Sampling other musicians’ songs in rap instrumentals is a long-standing hip-hop tradition, with producers generally drawing from old-school funk, soul, and rock n’ roll songs. Because sampling is such a hip-hop staple, I seem to love samples most when they are from unconventional source material, or are used in a strange context. Here are my top five wackiest rap samples:

5. “Angel of Death” (1986) by Slayer, sampled on Public Enemy’s “She Watch Channel Zero?!” from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)NationofMillions

One of the most famous thrash metal cuts of all time being featured on one of the most famous rap albums of all time: it doesn’t get much better than this. Even today, however, at the height of hip-hop’s sonic diversity, sampling guitar lines from metal songs is pretty unorthodox. But Public Enemy’s DJ Terminator X did it almost 30 years ago. Looping Slayer’s screeching guitar riff, Terminator places a hard-hitting drum beat atop it. It’s simple yet effective, taking Public Enemy’s already aggressive beats to a new hostile height.

4. “21st Century Schizoid Man” (1969) by King Crimson, sampled on Kanye West’s “POWER” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) My_Beautiful_Dark_Twisted_Fantasy

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has Yeezy drawing from old-school, progressive rock with flavors of jazz and classical music in the mix. Snippets of Crimson singer Greg Lake’s vocals masterfully cap off the refrain of Kanye’s smash hit “POWER”. Perhaps my favorite part of this sample, however, is that I regularly get to hear teenagers unknowingly singing a King Crimson chorus to themselves.

3. “Rumble” (1958) by Link Wray & His Ray Men, sampled on Death Grips’ “Spread Eagle Cross the Block” from Exmilitary (2011)Exmilitary_artwork

The first time I heard Link Wray’s surfy, rootsy rock instrumental “Rumble”, I never imagined a bloodthirsty MC Ride would be screaming sexually aggressive lyrics atop it. But that’s exactly what “Spread Eagle Cross the Block” is, and it’s fucking awesome.

2. “Lacrimosa” (composed 1791) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from his Requiem Mass in D Minor, sampled on Meek Mill’s “Lord Knows” from Dreams Worth More Than Money (2015)MeekMillDWMTM

Meek Mill goes in on “Lord Knows”, turning Mozart into a hip-hop banger (although “Lacrimosa” is a banger in its own right). The beat has no extraneous instrumentation, just trap rap drums and a recording of “Lacrimosa”. Sometimes my brain has trouble making sense of the drums and the Mozart as one instrumental, but all in all, “Lord Knows” is an epic jam.

1.The score of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) by Jon Brion, sampled on Jay Electronica’s Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge) (2007)Jay_Electronica

Jay Electronica’s only mixtape (and only non-single release for that matter) features nothing more than Electronica’s verses accompanied by the Eternal Sunshine orchestral score. As Electronica raps on this mixtape, he uses “no drums, no hook, just new shit”. Not only is Brion’s music gorgeous, but its serene simplicity gives Electronica room for profound lyrical pondering.

 

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