If you were to take a sample of the world’s greatest human minds — Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr, Paul Rudd — you will notice an overlying feature shared by all of them. Is it kindness? Sincerity? General altruism? No. These things are dwarfed in comparison to the one stark truth, the one glaringly awe striking similarity in this little Venn diagram of awesomeness. That one trait, friends, is CHARM.
Our specialists have been hard at work to quantify the charm element so that we can better understand and utilize it. We’ll be reporting those findings in a series on the top ten most charming shit ever made. This week’s most charming list: The Most Charming Hip Hop Samples Ever Used.
10) Touch It by Busta Rhymes | sampled, Technologic by Daft Punk
There are a LOT of Daft Punk hip hop samples out there. Off the top there’s Slum Village, Kanye West, and the Japanese Beastie Boyish hip hop group Teriyaki Boyz. The reason this makes the most charming list as opposed to others is just plain and simple originality. Most of the original instrumental is diced up on the chopping block, leaving a fairly simple but head-bobbing stomp and clap beat that you can’t help but jam to.
So dope and charming was this tune that it spawned various remixes with other rappers who just couldn’t resist surfing and cutting the beat with their own lyrics. Rappers like DMX, Papoose, Rah Digga, Mary J. Blige, and Miss Demeanor Elliot herself. So charming and inviting is the track itself, It will most def go down in history as the most beloved beat to put on in a car and freestyle to with friends. And for good reason.
9) Sing for the Moment by Eminem | sampled, Dream On by Aerosmith
Part of what makes a cut on this most charming list is the unpredictable use of samples, and no one could have predicted Eminem’s use of Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’. The original track is fire, for sure, but pairing the screeching, passionate hook with Eminem’s fiery lyrics and delivery style was a more successful experiment then could have ever been foreseen by any DJ.
With an original twist on the chorus, Eminem spins the song to be about the social and cultural effects that art has on a society. Something largely blamed on hip-hop, but Aerosmith, The Beatles, and JD Salinger could all probably get behind (look at all the assassinations laid at the feet of Catcher in the Rye).
8) Ante Up (Final Fantasy VII Battle Mix) by M.O.P. remixed by Team Teamwork | sampled, Fighting by Nobuo Uematsu
While this technically remains a remix of sorts, it def makes the list on concept alone. You take one of the most amped, fucking livest hip hop tunes of all time (written about beating and mugging a dude for his loot mind you) and you pair it with the raw ass combat tunes of one of (arguably) the greatest and nerdiest video games of all time; Final Fantasy VII. This could make even the lamest of bespectacled dudes want to rob their own grandmother and be like “That social security grandma. Run it.” A fire track, for sure.
7) Pyromilitia by Theophilus london | sampled, Carby by Discovery ft. Ezra Koenig
Who knows charm more than the charming man himself? He has an entire mixtape dedicated to the idea and for good reason. He utilizes a slew of samples from varied genres, the most off the wall (Michael Jackson pun intended, cuz he def samples that shit) is the sampling of none other than Ezra Koenig’s solo work for the tune. Theo goes on to express his love for the artist by also sampling his band’s tune (Vampie Weekies) ‘Giving Up The Gun’ in a later song. If there’s anyone who can crush a sample while also giving it due respect, it’s Theo.
6) Speaking in Tungs by Cam’ron and Vado | | sampled, Symphonic Suite Akira by Geinoh Yamashirogumi
We’re going straight off the beat on this one. Yes, Cam’ron and Vado do a decent job on the track (which is essentially expected of a rap vet like Cam) but the beat though! What is it about that beat? Is it the smooth boom and clap, keeping the ear woke and the chin nodding? Is it the splash of audio effects strewn in, keeping the transitions mobile and going? Or is it the weird ass chanting hum? You guys… It’s the weird ass chanting hum. And I’ll tell you why! Yes, throwing the beat over some random chants could be dope, and it still would be, but what sets this off as so charming is that it was sampled from the original Akira sound track which makes me give so much respect to the producer.
There were one of two scenarios that happened;
This DJ had been sitting on this one for a while, years ago watching Akira in his moms basement, speakers turned all the way up so he could catch every nuance of the chant to catch its samplibility, his mother banging on the floor to turn it down, as he yells back up at her in tears, “Shut up ma! I’m gonna be somebody! Someday Cam’ron’s gonna flow over this track and my anime addiction will pay off! I’ll show you! I’ll show all of you!”
Maybe some diligent DJ went through a crate of sound track vinyls and was like “aw, this can be fucked with”.
Either way, my hat goes off to you, good sirs.
