Songs vs. Samples: Transforming Interpolations into Hits

One of the greatest things about creating music is being able to use influences from other artists and working them into something of your own. Hip-hop and rap stars, in particular, are known for using samples to lay the background for hard-hitting verses and intricate cadences. Musicians like Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube have mastered the art of interpolation so well that, often times, we mistake the sample for an original creation.

It’s not likely that you’ll be able to spot every sample used in every song composition you hear, especially because the interpolations can range from just a few lyrics to the entire melody of the original work. However, many inserted influences often have more meaning than just the sound itself, making it important for us to take note of their use.

Two of the year’s hottest singles, Cardi B’s "Be Careful" and Drake’s "Nice for What," both include references from Lauryn Hill’s "Ex-Factor," a 1998 R&B ballad about a back-and-forth relationship. Ms. Hill is no stranger to the science of sampling, either. Her work has been used in nearly 200 songs by hip-hop and rap artists from all across the board, including Lil Wayne, Pharrell and J. Cole.

Experimental rock group Alt-J used a snippet of Miley Cyrus’s "4x4" in its hit track, "Hunger of the Pine." Miley’s lyric, “I’m a female rebel,” is appropriately repeated as a a cry of revolution in both songs, and remains one of the most notable parts of the art rock song.

In order to dive a bit deeper into the art of music sampling and mixing, we’ve complied a list of songs and their original snippets that you may not have caught during the first listen. Check out the playlist below and see if you’re able to distinguish the samples yourself.


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