5 Hip-Hop Songs You Didn’t Know Use Samples

Last fall, my roommates and I—a couple drinks in—arrived at a party and we weren’t quite satisfied with music.  In line with usual behavior, we hijacked the playlist. I threw on Frank Ocean’s “Novacane” and that’s when we made a friend. Leah, a student at Northeastern, dug the tunes. Soon we were all talking music and running the party playlist. Girl’s got an amazing taste in music and a way with words so for Interesting Vibe’s first guest post, I reached out to her. Here it is, folk! Enjoy!



“So, what kind of music do you like?”

I’m sure we’ve all been violated by this impossible-to-answer question. Okay, maybe for some people, the answer is simple- they have a favorite band to toss out there, or they simply only listen to one genre of music and nothing else. Whenever I am asked this question, however, I become extremely flustered and cannot even come close to giving an answer.

My musical journey has certainly been an interesting one, and my current music taste goes ALL over the map. I can say that a trend over the past couple of years has been an increased affinity for hip hop music. I’ve always had a knack for R&B, but after finally giving some rappers a chance, I found myself really delving into the entire amazing genre.

Perhaps part of the reason why I have grown to love hip hop so much is that it is so greatly influenced by a wide variety of genres, artists, and even cultures. I’ve often found myself listening to a new hip hop or rap song and thinking “Wow, that’s an odd sound…but I love it!”

In an effort to understand a little bit more about where some of my favorite songs got their roots, I began exploring samples. I found this awesome website, whosampled.com, where you can enter any song and see which songs it samples, and also which songs sample it. Upon this discovery, I entered into a wormhole, checking out all my current favorite songs, and then listening to all the songs sampled within them. I was super excited by what I found, and I made a playlist to keep track of it all.

So, with that being said, here are 5 popular songs you most likely know, that you might not have known contain samples.


Hotline Bling by Drake

Samples: Why Can’t We Live Together by Timmy Thomas

There is no way in hell that you haven’t heard the disgustingly catchy “Hotline Bling” from Drake by now. But did you know that it heavily samples a song from 1972? The original song, “Why Can’t We Live Together” was first performed as an improvised number by Timmy Thomas. After the crowd showed it so much love, he recorded a studio version. Kudos to Timmy for creating a sound that is still bumping over 40 years later!


She Knows by J. Cole

Samples: Bad Things by Cults

I’m sure you’ve heard the intro instrumentals to “She Knows” by J. Cole and entered into a call-and-response “She knows! She knows! I know she knows!” with your friends (or with yourself…just me? Okay.) What you might not know is this epic backing music is largely sampled from a Cults song. Who knew my indie-loving high school self and my hip-hop loving college self would be able to love a song so much?


Lost by Chance the Rapper

Samples: Brother’s Gonna Work It Out by Willie Hutch

“My druggy, love me when I’m ugly, hug me when I’m bummy, scummy, I’m your hubby.

Let’s get lost. Let’s get loooooost”….hopefully by now, you hear those words and know you’re about to enjoy a few minutes of pure chill, ill, real rhyming skills from Chance the Rapper and Noname Gypsy. But did you know this song samples a motown song from 1973 called “Brother’s Gonna Work It Out?” The original song is already great, but with Chance doing his thing over it, it’s almost untouchable.


Truffle Butter by Nicki Minaj

Samples : What They Say by Maya Jane Coles

I am not ashamed to admit that I know every single word to Truffle Butter by Nicki Minaj, but I am ashamed to admit that it took me months to figure out that the backing of the song is sampled from a house song that was released in 2010. Both songs make me want to get down, in different ways. Both totally check out as songs you must not sit down for.


Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe by Kendrick Lamar

Samples: Tiden Flyver by Boom Clap Bachelors

“Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” has become a regularly used phrase in my vocabulary, all credit due to Kendrick Lamar. What you might not know, however, is that this banging track owes some credit to Boom Clap Bachelors, a Danish group, and their song “Tiden Flyver”. Wow, talk about worlds colliding. I can definitely say that Kendrick did the opposite of kill the vibe by using this track.


Check out the full playlist here.



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