These unexpected crossovers live in our head rent-free.
Beautiful things can happen when Hip-Hop comes together with other genres.
Be it the jazz fusion that came about with old-school Hip-Hop or the rap-rock crossovers that took over the 2000s, it's nothing new for rappers to borrow elements from artists outside their primary genre. Surprising samples can be found in Hip-Hop since the genre's inception in the '70s and '80s.
But thanks to the encyclopedic nature of the Internet, easy access to a stockpile of new music has allowed producers to be more creative in the last decade than ever before. Now, it's commonplace for mainstream rappers to borrow sounds from indie bands.
Below, we've listed eight well-known rap songs that include prominent samples of some independent musicians.
Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees” samples Beach House’s “Silver Soul”
When Kendrick Lamar released his major label debut, 2012's Good Kid, m.A.A.d City, "Money Trees" didn't quite reach the same level of ubiquity as some of the album's other hits like "m.A.A.d. City" or "Swimming Pools." But, thanks to a viral TikTok dance, "Money Trees" is experiencing a resurgence in popularity — as is Beach House, the dream pop band behind the song's sample.Famous rappers have long had an affinity for Beach House; remember when Jay-Z and Beyonce famously attended one of their gigs in 2010? Since then, the Baltimore duo have been sampled in a number of rap songs, but "Money Trees" remains the best utilization of their ethereal sound.
ScHoolboy Q’s “Man of the Year” samples Chromatics’ “Cherry”
As we've learned from this list, dream pop and hip-hop are a perfect match when done well. ScHoolboy Q's 2014 song "Man of the Year" exemplifies this, with its entire instrumental based around a sample of Chromatics' hypnotic "Cherry." A song about big boobs and butts has never sounded so dreamy.
Lil Peep’s “Beamer Boy” samples the Microphones’ “Headless Horseman”
Honestly, Lil Peep's catalog could populate this entire list. Indie favorites like the Postal Service, Modern Baseball, and Modest Mouse can all be heard in beats used by the late emo rapper, who often teamed up with producers who had a deep love of rock music. But to indie rock nerds, the most surprising Peep cut would likely be "Beamer Boy." The track slows down the acoustic guitar riff from "Headless Horseman," a 2001 song by Phil Elverum, who then recorded under his solo moniker, the Microphones."I was aware of [Lil Peep] when he was alive and knew that he sampled my songs," Elverum told Stereogum in 2018. "But when I first saw his videos I was like, 'Argh! No! Yuck!' I just really didn't get it, and I think it's just because I'm old, honestly. It's a thing for people who are 20 years younger than me, or younger. It's one of the first times I felt truly alienated from, you know, kids these days. But I mostly just felt bad. I didn't want to be associated with it, but also I didn't want to be a hard ass. I'm mostly fine with anyone using my music for whatever. Everything's just compost that gets reused."
A$AP Rocky’s “Angels” samples Imogen Heap’s “Headlock”
With tracks like "L$D," "Electric Body," and "Canal Street," A$AP Rocky is an underrated user of unconventional samples. On "Angels," from his 2013 breakthrough LONG.LIVE.A$AP, he uses a prominent sample of an Imogen Heap song (years before Ariana Grande covered her "Goodnight and Go").
J. Cole’s “She Knows” samples Cults’s “Bad Things”
The addictive shuffling beat and piano melody of J. Cole's "She Knows" are courtesy of New York City band Cults, whose initial releases were praised heavily by indie music blogs. While J. Cole's verses — paired with backup vocals from Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman — are a welcome addition, the song's instrumental is where it truly shines.
Doja Cat’s “Bottom B*tch” samples blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?”
From the thumping EDM bass of "Boss B*tch" to the blues swagger of "Freak," Doja Cat is one of the most versatile rappers to come up in the past few years. Throw in the relaxed, SoCal skater mood of "Bottom B*tch," and it's clear that Doja has no intention to box herself in to any specific subgenre.
Pop-punk legends blink-182 have songwriting credits on "Bottom B*tch," which — thanks to production by Yeti Beats — features a slowed and transposed sample of "What's My Age Again?" Unsurprisingly, the vibe suits Doja perfectly.
Young Thug's “Me or Us” samples Bright Eyes's “First Day of My Life”
Young Thug has always been known for challenging the status quo of Hip-Hop. Still, when the rapper announced his 2017 mixtape Beautiful Thugger Girls would be a "singing album," nobody could've expected that it would include an interpolation of "First Day of My Life" by emo-folk icons Bright Eyes.
Asher Roth’s “I Love College” samples Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So”
If you haven't even thought about Asher Roth's 2009 hit "I Love College" in the last ten years, we can't blame you. The track's creepy vibes easily detract from the fact that it samples the bass and guitar melodies from Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" — although, for some reason, the pairing isn't that surprising.