5) Int’l Players Anthem by UGK ft. Outkast| sampled, I Choose You by Willie Hutch
So I know what you’re all asking yourselves right now; who the fuck is the white dude in the music video. Lukas Haas. Actor and musician. I got ya’ll, don’t even worry (I thought it was DJ Quaills for a very long time, not even going to lie about that). As soon as that vocal sample rips and Andre 3k starts speaking his poetry we know we’re in for something special. But as charismatic as it starts, the beat doesn’t really even take off until his part is done — making it one of the most anticipated beat drops of any hip hop song to date.
The choir vocal combined with Willie Hutch’s own gospel like voice makes this a very soulful number, but combined with the 70s pimp-like overtones makes a badass homage to the black-spoitation era (yes I winced while writing that, doesn’t mean it wasn’t bad fucking ass). I can’t tell you how many Cavalier hatch backs I’ve seen desperately trying to thump this track through punk ass factory speakers. But I don’t blame ya’ll, it’s almost impossible not to.
4) Hey Big Spender Theophilus London ft. A$AP Rocky | sampled, Big Spender by Peggy Lee
This isn’t the first (or last) hip hop song to sample a musical but it stands out as most charming for a variety of reasons. First recorded for the musical “Sweet Charity”, the hook speaks largely to what main street hip hop is all about; spending chee$e and making bank. The song goes one step further though, it allows the original vocal track to speak for its own until a sudden, shoulder rocking, bass beat drops that will automatically get you into the mood, whether you like musicals or not!
During the verse sectors you hear a chop of the vocal, cutting and repeating throughout the background. It doesn’t let you forget where the song is coming from and where it’s inevitably going, which is right back into that solo vocal. Admittedly though, once the vocal track drops and goes into the bass loop, the magic is done. This is, unfortunately, lost on the producer, as he goes to repeat it again but the value of its drop is already spent on the listener. Still, Theo and A$AP do a marvelous job surfing the track, both voices speaking clearly on the beat and both flaunting the lavish lifestyle (in their own way) that the song clearly speaks to.
3) They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) by Pete Rock and CL Smooth | sampled, Today by Tom Scott and The California Dreamers
Not only is this one of the most charming samples, it’s also one of the most memorable, completely encapsulating 90s hip hop. When Pete Rock first heard the sample it brought him to tears and he wanted to convey that same emotion to his own listeners. The song title is an acronym of a friend of his that he had recently lost. He wanted to make something that would etch his memory in stone while at the same time illustrating the close personal losses that we all share.
In his verses he brings us inside his childhood home, he shows us his family and their burdens while simultaneously giving us room to reminisce upon our own upbringing and lost loved ones. This is def one of those jams that you have to be in a mood for, else you may get lost reminiscing over some shit you weren’t ready to deal with.
2) I wish I knew Natalie Portman by K.O.S. | sampled, California by Phantom Planet
When I first heard this song bumping through my earbuds, my immediate reaction was; no these motherfuckers did NOT just sample California by Phantom Planet. My second thought was; Jason Schwartzman, you mad bruh? The answers were (respectively) fuck yeah they did, and, I fucking hope not, this shit is dope!
K.O.S. manipulates and twists the loop to his own ends but it eventually lands on a similar note. There’s the usual strutting and verbal gymnastics used in most rap but he plays with the original theme; being on the road, living the crazy life, and craving the concept of home all in one fell swoop.
The title itself is endearing. When pressured to label a title for the track, K.O.S. answered, almost irreverently, “I wish I knew Natalie Portman”. And don’t we all? In an age where a lot of hip hop and music samples leaves us Bored To Death (get it?), this def makes the list as a super charming ass cut.
1) Step into a World by KRS One. | sampled, Rapture by Blondie, The Champ by The Mohawks
Its vocals echo as it starts. Blondie singing the hook to the tune as she does in her own record, then you hear KRS doing this Africana rebel yell over top. At this point you know something important is happening, that some earth shattering drop will ensue. And it does, not as bass-heavy as its hip hop predecessors, but it doesn’t have to be. The rhythmic and steady beat samples already have you. You’re moving to it and you didn’t even know you wanted to. I’ve seen the squarest of squares subconsciously vibe with the beat, giving long, far removed stares as they listened to the haunting Blondie vocal melt around it, vanilla caramel dripping on the vinyl.
KRS One is first and foremost a lyrical athlete, no one can dispute that, past or present, but combined with the uniqueness of this beat you’re at once transported to the New York neighborhoods that spawned hip hop as well as CBGBs, where rap, punk, and all the other fringe music acts of the time played side by side of another. A perfect homage to Blondie and Flash Five Freddy.
There you go. Now the next time you’re unhappy (read: the next four years) you can turn to these ten jams to bring it back around.