For our third and final installment in our rock meets rap series, we look at the rarely seen indie-rock sample. Bellow are 8 top-shelf examples of hip hop artists doing their thing over Lou Reed, Vampire Weekend and more.
The Track: Kendrick Lamar – Money Trees
The Sample: Silver Soul – Beach House
If Kendrick’s next album was made up of 100% Beach House samples, I don’t think anyone would complain. With it’s woozy, funereal synths and ethereal backing vocals, “Silver Soul” is the perfect vehicle for K Dot recount his teenage pipedreams of “living like rappers do.”
The Track: Schoolboy Q – There He Go
The Sample: Menomena – Wet and Rusting
“There He Go” is Schoolboy Q at his most ignorant. And that’s okay. Rapping about the adultery-enabling advantages of fame over the chirping alien soundscapes of Menomena’s “Wet and Rusting”, the TDE mainstay may not show much in the way of lyricism here, but his charisma is undeniable.
The Track: Cam’ron – What Means the World to You
The Sample: The Police – Roxanne
With only the smallest of tweaks to Stuart Copeland’s original drum tracks, “Roxanne” makes a surprisingly effective backtrack for Killa Cam to ponder the things that matter (in this case, mostly bitches and money). With its dense wordplay and early-2000s vibes, “What Means the World to You” is upbeat, satisfying hip hop, for the velour-track suit wearing set.
The Track: Jay-Z feat. Memphis Bleek – It’s Alright
The Sample: Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime & Kraftwerk- Spiegelsaal (The Hall of Mirrors)
Why sample one indie classic when you can sample two? Melding the otherworldly phaser leads of “Spiegelsaal”, with “Once in a Lifetime’s” dark, lurching bass lines, “It’s Alright” benefits greatly from its, sinister, hypnotic beat.
The Track: Frank Ocean – Nature Feel
The Sample: MGMT – Electric Feel
The first time I heard “Nature Feel”, I was perplexed. “Electric Feel” had been ubiquitous just a couple years earlier and it seemed like listeners were ready to move on. Then, out of nowhere, a little known R&B singer named Frank Ocean came along with this dazzling, sexed-up remix.
The Track: Drake – Let’s Call It Off
The Sample: Peter Bjorn and John – Let’s Call It Off
“Let’s Call It Off” is early-era Drake at his Drakiest. Smoothly crooning over the minimal handclappy instrumentals of Peter Bjorn and John, the song is more indie pop than hip hop until the 2:15 mark. Eventually, Drake spits a few bars, but this still has more of “Hey, Hey, We’re The Monkees” vibe than anything resembling 2014, Best-Behavior Drake. The man has come a long way.
The Track: Kid Cudi – Cudderisback
The Sample: Vampire Weekend – Ottoman
What do you get when a B-list rapper samples an A-list indie band? You get a solid B+ track. And solid this is—bouncy and self-assured—until you realize you could just be listening to Vampire Weekend’s far-superior Contra, B-Side original. By the way, this isn’t the first time Cudi has sampled indie rock, before Cudderisback, Mr. Solo Dolo sang over similarly the excellent Band of Horses Track “The Funeral”.
The Track: M.I.A. – Paper Planes
The Sample: The Clash – Straight to Hell
With its massive chorus (complete with gunshots and cash register sounds), and swagged-out vocal performance, “Paper Planes” was widely considered to be 2007’s song of the year. Courtesy of innovative producer Diplo, the beat is a Clash-referencing marvel of gangsta shoegaze.
The Track: Lil’ B – Lost Ones
The Sample: Zola Jesus – Trust Me
Lil B never met a sample he didn’t like. Goo Goo Dolls, Metallica, Britney Spears, J-pop artist Ayumi Hamasaki, Mick Foley (the wrestler), Air Supply, Devo, The Titanic song—Base God has rapped over all them. If anyone has earned their way onto this list, it’s B.
The Track: A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It?
The Sample: Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side
While the song contains samples from a variety of sources, it’s Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” that really anchors the piece. As one of the most famous tracks, from one of the greatest hip-hop crews, no discussion of the confluence of rap and indie could be complete without mention of “Can I Kick It?” Is it any surprise that 20 years since its release, “Can I Kick It?” Is now a regularly sampled track itself?