You know you’re listening to a top notch sample when you can recognize the original song, but appreciate how the producer has reworked a preexisting piece of music. Somehow, the often unlikely match effortlessly fuses two distinct sounds to create an entirely new feel. Sampling has always been at the heart of Hip Hop — taking something already established and re-imagining it for the new age. That was no different this year, peep some of our favorites of 2012 below.
5. Drivin’ Round’ — Wu-Block ft. Erykah Badu prod. Termanology
Borrowing from a classic ‘70s soul song, producer Termanology created a beautifully bare track for Wu-Block and Ms. Badu to go to work on. ‘Sho Nuff Must Be Love’ by HeatWave gives ‘Drivin’ Round’ an eery OG vibe that’s irresistible.
4. ‘We Get High’ — Fabolous prod. C-Sick
What would Hip Hop be without those classic odes to the perfect high? Fabolous creates one of his own with a sample of Michael Frank’s ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’. Frank’s chorus sets the scene for the rhymes on this chilled out track. In fact, I would venture to say that the production outshines the lyrics on this one, sorry Fab. Check it out here.
3. ‘The Recipe’ — Kendrick Lamar ft. Dr. Dre prod. Scoop DeVille
Here, producer Scoop DeVille makes it happen with this sample of indie band Twin Sister’s ‘Meet The Frownies’. The chorus creates a consistent, almost droning backdrop for Lamar and Dre to laud their hometown of Los Angeles. Even Twin Sister’s lyrics fit perfectly; the sampled portion of the chorus reads “Smoking weed with you/… cause you’ve taught me to”. Sounds like some real California living.
2. ‘All That (Lady)’ — Game ft. Lil Wayne, Big Sean, Fabulous, & Jeremih prod. Chuck Taylor
Another R&B favorite from the early ‘90s, D’Angelo’s ‘Lady’ provides the perfect background for Game’s reasonably thugged out love song. D’Angelo’s vocals complement each rapper’s flow throughout the track for another standout sample of the year.
1. ‘Poetic Justice’ — Kendrick Lamar ft. Drake prod. Scoop DeVille
Again, Scoop DeVille crafted another great track, perfectly invoking Janet Jackson’s ‘Any Time, Any Place’ for Kendrick and Drake to settle into the beat. The chorus integrates Jackson’s voice beautifully and makes for a smooth track titled after the R&B singer’s first major film credit, Poetic Justice.
Editor’s Note: Upon further consideration, we wanted to add a very honorable mention. If you’re looking for smooth, jazzy samples in surprisingly chopped tracks, peep Swiss beatmaker Melodiesinfonie’s soundcloud. My personal favorite is Ja$$, available for download here.