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The Verge Playlist: The most sampled songs of all time

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Run-DMC, Afrika Bambaataa, and a lot of James Brown

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."

  1. Fab 5 Freddy - Change the Beat
  2. The Winstons - Amen, Brother
  3. Lyn Collins - Think (About it)
  4. James Brown - Funky Drummer
  5. Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh - La Di Da Di
  6. James Brown - Funky President (People it's Bad)
  7. Public Enemy - Bring the Noise
  8. Run-DMC - Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)
  9. Mountain - Long Red
  10. The Mohawks - The Champ
  11. Skull Snaps - It's a New Day
  12. ESG - U.F.O.
  13. Bobby Byrd - Hot Pants
  14. Incredible Bongo Band - Apache
  15. Bob James - Take Me to the Mardi Gras
  16. Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock
  17. Sly & the Family Stone - Sing a Simple Song
  18. James Brown - The Payback
  19. James Brown - Get Up, Get Into it, Get Involved
  20. The Soul Searchers - Ashley's Roachclip