Some of the Best Samples Used in Hip-Hop and R&B Songs (Updated)

Photo:  Michael Ochs Archives // Harry Langdon // David Redfern/Redferns (Getty Images)
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives // Harry Langdon // David Redfern/Redferns (Getty Images)

Throughout music history, some of the dopest songs are created by sampling the sound of another masterful tune. Most likely, some of your favorite tracks of all time are sampled to create a memorable song.

In some cases, the samples are hard to miss, in other cases, they are hard to catch. Here are some of the best samples used on some of our favorite R&B and hip-hop classics.

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Diana Ross - “I’m Coming Out”


Diana Ross - I’m Coming Out

“I’m Coming Out,” the hit single from Diana Ross’ self-titled tenth album, Diana, was sampled on one of the biggest hip-hop tracks of the 1990s. Hint: In the opening seconds of the track, Diana sings the hook! Ok, you should instantly recognize it was sampled on Notorious B.I.G.’s 1997 track, “Mo Money Mo Problems.”

Ronnie Foster - “Mystic Brew


Mystic Brew

This track from longtime funk and soul organist Ronnie Foster is one of my favorites of all time. This chill performance created the layout for one of the dopest beats of all time. It was sampled on A Tribe Called Quest’s 1993 track, “Electric Relaxation,” which has in turn inspired a plethora of other rappers.

Ahmad Jamal - “I Love Music”


Ahmad Jamal - I Love Music

It might be hard to tell who sampled this beautiful track from American pianist Ahmad Jamal, but if you listen closely at the five-minute mark of the track, you can hear the sample that was used on Nas’ inspirational 1994 track, “The World is Yours.”

Grant Green - “Maybe Tomorrow”


Maybe Tomorrow

This track just pulls the ear of any rapper who wants to get some emotion off of their chest. It was beautifully sampled on Kendrick Lamar’s 12-minute track, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” but it’s also been used by talented MCs such as J. Cole and Common.

Chic - “Good Times”


Good Times

This track was sampled by one of the oldest and most recognizable hip-hop tracks of all time. Hell, it’s damn near 20 years older than me and even I know the track. If you go to the 3:12 minute mark of this song, you can hear the sample that was used throughout “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang.

Stevie Wonder - “Pastime Paradise”


Stevie Wonder-Pastime Paradise

Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” is from one of the greatest albums of all time and sampled by one of the most important hip-hop records ever, Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” While its claim to fame may be because of Coolio, the song has been sampled by other talented artists including Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige and Three 6 Mafia.

Isley Brothers - “Footsteps in the Dark”


Footsteps in the Dark, Pts. 1 & 2

Sometimes you hear songs and you instantly the song that sampled it. That’s the case with the Isley Brother’s classic 1977 song, “Footsteps in the Dark. Six seconds into the songs you instantly know Ice Cube sampled this song on his 1992 hit, “It Was a Good Day.” I can’t listen to one song without thinking about the other. “Footsteps in the Dark” was also sampled by Thundercat on “Them Changes,” a popular song used often used on social media.

EPMD - “You’re A Customer”


EPMD - You´re A Customer

Those drums played throughout the track are timeless and have been sampled by many artists across genres for years. Most notably, it was sampled on the 2004 track by Mario Winans, “I Don’t Wanna Know.” Many people give Winans’ the credit for its sample on the standout track, “Creepin,’” by Metro Boomin and The Weekend, but those drums came from EPMD.

The Charmels - “As Long As I’ve Got You”


THE CHARMELS - AS LONG AS I’VE GOT YOU

The Charmels might not have been the most popular music ensemble of the 1960s, but this sample is beloved in hip-hop circles. As soon as the piano plays on this track, you should instantly recognize that Wu-Tang Clan sampled this song on its breakout hit, “C.R.E.A.M.

Marvin Gaye - “Got to Give It Up”


Got To Give It Up

Marvin Gaye is arguably the greatest singer of all time, which also makes him one of the most sampled. Gaye has a plethora of songs to choose from, but one of my favorites is “Got to Give It Up,” which was sampled by The Jacksons on the 1978 song, “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground).” Two

Public Enemy - “Bring The Noise”


Bring The Noise - Public Enemy ( Original Video )

It’s rare that a hip-hop song is one of the most sampled songs of all time, but “Bring the Noise” by Public Enemy is the seventh most sampled song ever, according to whosampled.com. To no surprise, it’s been sampled by a multitude of rappers including Kanye West, Ludacris, Rakim and De La Soul. But it’s also been sampled by Prince of all people.

Isaac Hayes - “Walk On By


Walk On By (Remastered)

Along with producing some of the tracks on this list, Isaac Hayes has also been sampled more than a number of times. “Walk On By” is among his most popular and has been sampled by artists Michael Jackson to Beyoncé.

The O’Jays - “Cry Together”


Cry Together

If you just listen to this song, there’s really no need to listen to the tracks that have sampled it. New music fans may recognize this track thanks to Drake’s standout rapping on “Middle of the Ocean.” But it’s also been sampled by 2pac, The Diplomats, Ja Rule, Wu-Tang Clan, and Johny Gill.

Chi-Lites - Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)


The Chi-Lites - Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)

Anyone who was born in the last 20 years should instantly recognize the artist and song that sampled this 1970 track as soon as it starts. If you don’t, I really have questions about what you’ve been listening to for the past two decades.

Bootsy’s Rubber Band - “I’d Rather Be With You”


Bootsy’s Rubber Band - I’d Rather Be With You

This song by the 70s funk and soul is responsible for the sample of a modern classic. You can thank Bootsy Collins and the Parliament-Funkadelic for assisting in creating “Redbone,” by Childish Gambino.

The Winstons - “Amen Brother”


The Winstons - Amen Brother

Believe it or not, “Amen Brother” by The Winstons is the most sampled song of ALL TIME. According to whosampled, it’s been sampled more than 6,000 times, almost two times more than the second most sampled track. It’s been sampled by artists such as N.W.A., Tyler, the Creator, Jay-Z, Denzel Curry, and Big K.R.I.T.

Lyn Collins - Think (About It)


Lyn Collins - Think (About It)

Behind “Amen Brother,” “Think (About It)“ is the second most sampled track of all time. Most recently, it was sampled on a standout track from Beyoncé’s 2022 album, Renaissance.

The Sylvers - “Cry of a Dreamer”


The Sylvers- Cry of a Dreamer

This song is by no means one of the most popular samples of all time, but it’s definitely one of my favorites, thanks to the brilliance of a great producer, Madlib. He amazingly sampled this song twice on his collab album with Freddie Gibbs, Bandana on two separate tracks. Once on “Palmolive” featuring Pusha T and Killer Mike, and another on “Fake Names.”

Roy Ayers - “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”


Everybody Loves The Sunshine

For some reason, this song is beloved by rap’s sharpest and best lyricists including Common, Joey Bada$$, and Mos Def. But, this song has also been sampled by the timeless singer that is Mary J. Blige on “My Life.”

Kool & the Gang - “Summer Madness”


Summer Madness

Similar to many other songs on this list, this track is amazing even if it was never sampled. Thankfully, artists were smart enough to use it. It’s most famous use is on the classic 1991 track, “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. It’s also been sampled by Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Jhené Aiko, Aaliyah and Erykah Badu.

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