Iconic samples are what make hip-hop exactly what it is. I am always amazed at the level to which these beats take the originals. Right now as I type this I ponder over an old Harvey Mason song called “Never Give You Up”. With the help of Atlanta born producer Drumma Boy that song became or rather transformed into “What Up, What's Haapnin”, a personal favorite from T.I. Almost as soon as I think of that song I must honor Kanye West and his samples. He does so many that I really must give you a quick top ten there.
1. “Blame Game”-samples Aphex Twin’s “Avril 15th”
2. “Champion”-samples Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne”
3. “Big Brother”-samples Prince’s “It’s Gonna Be Lonely”
4. “Spaceship”-samples Marvin Gaye’s “Distant Lover”
5. “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”-samples Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever”
6. “Good Life”-samples Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”
7. “Stronger”-samples Daft Punk’s “Stronger, Better, Faster, Harder”
8. “Gold Digger”-samples Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman”
9. “Good Morning”-samples Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”
10. “Flashing Lights”-samples Curtis Mayfield’s “Little Child Running Wild”
And before I get to the point here I must name two more amazing samples from two legends. 2Pac’s “Dear Mama” samples Joe Sample’s “In All My Wildest Dreams” and The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” is sampled from Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit”.
But above all these samples one stands out most of all.
No, it’s not The Isley Brothers’ “For The Love Of You”…
…or “Between The Sheets”.
…or “Footsteps In The Dark”.
I speak of the legendary Lonnie Liston Smith.
Before I did the research I had no idea who he was but afterwards I listened to his sounds and I was in love. But I still think some of you are still wondering what his claim to hip-hop fame is. I’ll tell you.
Jay-Z’s debut album was the classic Reasonable Doubt. To me that album was made by one song. That song was “Dead Presidents”. You’re humming it right now, aren’t you?
From Lonnie’s album Dreams Of Tomorrow producer Ski Beatz took Lonnie’s “A Garden Of Peace” and made or rather transformed it into “Dead Presidents”.
The song was a great song in its own right but hip-hop made it legendary. Lonnie’s song was also sampled for Mary J. Blige’s “Take Me As I Am”, a track that Lonnie himself called the best use of his song that he’d heard. That’s high praise right there.
With regards to you, Lonnie. Thank you for your musicianship.