Ten oddball samples found in classic hip-hop tracks
09.03.2021

Ten oddball samples found in classic hip-hop tracks

Words by Benjamin Lamb

Featuring Pusha-T, Danny Brown, Death Grips and more.

Rappers have never been strangers to finding inspiration in the weirdest of places. Today we’re diving into some of the oddest and most peculiar samples that have ever found their way into the music from some of your favourite hip hop icons.

A Tribe Called Quest – ‘After Hours’

Plucked from their 1990 debut full-length, ‘After Hours’ is absolutely dripping in ’90s optimism, with the pioneering alt-rap group signing off on a lyrically strong track all about those hot summer days.

During Q Tip’s verse, he mentions his memories of frogs on those balmy nights, and behind him is a long sampled frog croak, which assuredly adds another dimension to his bars. This song also samples lines from a popular Richard Pryor sketch, which will assuredly take you back to the ’90s in style.

 

Charles Hamilton – ‘Windows Media Player’

This dude can truly make a song out of anything. Known for rapping over extremely weird samples; like the Pokémon theme, and the theme to Mr Roger’s Neighbourhood, Charles Hamilton’s oddest sample is in the aptly titled ‘Windows Media Player’, where he raps over the start-up and software sounds we’ve become accustomed to on Windows over the years. It was released on his 2008 Mixtape, Death of A Mixtape Rapper.

MF DOOM – ‘Hey!’

One of the biggest names in underground hip-hop, the late great MF DOOM was no stranger to the weird and whacky. His self-produced 1999 track ‘Hey!’ sampled old school Scooby Doo sounds and music, and gave it his trademark offbeat

It was featured on his super popular album Operation: Doomsday, which has been called one of the greatest underground hip-hop albums of all time.

Death Grips – ‘System Blower’

Polarising experimental rap group Death Grips are the masters of odd and quirky samples in their music – after all, they did make a whole album out of Björk samples in 2014.

‘System Blower’ from their acclaimed 2012 album The Money Store is a perfect example of how they do that so well. It’s an anthem that is emphasised through a sample of Serena Williams grunting while hitting a tennis ball, one of the most powerful sounds ever heard in public, which adds another layer to the track’s unsettling yet powerful nature. Check it out below.

Danny Brown – ‘Monopoly’

Detroit MC Danny Brown’s 2011 Quelle-produced cut ‘Monopoly’ sampled a tune from a 1960’s Tom and Jerry style Russian cartoon – yep, for real. It was featured on his mixtape, XXX.

The sample came from an episode that involved a train chase, which you can definitely hear behind ‘Monopoly,’ and it gives the track the energetic and driving vibe that suits Brown’s flow so well. The sample carries throughout the song, which hooks the listener in perfectly, and doesn’t let them go.

Pusha T – ‘Lunch Money’

This 2014 Kanye West produced track sampled the extremely unsettling instrumental Moog piece, ‘E.V.A’ by Jean-Jacques Perrey, which is definitely worth checking out here.

Pusha’s track uses the sample well, with the track dealing with content on race relations in America, the beat and bars contrast perfectly, it intentionally unsettles the listener, so you listen to every word he’s saying. Check it out below.

N.E.R.D – ‘Lemon’

One of 2017’s most energetic and powerful tracks, N.E.R.D’s comeback hit ‘Lemon’ samples a snippet from a bizarre Town Hall meeting captured by CNN in 2009.

The “wait a minute” line prominently repeated throughout the song comes from the Town Hall officiator who was slowly losing control of the meeting. The sample works as a call and response with the track’s vocalist, Rihanna. It really helps bring the energy into this iconic track.

Lil Uzi Vert – ‘You Better Move’

Remember that early 2000’s Pinball game on Windows computers back in the day? Real life Marvel superhero Lil Uzi Vert’s 2020 track ‘You Better Move’ works with a sound effect from the much loved game.

The Brandon Finessin-produced beat carries the sound effect throughout the big track, forming the centrepiece of the enigmatic rapper’s second full-length LP Eternal Atake. Check it out below for a much needed hit of nostalgia.

Nas – ‘New World’

While hip-hop producers are more acquainted with sampling B Sides and rarities from the world’s biggest bands for their productions, many were surprised when producer L.E.S sampled Toto’s massive hit ‘Africa’ for Nas’ ‘New World.’

Featuring on his 1999 album Nastradamus, ‘New World’ features poignant lyrics about making changes for the better in this ‘New World,’ and stands up as a classic Nas track rich with colourful metaphors. Check it out below.

Immortal Technique – ‘Freedom Of Speech’

American – Peruvian rapper Immortal Technique sampled the relatively unknown ‘I’ve Got No Strings’ from the movie Pinocchio for this provocative track. Before he spits his expletive laden bars, he jokingly says “This is one for the kids.”

The track deals with a lot of serious issues the East Coast rapper holds close to his heart, and when contrasted with ‘I’ve Got No Strings,’ it truly packs a punch. The underlying happy and joyous sounds makes this 2003 track one to remember.

 Keep the groove going – explore these ten Aussie tracks sampled by the likes of J Dilla, A$AP Rocky and more.