2016 needs to relax. We’re not even four months into the year and two absolute titans of music have passed away: David Bowie and today, Prince.
The legendary artist was found dead in his Minnesota studio at age 57; the cause of death is currently being investigated. But rather than weep over the loss of one of the greatest musical artists of all time, His Funkiness would most likely rather have us party like it’s 1999. So, as a hip-hop focused website, much like we did for Ziggy Stardust in January, let’s give thanks to Prince for some of the best contributions his music lent to rap, in the form of samples that built canvases for modern-era artists to paint on. Here are just some of the most notable Prince-sampling hip-hop tracks.
“To Live & Die In LA” – 2Pac (1996) samples “Do Me, Baby” (1982)
This was not the only time ‘Pac borrowed from Prince, as “Heartz of Men” samples “Darling Nikki” and “What’z Ya Phone #?” samples The Time’s “777-9311″. But the fact that Shakur turned a beat sampling the sweat-drenched sex-fest “Do Me, Baby” into a heartfelt ode to the crime-addled city he lived in is what makes it so special.
“Big Brother” – Kanye West (2007) samples “It’s Gonna Be Lonely” (1979)
“It’s Gonna Be Lonely” is not available for public streaming
Kanye sampling one of Prince’s prettiest (and somewhat underrated) tracks for his ode to mentor Jay-Z is only right. Very well executed production work here.
“Blow Ya Mind” – Nicki Minaj (2010) samples “Darling Nikki” (1984)
This is more of an interpolation than a straight up sample, and clearly Sean Kingston’s ‘remixed’ hook can’t touch The Purple One’s original, but an A for effort is definitely in order.
“Diamonds & Girls” – Lil’ Wayne (2007) samples “Diamonds & Pearls” (1991)
“Diamonds & Pearls” is not available for public streaming
In one of the most fun flips of a Prince track, Weezy kills it over a simple but dope beat sampling the title track from his 1991 album.
“Wanna Be A Baller” – Lil’ Troy (1999) samples “Little Red Corvette” (1982)
Realizing that a song I fucking love samples another song I fucking love after years upon years of not knowing is definitely a “kicking myself ” moment. Lil’ Troy’s famous (and only) hit samples the subtle, beautiful synths of Prince’s 1982 classic throughout its production, quite well.
“’03 Bonnie and Clyde” – Jay-Z feat. Beyonce (2003) samples “If I Was Your Girlfriend” (1987)
“If I Was Your Girlfriend” is not available for public streaming
Another (better) interpolation here, Hova and ‘Yonce craft one of their most beloved hits with a whole lot of inspiration from one of the greatest to ever do it.
Illustration by Michael White.