ges emtions, Ashanti big foolish, romeo luther true love

  • Onetn


  • Guestie

    Stevie’s ‘Visions’ is a very deep song and still holds true today.
    I’d suggest any fans of Stevie or just music period to look up that song’s lyrics and listen to the song. It won’t disappoint.


    mary j is the queen of samples

  • Guest

    what about all the songs Ashanti sampled like baby- Scarface-mary jane

  • Snowglobe Diva

    Excellent site for this info

  • Dechayne

    Mo  Money, Mo Problems(Diana Ross-I’m coming out)

  • ElvisWasAHero2Most

    Ahhhhh, my area has a handful of record stores in walking distance.  Nothing better than waking up on a Sunday, getting some brunch, and then digging through the crates at the record shop.  Though “All Falls Down” is a great Yeezy song, the sample is too obvious (as is Beyonce’s use of LaDiDaDi) a more impressive use of sampling from Kanye (production wise, the beat was for Alicia Keys) is his use of The Main Ingredient’s “Let Me Prove My Love to You” in Alicia’s hit “You Don’t Know My Name”  

    See below…..’t%20Know%20My%20Name_The%20Main%20Ingredient-Let%20Me%20Prove%20My%20Love%20to%20You/ 

  • IllyPhilly

    Mary shouldn’t have been on that list, almost ALL her songs have some kinda sample in it. 

  • 2damnfunny

    Who is great site for music sample info.

  • HoneyBrown1976

    The Wu-Tang Clan’s track sampled Barbara Steisand’s “The Way We Were”.

    • Get real

      As done by Gladys Knight

  • Mabnurse73

    LaDiDaDi has been sampled to death.  Nearly every line in the song has been repeated in another rapper, Snoop Dogg even did a remake of the whole song.  

    • IllyPhilly

       LOL and anything by Debarge.


    Oh yeah, just thought about these…
    Usher’s “Lil Freak” — Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City”
    Snoop’s “Gin & Juice” — Slave’s “Watching You”
    MC Lyte’s “Cold Rock A Party Remix” — Diana Ross’s “Upside Down”
    Monica’s “The First Night” — Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover”

    • MNEditor2

       YES, I knew about “Little Freak” and “Living for the City”! As well as the Monica one, but I was too mad Usher touched “Living For the City” for a song as random as LF…


    Nice article…I’m one of those people who calls out the name of the sample when I hear a song on the radio. Lol But you forgot one of the “kings” of sampling, Will Smith. Lmao
    Miami (And The Beat Goes On)
    Men In Black (Forget Me Nots)
    Will 2K (Rock The Casbah)
    Wild Wild West (I Wish)
    Gettin Jiggy Wit It (He’s The Greatest Dancer)

    • Ladybug94

      Speaking of Will Smith “Summertime” (Summer Madness)

    • Ladybug94

      Oh and “Parents Just Don’t Understand” (I Dream of Jeannie, theme song)

  • MIssK

    Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows” sampled the beat from Soulja Boi’s “Crank Dat”… I wonder where she is these days?

  • Galenafiel

    Very informative article!

  • All for You by Janet is The Glow of Love by Luther 

  • Misbombshell

    interesting post !! im always interested in stuff like this and it’s good to educate the young folks about the origin of the songs they like 🙂