Kendrick Lamar's excellent new album To Pimp a Butterfly is a complex and reflective album that uses samples to highlight the context in which it was created. It works bits of Sly and the Family Stone, Michael Jackson, the Isley Brothers, and James Brown into its narrative. A staticky flutter from Sufjan Stevens' Age of Adz track "All for Myself" even shows up on "Hood Politics." That might seem like an odd choice at first, but both Lamar and Stevens are incredibly strong lyricists who often find source material in their faith.
In any case, it got me thinking about samples in general and how some are so slight you might never pick them up without a good ear and some luck. We already knew "Change the Beat" was the most sampled song ever, but what about the next 19 tracks? This playlist is not definitive (I pulled info from Who Sampled) but it's something like definitive. If Kanye drops a surprise album tonight, this could change by tomorrow.
This playlist excludes three songs not on Spotify: Melvin Bliss' "Synthetic Substitution," the Honey Drippers' "Impeach the President," and Funk, Inc.'s "Kool is Back."
- Fab 5 Freddy - Change the Beat
- The Winstons - Amen, Brother
- Lyn Collins - Think (About it)
- James Brown - Funky Drummer
- Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh - La Di Da Di
- James Brown - Funky President (People it's Bad)
- Public Enemy - Bring the Noise
- Run-DMC - Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)
- Mountain - Long Red
- The Mohawks - The Champ
- Skull Snaps - It's a New Day
- ESG - U.F.O.
- Bobby Byrd - Hot Pants
- Incredible Bongo Band - Apache
- Bob James - Take Me to the Mardi Gras
- Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock
- Sly & the Family Stone - Sing a Simple Song
- James Brown - The Payback
- James Brown - Get Up, Get Into it, Get Involved
- The Soul Searchers - Ashley's Roachclip