Music is a powerful thing. Ever listen to a song for the first time, get all the feels and not know why? Next thing you know you’re screaming “omg this is a vibeee” and your friends are looking at you thinking, “I mean, it’s ok…”
You’ve likely been samploozled. You’d be surprised how many of our favourite tracks have a far too familiar sample or bass chord we didn’t realise we were in love with lingering somewhere in the background. Samples when mastered are nothing less than a genius method of engaging listeners by either using another artists’ music as inspiration with a modern twist, or by simply taking a listener back to a beautiful time and place- we all love a bit of nostalgia.
Brits + Pieces have brought together this list of songs by Black British artists that have used samples brilliantly. This one is for our music veterans so we’ve left out the likes of Stormzy’s Dizzee Rascal sample in “Where do You Know me from” and included only the juiciest and (hopefully) jaw-dropping stuff! So… crank it up, sit on it and let it move ya. Surely you didn’t think we’d write a post on samples without using one of our own? Thanks Jenny 😉
- Ray BLK- talk to me- You don’t know my name
We’ll start off easy just to warm you up… You probably knew that Ray BLK sampled Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know my Name” on her 2015 hit “Talk to Me” because well… she told us in the song. This use of sampling is a perfect example of getting those feels I mentioned. Ray BLK has made an art of her ability to use trigger lines from some of her favourite artists and incorporating them into her own music so seamlessly and uniquely. No doubt Ray’s songs always sound 100% Ray, but usually have that extra flare that not only warms our hearts with nostalgia but also somehow make us feel like we’re friends with her!? Knowing we loved the same songs is one part, but being able to sing along to parts of her new releases from the first listen is what truly makes it feel like a girly sleepover. Give it up for Ray BLK and her lyric sampling superpowers!
- Stormzy- Velvet- NAO- Like Velvet
We’re celebrating not one but two Black Brits on this one, so I smile extra hard as I write this. While this sample is fairly easy to spot as producer Francis T. Smith did not significantly engineer NAO’s vocals for the hook, many of us weren’t too sure where it came from. That’s right, it’s a sample of our very own East London bred NAO’s debut album intro- “Intro (Like Velvet). Stormzy chose to delve into a slightly different genre for this song and found the perfect ally in funky electronic/R&B artist NAO to do it.
- Stormzy- Wicked Skengman 4- sounds like JME Serious- both sample Eminem Who Knew
Yes, it’s Stormzy again because our boy really knows how to make use of a sample, so we’re giving him the acknowledgement he deserves! We probably all know that on Wicked Skengman 4, Stormzy sampled JME- “Serious”, the UK’s 2008 national anthem and a song we all somehow have never forgotten all of the lyrics to… despite not necessarily knowing our real national anthem. Concerning. But anyway, what you likely didn’t know is that JME sampled Eminem’s “Who Knew” on “Serious”. Who knew right!? Wicked Skengman 4 impressively causes a chemical reaction in our reflex nerve endings and erects our gunshot fingers, on play. So a special thanks to both JME and Eminem for this gem.
- Mabel ft Kojo Funds- Finders Keepers- Diwali Riddim
You probably didn’t notice there was a sample on this song, you may even still be struggling to hear it after listening to the soundbites. It’s ok, you’re not alone. And on that note let’s give a round of applause to Jordan D. Ried who produced this track and has done an amazing job of tapping into our sub-conscience to take us back to the noughties and make a small part of us want to slow whine in a sweaty basement in batty riders or a string vest. If you listen closely you’ll hear that Ried has sampled Steven “Lenkey” Marsden’s 2002 “Diwali Riddim” in the instrumental for this song, which is what gives it a dash of the signature noughties bashment/dancehall sound. Think Sean Paul- “Get Busy”- you hear it right? Surprise surprise, Diwali Riddim was sampled on this song too. In fact here’s a list of all your favourite noughties international dancehall charters that Lenkey’s riddim had something to do with.
- Nines- Gave it all to You- Aaliyah Never No More
Nines did a very good and a very wise thing on this song. There is no such thing as a mistake in sampling Aaliyah’s classic “Never No More”. Released in 2014 on his third mixtape, it was most definitely his intention to take us back to a different time and place. Considering time is moving at a million mph, you may need me to remind you that UK rap had a very different sound in 2014; for reference, this is when Yungen & Sneakbo released “Ain’t on Nuttin”. Nines took us back to a time where UK rap artists were big on sampling US R&B classics and sound quality was humble, to say the least. Thanks, Nines your nostalgic sample hasn’t gone unappreciated!
- Nines Handle It- Usher Can You Handle It
Safe to say Nines is secretly a 90s to noughties R&B lover as he slows it down for us once again on this self-produced track featured on his second mixtape, “Gone Till November” released in 2013. He’s come a long way since then but we want to appreciate his artistry in his early days in producing this love song to his childhood experiences growing up in North West London. An intelligent way to put a twist on Usher’s love-making song and spin the question “can you handle it?” in a very different slightly darker direction, whilst still making us want to seduce our lovers to the song. A somewhat conflicting listening experience… but still enjoyable nonetheless.
- WSTRN- Ben Ova- 169 Aah
This is one of those samples that makes you really appreciate a music producer’s ear. Our West London boys have written yet another vibe with dancehall influence on a beat that samples the renowned “aaah!” sound bite from Roland’s vocal effects instrument. Yes, it’s the same sample used in Nelly and Kelly Rowland’s “Dilemma” and the likes of Ty Dolla Sign, Desiigner, Nicki Minaj, Future and a whole load of other artists have made good use of it too. What a simple way to give us a dose of feel-good while listening to this song that almost goes unnoticed!
- Kideko and George Kwali feat. Nadia Rose and Sweetie Irie Nadia Rose- Crank It- C + C music Factory- Keep it Comin’
This London Brighton collab has one mission and one mission only… to make us ‘ava laugh, so what better sample to use other than the C+C Music Factory’s “Keep it Comin’”? Listen to the original and email us if you can stop yourself from doing the running man. I’ll personally pay you a tenner. With Kideko’s dance music expertise, Kwali’s House beats, Nadia’s infectious flow and Irie’s Dancehall twist, collaboration between these very different artists was bound to end up sounding like a good time.
- Jorja Smith- Blue Lights – April Orchestra
Not only does our home grown love Jorja pay homage to the OG triple OG Dizzee Rascal in this song by referencing his 2007 Top 20 UK hit “Sirens”, but producers Engine Earz & Joice play around with a sample from French Composers Guy Bonnet and Roland Romalli’s “April Orchestra vol. 38- Amour, émoi… et vous (Love, emotion… and you)”. Their heavily synthesised sound was far beyond their time when the track was produced in 1981 which might explain why it works so effortlessly well on a 2016 song cry about Jorja’s hometown, with the addition of just a simple drum sequence to accompany.
- Ella Mai- Nobody Else – If You Love Me Brownstones
While it’s clear there is a sample used on the instrumental for this track, the song itself that has been sampled isn’t too clear. This Brownstones’ line “so don’t just say things that I’ve already heard” from their 1994 hit “If you Love me” is a perfect fit for Mai’s similarly themed tune. From 1994 to 2017 the ladies can all relate on feeling unappreciated by their lovers and being left vulnerable, leading them all to give the ultimatum “it’s my way, or no way” as Mai so bad bitchedly puts it. DJ Mustard is written all over this beat as he’s done what he does best and incorporated in a sample that has been manipulated just enough to sound brand new and add a pop twist to this R&B vibe. In short, sample wizardry.