Best Samples Of 2018 So Far

Catch up on the best samples of 2018 with our comprehensive guide.

2018 has been a banner year for beats. Top-tier producers including Frank Dukes, Mike WiLL Made it, and Murda Beatz have lived up to their reputation, cooking up amazing instrumentals for artists like The Weeknd, Rae Sremmurd, and Drake respectively. These beats, like many of the best in hip hop, resemble a collage – pulling together a guitar lick from one song, a vocal snippet from another, a drum pattern from something else – to create an original product.

Often producers use effects to speed up, slow down, or modify the frequencies of a sample, thus tramsforming it into something completely different. Everything from Latin boogaloo music to Haitian kompa to psychedelic rock has made it onto this list, proving that a great sample can be found in any genre.

Lauryn Hill – “Ex-Factor” (Sampled on: Drake’s “Nice for What”)

This is it. The official song of the summer. Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, you’ve no doubt heard Ms. Lauryn Hill’s sped-up voice backing Drake’s on-top-of-the-world bars somewhere around town. After dabbling in R&B, house, and cha-cha music, the latest stop on Drake’s musical world tour landed in New Orleans, with a tribute to the city’s signature bounce style and its founder Big Freedia.

On the 20th anniversary of the seminal The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Drake and producer Murda Beatz decided to pay tribute to Ms. Hill by remixing her classic “Ex-Factor.” The product, “Nice For What,” is so successful that L. Boogie herself even covered the song at her recent concert at the Apollo. If you have a “shorty who doesn’t want a slow song,” this one’s for you.

Pete Rodriguez – “I Like it Like That” (Sampled on: Cardi B’s “I Like It”)

The ultimate banger for a hot summer cookout, this surprise gem off of Invasion Of Privacy starts innocently enough with bright horns and group vocals singing “I like it like that!” – before hitting you with a booming bass and thumping kick. The sample, “I Like it Like That” by Pete Rodriguez, is boogaloo music, a genre originated in the 1960s by Latinx teenagers in New York City. Boogaloo fused R&B and soul sounds with mambo and son montuno, a winning formula that ruled the Latin charts years before salsa gained in popularity.

Given her origins as a Latina rapper from the Bronx, Cardi B was the perfect artist to add some hip-hop flavor to the musical influences of boogaloo. Perhaps we’re witnessing the birth of a new genre: Boogaloo Trap.

Moby – “Porcelain” (Sampled on: A$AP Rocky’s “A$AP Forever”)

“GANG! GANG! GANG!” The lead single for A$AP Rocky’s upcoming album TESTING is an epic track sampling electronic DJ Moby. Uplifting strings and a wide, reverberant kick support Rocky’s chanting to create a uniquely cinematic atmosphere. So cinematic in fact, that “Porcelain” was even featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2000 thriller The Beach.

Composed by Moby in 2000, the melancholic song was inspired, in his words, by “being in love with someone but knowing you shouldn’t be with them.” If A$AP Mob had a movie, this song would play in the background during the closing credits.

Three 6 Mafia – “Side 2 Side – feat. Bow Wow & Project Pat” (Sampled on: Rae Sremmurd’s “Powerglide – feat. Juicy J”)

Atlanta may be the world’s hub for trap music today, but many credit the sound’s origin to Memphis, where Three 6 Mafia was making dark hardcore electronic hip hop as early as 1991. Metro Boomin previously shouted out Three 6 as a major inspiration for his moody sound, and A$AP Ferg sampled the group’s 1999 cut “Slob on My Knob” for last year’s “Plain Jane.”

As a founding member of 666, Juicy J was the perfect guest to recruit for Rae Sremmurd’s fast-and-furious new single “Powerglide.” Swae Lee adopts the flow from the Bow Wow and Project Pat-featuring original, adding his signature falsetto, while Mike WiLL Made-It remixes the sample to a heart-pumping tempo. Play this one with caution, I nearly got a speeding ticket for driving while this song was on.

Les Difficiles de Petion-Ville – “Espoir / Composition X” (Sampled on Migos’s “Narcos”)

For as long and bulky as Culture II was, the new Migos album without a doubt explored some new sounds for the group. “Narcos” flips Haitian kompa song “Espoir / Composition X” into a trap banger. Les Difficiles were one of the most popular kompa bands to originate from the Port-au-Prince suburb of Pétion-Ville in the late 1960s.

