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One of music's most iconic samples ever comes from a hip-hop legend

Using old songs to make new ones is hip-hop's greatest innovation. Introducing "Just a Sample," quick reflections on some of the most iconic samples in hip-hop history.


Sampling — using portions of an existing song to create a new one — is my favorite hip-hop innovation. Producers have always found unique ways to incorporate other genres into their music, which speaks to hip-hop’s innate ingenuity. And that’s why hip-hop producers, like DJ Premier to Metro Boomin, are some of the most knowledgeable music enthusiasts you’ll find. They spend hours searching for samples in jazz songs, country songs, classical songs and more. 

As a sample-loving producer myself, I'm obsessed with listening to songs and trying to identify the sample an artist has used. So I’m debuting a new miniseries celebrating some of the most iconic samples in hip-hop history. 

These won’t be too heavy. Just a lil’ taste of what the genre has to offer. Hence the series' name: “Just a Sample.” Get it?

"Change The Beat" 

Here’s a song called “Change The Beat” by hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, featuring vocals by Beside. It’s one of the most-sampled songs of all time. And you’ve probably heard the sample, even if you didn’t know it. 

Listen here: 

That little clip of Fab 5 Freddy saying “This beat is fresh” has been used in countless songs over the years. If you hear a scratch on a record, there's a strong chance it’s Fab’s voice. Here are a few: 

"Rockit" — Herbie Hancock

Listen for the scratch at 2:52.

"I’m A Slave 4 U" — Britney Spears

Listen for the scratch at 1:44.


Listen for the scratch at 0:30 and 0:38.

"Don’t Stop The Party" — Pitbull ft. TJR

Listen for the scratch at 0:34.

"I Wanna Sex You Up” — Color Me Badd

Listen for the scratch around 2:37.

This post is part of MSNBC’s “Hip-Hop Is Universal” series, which celebrates the genre’s 50th anniversary and examines its future.