What’s the Best Hip-Hop Sample of All-Time?

Posted 2 years ago by

I've done a lot of these "Questions of the Week", but somehow, someway, I've never really touched one of the absolute foundations of hip-hop; the sample. Well that all ends today, let's talk some "What's the Greatest Hip-Hop Sample of All-Time?

First, as always, some ground rules. Whether it's rappers, remixes of samples, when we talk "greatest" we're really thinking about two factors: inherent dopeness, and impact/influence. In this case, that means that in coming up with the greatest, you should be thinking about how original and creative the sample flip was, and then second, how well known and influential it is. 

Case in point, take Biggie's "Juicy", which samples "Juicy Fruit" (among other things). Now, listening to the "Juicy" instrumental, that's not inherently a particularly creative sample. It's pretty straightforward. On the other hand though, if you played "Juicy Fruit", there probably isn't a hip-hop fan alive who wouldn't immediately think of Biggie. Now that's impact.  

Second, per usual this gets really complicated when you really start thinking about it, so some next level considerations. For these purposes, I'm really only thinking of the way a sample was flipped in one song. So while you could argue that James Brown's "Funky President" is the most important and widely used sample in hip-hop, we're just interested in the way that RZA flipped "Funky President" for "Mighty Healthy".

Along those same lines, for those really popular and common samples, like "Funky President", I tried to pick the most pivotal and/or best use of the sample. If you'd like to argue that DJ Jazzy Jeff flipped "Funky President" on "Summertime" better than RZA did on "Mighty Healthy", or Kanye did on "New God Flow", well that's exactly what this debate is for. 

See, super easy. 

Allright, let's do this thing. And as a reminder, this isn't that thing where I create some definitive "list" and you yell because your favorite song isn't on there. I know this doesn't really happen much on the interwebs anymore, but this is more of the digital version of some rap nerds sitting around and talking. So if there's a song you think deserves to be included, hit the comments, and I set up the Ranker widget so you can add songs yourself. 

With that disclaimer out of the way, let's get at it...

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