The first sampling synthesiser would have broken the average person's bank account several times over. Clocking in around $18,000 ($58,000 in today's money), the price tag meant the art of creative cut-and-paste wasn't widely available until the mid-to-late 80s, when more commercially viable products entered the market. It's during this time that many of today's prolific and established producers picked up their first sampling machine—your Dr Dres, Kanye Wests, etc—and began their journey toward world domination, bolstered with a neat collection of 80s soul vinyl.
Fast forward twenty or so years and sampling is as commonplace in music as toenails are on people. "Hotline Bling" by Drake—that's a sample. "Mask Off" by Future—that's a sample. "Big For Your Boots" by Stormzy—that's right, you're getting it now. The sample used in the latter track from the Croydon MC may be a little more harder to work out than his American counterparts—it takes a minuscule vocal sample from a 1986 Chicago house track and subtly repeats it throughout the song. Still, the point stands: sample! This isn't a bad thing though. In fact, it's the opposite.
As much as original music holds a special allure, there's something beautiful about sampling and how it can culminate in discovering even more music—often from a genre and era the listener wasn't intentionally journeying towards. So, with that in mind, here are some songs you may not have known were based on samples. If you did: congratulations! There is no award for you though. Sorry.
Beyonce – "Crazy in Love" / Chi-Lites – "Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)"
"Crazy In Love" sits at the zenith of impactful pop songwriting. Instantly recognisable, euphoric, replete with a tight hook and a silky smooth guest spot from Jay-Z – this song will be remembered for as many years as it takes until humanity evolves beyond the need for hearing. But while the respective talents of the Carter-Knowles partnership can't be understated, the triumph of "Crazy In Love" is owed in part to 1970s quartet Chi-Lites and their track "Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)". Go ahead and press play above and lap that sweet sample up into your eardrum.
Daft Punk – "Digital Love" / George Duke – "I Love You More"
When people call Daft Punk one of the greatest electronic duos of all time they're missing one important accolade, which is that they're also masters of cherry-picking the best parts of their songs from slightly less interesting ones. Take "One More Time," for example. The ecstatic riff from that song appears at around 0:34 in Eddie John's "More Spell On You." Arguably their greatest feat though is taking the only good part from George Duke's "I Love You More" – literally the first ten seconds – and turning it into "Digital Love", perhaps the most romantic song to have ever come from the heart of a robot.
Rihanna – "Work" / Richie Stephens & Mikey 2000's "Sail Away Riddim"
Oh my god. Yes! This one is an absolute stonker. Hear the bassline on Richie Stephens & Mikey 2000s "Sail Away Riddim" and see how it turned into gold dust or (depending on how you feel) lost its dirty edge when becoming the foundation of Rihanna's "Work."
Eminem – "My Name Is" / Labi Siffre's "I Got The…"
"Hi kids, do you like violence? / Wanna see how Dr Dre flipped this shit into something so great it can't be explained by science?"
Kendrick Lamar – "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" / Boom Clap Bachelors "Tiden Flyver"
The instrumental for "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" is washed in earth-like, airy tones, so it makes sense it's basically lifted from Scandinavia. A group called Boom Clap Bachelors from Denmark, to be precise. Breathe all this goodness in, slowly exhale, then repeat as many times as necessary. Namaste.
Kanye West – "New Slaves" / Omega – "Gyöngyhajú Lány"
You know the conclusion to "New Slaves?" Right after Kanye has brushed all the frustration off his chest but before the road is cleared for Frank Ocean? When everything lifts up and the gates to heaven are so far open it's almost possible to see the light reflecting off God's white marble table? Remember that part and hold it close. Then press play on Omega's "Gyöngyhajú Lány" and wait until around 30 seconds in when that exact same feeling is as vividly omnipresent.
Tyler, the Creator – "911 / Mr Lonely" / The Gap Band – "Outstanding"
Not so much a sample as it is the reworking of a melody, but here we go: this is still smooth as hell. 50 seconds or so in you'll hear it, the wave that cruises down the suburbs past all the neatly cut flowers and into "911 / Mr Lonely" territory.
Gnarls Barkley – "Crazy" / Gianfranco Reverberi – "Last Men Standing"
Good grief, this is perhaps one of the best in that it perfectly showcases why "Crazy" sounded like it had strolled in from a windswept street and straight to the bar, like a maligned cowboy.
Robbie Williams – "Rock DJ" / Barry White – "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me"
Yessssssssssss! Literally press play, there are no more words for you.
Lupe Fiasco – "Kick Push" / Celeste Lesgapi – "Bolero Medley"
Soundtrakk flipped Filipino singer Celeste Lesgapi and her beautiful composition "Bolero Medley" into the greatest song ever made about skateboarding. Truly, the work of dreams.
You can find Ryan on Twitter.