Classic Black Musicians Sampled By Your Favorite Artists

Janet Jackson, Prince, Lauryn Hill & Stevie Wonder

Photo: Getty Images

True music fans understand the quick yet euphoric feeling they get from recognizing a sample from a familiar song.

As a kid in middle school, I loved Smilez & Southstar’s “Tell Me.” Even after hearing the 2002 rap track multiple times, I never realized it was a sample of Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross’ 1973 track “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” until over a decade after I heard the song for the first time.

For all those who didn’t know that piece of music history, did you feel it? That feeling of sudden shock and awe when you hear or learn about a sample is something nearly all music lovers experience frequently, especially in recent years. While sampling can occur in any genre, hip-hop and R&B have made the process of reusing an existing recording in a brand new song a sport in the music industry.

Almost every recording from the past can be used as a sample in a new track. It can be the intro of a song or a loop of one particular sound or lyric. Samples aren't limited to just songs either. Monologues from TV shows or films and even speeches have all been used as samples over the years. Depending on the producer, these samples can be sped up or slowed down. They can be really obvious or inconspicuous enough to go unnoticed to the untrained ear.

There are so many iconic artists who have been sampled by today’s popular acts. Revered musicians like Stevie Wonder and Anita Baker have influenced music by popular rappers like JAY-Z and Lil Wayne. Soulful singers like Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah have gone on to inspire hits from Drake and Nipsey Hussle. Your favorite artist has sampled plenty of legends from various genres over the years, and you probably didn't even realize it.

In honor of Black Music Month, we’re honoring all the timeless Black artists who have served as the muse for some of the biggest songs in hip-hop and R&B.

Aretha Franklin

Original: Aretha Franklin — “One Step Ahead” (1965)

Sampled In: J.I.D “Surround Sound” Featuring 21 Savage & Baby Tate (2022)

Lenny Williams

Original: Lenny Williams - “Cause I Love You” (1978)

Sampled In: Twista “Overnight Celebrity” (2004)

Chaka Khan

Original: Chaka Khan - “Stronger Than Before” (1984)

Sampled In: Curren$y ”Alert” Featuring Styles P (2015)

Michael Jackson

Original: Michael Jackson “P.Y.T” (1982)

Sampled In: Wale “My PYT” Featuring Sam Sneak (2016)

Diana Ross 

Original: Diana Ross “I’m Coming Out” (1980)

Sampled In: The Notorious B.I.G. “Mo Money Mo Problems” Featuring Diddy, Ma$e & Kelly Price (1997)

Marvin Gaye

Original: Marvin Gaye - “I Want You” (1976)

Sampled In: Kendrick Lamar “The Heart Part 5" (2022)

Anita Baker

Original: Anita Baker - “You’re The Best Thing Yet” (1983)

Sampled In: Lil Wayne “Best Thing Yet” (2007)

Stevie Wonder

Original: Stevie Wonder - “Love’s In Need of Love Today” (1976)

Sampled In: JAY-Z “Smile” Featuring Gloria Carter (2017)

Janet Jackson

Original: Janet Jackson - “Come Back To Me” (1989)

Sampled In: Plies “Bust It Baby Pt. 2” Featuring Ne-Yo (2008)

New Edition

Original: New Edition - “Can You Stand The Rain” (1988)

Sampled In: Wale “Fine Girl” Featuring Davido & Olamide (2017)

Lauryn Hill

Original: Lauryn Hill - “Ex-Factor” (1998)

Sampled In: Drake “Nice For What” (2018)


Original: Aaliyah - “One In A Million” (1996)

Sampled In: Nipsey Hussle “A Million” (2010)


Original: Prince - “Little Red Corvette” (1982)

Sampled In: Lil' Troy ”Wanna Be A Baller” (1998)

Luther Vandross

Original: Luther Vandross - “Never Too Much” (1981)

Sampled In: Keyshia Cole ”Never” Featuring Eve (2004)

Rick James

Original: Rick James - “Give It To Me” (1981)

Sampled In: JAY-Z “Just Wanna Love Ya (Give It 2 Me)" Featuring Pharrell Williams (2000)

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