In an era where words like “icon” are throw around way too loosely, today we mourn the loss of a true American icon.
Aretha Franklin was more than a voice. She was a musical genius, an unapologetic pioneer for cultural change and a blueprint for countless artists who would walk in the path she blazed.
Aretha was a queen. Music royalty.
But besides quintessential tracks like “Respect” and “Natural Woman,” some younger music fans – and even a few fans from my generation, to be real – might not be able to name many of her songs.
See, that’s the funny thing about being legendary – I’m willing to bet you know way more Aretha songs than you realize. She’s had an omnipresence over decades of music. You didn’t know it, but hip-hop introduced you to a lot of Aretha.
Let’s look at seven times some of your favorite artists sampled Aretha’s classics.
Mos Def, “Ms. Fat Booty”
Borrows from “One Step Ahead”
That heavenly voice backing Mos on (arguably) his best song? That’s Aretha.
3rd Bass, “The Gas Face”
Borrows from “Think”
3rd Bass’ contributions to hip-hop are woefully ignored, so I’ve gotta show them love here, along with saluting Aretha for her help supplying their most remembered hit.
Slum Village, “Selfish”
Borrows from “Call Me”
Aretha’s tinkling keys are instantly recognizable to Slum Village fans – they fueled their biggest hit.
Black Milk, “Three+Sum”
Borrows from “Tracks of My Tears”
Gotta be real with y’all, my personal biases are showing with his one: This is my favorite Black Milk song from my favorite Black Milk album, so I had to work it in.
Meek Mill, “War Pain”
Borrows from “You Are My Sunshine”
Y’all know I have to be in a generous mood to show Meek love but he did his thing with this one, thanks to Auntie Aretha of course.
Kanye West, “School Spirit”
Borrows from “Spirit in the Dark”
Kanye became a household name thanks to his hyperactive soul samples. When you want the best, you go to the queen.
Rapsody, “Laila’s Wisdom”
Borrows from “Young, Gifted and Black”
The title track to Rapsody’s phenomenal 2017 album is a tribute to her grandmother, and Aretha’s stirring vocals are the perfect fit.
Of course, there are many more times Aretha made your favorite rap songs better. What are your favorite samples that didn’t make the list? Let us know below.