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Described as “mini-jazz,” the band combined Afro-Caribbean percussion with walking bass lines and mellow vocal melodies, swapping the horn section many of their contemporaries used for funky electric guitars. This decision to not follow the crowd paid off, as it is the band’s guitar that Migos chose to feature on their Culture II standout.

Migos – “Contraband” (Sampled on: Childish Gambino’s “This is America”)

The “Contraband! Contraband! Contraband!” line from Childish Gambino’s “This is America” is an interpolation of the hook from 2014 Migos track “Contraband.” The Migos song, and their whole 2014 mixtape No Label 2, is well-worth checking out for any fans of Culture I or II.

Ahmad Jamal – “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” (Sampled on J. Cole’s “ATM”)

For the debut single off his new album K.O.D., J. Cole spits over some somber jazz piano lines by Ahmad Jamal, lifted from an album called “Happy Moods.” Jamal has been an active musician for over 50 years now, considered by many to be of the great small-group jazz bandleaders of all time. His 1970 album The Awakening is a jazz masterpiece that cannot be recommended enough.

Lee Moses – “What You Don’t Want Me To Be” (Sampled on: Flatbush Zombies’s “U&I – feat. Dia”)

This is one of those songs simply begging to be sampled. Lee Moses was a singer and guitarist of the deep soul genre, a Southern variety of soul music that takes heavy influences from blues, gospel, and country. The passionate, melting sounds of “What You Don’t Want Me To Be” provide the perfect backdrop for Flatbush’s psychedelic aesthetic.

Purity Ring – “Grandloves (feat. Young Magic)” (Sampled on: Playboi Carti’s “Fell in Luv – feat. Bryson Tiller”)

No stranger to hip-hop, synth pop band Purity Ring has been featured on Danny Brown’s “25 Bucks,” produced “God’s Reign” by Ab Soul, and even covered “Grammy” by Soulja Boy. On this track from Playboi Carti’s new album Die Lit, producer Pi’erre Bourne chops up Purity Ring’s vocals into a trippy collage, fitting right in with the project’s drugged-out “rockstar” sound.

Tame Impala – “Reality in Motion” (Sampled on: Maxo Kream’s “Pop Another”)

Another rock band known for hip-hop crossovers, Tame Impala has been featured on Kendrick Lamar’s “Backwards,” is rumored to be appearing on the upcoming Travis Scott album, and was most famously sampled by Rihanna on her 2016 songs “Same Ol’ Mistakes.” The melancholy “Reality in Motion” sets the tone for Maxo’s gritty lyrics – “Pop another pill, pop another seal / Xanax, Seroquel take it like Advil / Lil’ blood spill for a hundred dollar bill.”

Nicolas Jaar – “Killing Time” (Sampled on The Weeknd’s “Call Out My Name”)

Nicolas Jaar is a Chilean-American electronic music artist who specializes in experimental soundscapes. Producer Frank Dukes, who has contributed to everything from Drake’s “Fake Love” to Camila Cabello’s “Havana” and Cardi B’s “Be Careful,” plays somber piano over the ambient sounds of Jaar’s “Killing Time.” Dukes uses an equalizer to take the high frequencies out of the sample, contributing to the dark vibe of the track, and leaving room for Abel’s incredible voice.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Goin’ Down” (Sampled on Jpegmafia’s “Veteran”)

“The reason I sampled ODB is because of something Ice Cube said a long time ago,” Jpegmafia told Mass Appeal in a recent interview. “He was talking about sampling old funk artists, and he was like, ‘Why are we sampling all these artists and giving them our money? Let’s sample some hip hop.’ So I was like oh, let’s sample hip hop!” This may not have exactly been what Ice Cube had in mind when he said that.

On this track, Jpegmafia takes Ol’ Dirty Bastard making a bizarre noise with his throat, the kind of noise a kid would make to annoy their parents, and stretches it out into a never-ending, full-on assault, accompanied by a barrage of electronic drums. The loop keeps going every time you think it might stop, and Jpeg goes on to spit some blistering bars over the chaos. The song is a full-body experience that must be heard to be understood.


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