'90s Rap's Borrowed Hooks
by Jason Gubbels | June 14, 2013
At this stage in the hip-hop game, even casual fans can spot the killer drum samples and bass lines that have propelled many a seminal rap track. (Hey there, "Funky Drummer"; looking at you, "Mystic Brew." But it's easy to forget the other half of the sampling equation -- how so many of hip-hop's greatest tracks have borrowed mightily from the undeniable melodic hooks and choruses of previous pop, soul, and funk hits.
Sometimes these allusions are subtle, as when Ice Cube and DJ Pooh lifted the slinky guitars off of The Isley Brothers' 1977 "Footsteps in the Dark" for 1993's no. 1 hit "It Was a Good Day." Other artists have been more blatant in their borrowings, as witness MC Hammer and Coolio's wholesale plundering of Rick James and Stevie Wonder, respectively. And sometimes you just have to marvel at a given producer's golden ears and/or resourcefulness (where did Timbaland come across the Abdul Halim Hafez melody that helped propel "Big Pimpin'"?).
So in the spirit of knowing your history, here's a playlist offering 18 big hip-hop hits from the 1990s, preceded in each case by the song sampled or interpolated within it. From Michael McDonald lending Warren G. his groove to the almost-forgotten Ronnie Hudson graciously giving Tupac Shakur his greatest chorus, it's time to pay your respects.