Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain
I caught an interesting episode of one of my favorite shows on AXS the other day. The show was Top Ten Revealed and the subject was Classic Rock songs that were sampled in Hip Hop. Before I dig into this, let’s first define sampling. Sampling is defined as the reuse of a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise elements such as rhythm, melody, speech, sounds or entire bars of music, and may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, repatched, looped or otherwise manipulated. They are usually integrated using hardware(samplers) or software such as digital audio workstations. Sampling is the foundation of hip hop music, which emerged with 1980’s producers sampling funk and soul records.
This week I’ll go through the top 10 classic rock songs sampled in hip hop. One of th most brought up is “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. Chris Booker, ALT 98.7 Radio host, said of “Ice Ice Baby” which sampled “Under Pressure”, for what it’s worth, this is the first hip hop single to top the Billboard Hot 100. The best was when Vanilla Ice was claiming he wasn’t sampling the song. He would eventually give Queen and Bowie writing credits on the record, which, according to Ice, was all they wanted.
“Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin is one of the hardest guitar licks performed. Diddy used it on “Come With Me” that he recorded for the monster flop film Come With Me. Diddy pulled out all the stops for the music video as well as convincing Jimmy Page to play with him. This next one I’d actually known about for some time, much like the Queen/Vanilla Ice one. Patrice Rushen’s Grammy nominated song “Forget Me Nots” was sampled by Will Smith when he turned it into Grammy winner “Men In Black”. R&B singer Coco would lend her voice and the song was “Forget Me Nots” with a few lyric changes.
Diana Ross “I’m Comin’ Out” was sampled some 20 years later by Puff Daddy/Mase/Notorious B.I.G. Released after Notorious B.I.G.’s death, this one went straight to the top of the charts, making him the only artist with two posthumous #1 hits.
We’re going to skip ahead to #5, which is “Dream On” by Aerosmith. I’d heard modern Aerosmith before hearing this song. Then I heard this and was like “that’s Aerosmith”? Indeed. It takes stones (not Rolling Stones) to sample a classic track. Enter Eminem. He sampled the classic in his song “Sing For The Moment”. I hear Joe Perry of Aerosmith played the guitar solo for Eminem when they recorded the track.
I loved the original of this next one. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police gives me chills every time I hear it. It’s such a beautiful song on its own but took on a different meaning when it was sampled for “I’ll Be Missing You”. Written as tribute for the Notorious B.I.G. by his friends and loved ones, this song would become, some would say, as iconic as the original. Add to that that the singer was B.I.G’s wife Faith Evans…that had to be next to impossible for her to sing. Sting even joined Faith and P. Diddy to perform the song at the 1997 VMA’s.
“Good Times” by Chic was covered a decade later in 1980 by the Sugarhill Gang for their song “Rapper’s Delight”. That song itself was sampled in 2009 by Pitbull on his song “Hotel Room Service”. Specifically the line “Hotel, Motel, Holliday Inn”. Sugarhill Gang took the song by Chic and rapped over it. “Rapper’s Delight” was the first big hip hop song.
We’ve reached the final two. First is “Pastime Paradise” by Stevie Wonder. I’m not familiar with this one but as soon as I heard his line “been spending most our life living in a pastime paradise”. Coolio sampled the song for his hit “Gangsta’s Paradise”. Stevie heard the first version and was like “no, man. There’s too much cursing”. Coolio had to re-do it and send it to Stevie, who signed off on this one. That one I did not know. The number one artist was also number five. “Walk This Way” was an Aerosmith classic. It was their first huge hit. It first came out in 1975 but wasn’t a hit until it was re-released a year later. Run D-M-C didn’t want to cover “Walk This Way” when producer Rick Rubin suggested it. The cover collaboration became a #1 hit so I’d say it went well. And the collaboration saved Aerosmith’s career.
If you ever want some interesting music tidbits, Top Ten Revealed is one of the many shows that give some interesting behind the scenes insight.