• Five Samples Used By Kanye West That We Absolutely Love

    Not only is Kanye West one of the most prolific rappers of our generation, but he’s also considered one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time. It’s a title he’s earned through years and years of meticulous work in the studio, piecing together beats that tell their own melodic story. It’s also evident that Kanye has been able to enhance his production through his incredible ear for samples.

    He’s sampled hundreds of records throughout his career, some distinguishable on the finished product while others are more obscure. The range of his samples show just how much of a musical savant Kanye West is. We’ve highlighted five of these records used by West that are fantastic on their own. From The Jackson 5 to Daft Punk, it’s easy to understand why he would tap into the energy of these songs while he was recording. They’re just that good.

  • The Jackson 5 “I Want You Back”

    “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” may not have been the first time that labelmates Jay Z and Kanye West worked on a track together, but from its immense success on the Billboard charts as well as the radio it was clear this wouldn’t be the last hit single they created. And how could they miss, with West sampling “I Want You Back.” The Jackson 5 record features a melody that’s as recognizable as the “Happy Birthday” song and charming vocals from Michael Jackson at the tender age of 11. It brought a playful vibe to Jay Z’s 2001 single that couldn’t be denied. In 1999, “I Want You Back” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, 30 years after its release. It will live on through this rap song as well.
  • Chaka Khan “Through the Fire”

    Kanye West’s production on his first single “Through the Wire” is widely regarded as his signature sound for the early part of his career. It features a sped-up sample, often referred to as “chipmunk soul,” of Chaka Khan’s 1984 record “Through the Fire.” Chaka’s powerful words here tell a tale of love and devotion as she dedicates her life to her partner. This parallels Kanye’s own record in which he shares his love for music. Considering his many achievements in music since releasing “Through the Wire” in 2003, it was a match that was meant to be.
  • The Main Ingredient “Let Me Prove My Love to You”

    While Kanye West has spent much of his time as a producer working with fellow rappers, he’s also made his mark in the R&B scene as well. In 2003 he linked up with Alicia Keys on “You Don’t Know My Name,” a magnificent record that chronicles a story of love and fate. Keys plays a wonderful piano line on the chorus, which is actually a rendition of the records’ sample “Let Me Prove My Love to You” by The Main Ingredient. Released in 1974, “Let Me Prove My Love to You” is a perfect reflection of the times with its soulful appeal and stellar vocals. Forget dedicating the latest Justin Bieber song to your boyfriend or girlfriend. This is the song that will win them over.
  • King Crimson “21st Century Schizoid Man”

    The lyricism on Kanye West’s lead single “Power” for his fifth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was ferocious in approach, so naturally he and co-producer S1 used a sample that perfectly fit that stylistic tone. “21st Century Schizoid Man” from King Crimson is a whirlwind of dense drums, scattered horns and distorted vocals from singer Greg Lake. There’s almost no time to take a second and fully grasp this seven-minute record, but that’s what makes it so appealing. It’s a progressive rock masterpiece that’s just as exciting to listen to whether you’ve heard it once or a hundred times.