Dark Light

Over the past few decades, hip hop and soul music have always had a close relationship, with some of the greatest rap producers drawing inspiration from the bygone eras of the ’60s and ’70s to create new classics.

This fusion of genres has led to some of the most iconic hip hop songs of all time. From the smooth, soulful melodies of artists like Marvin Gaye and Al Green, to the funky grooves of James Brown and Curtis Mayfield, hip hop producers have constantly turned to soul music as a source of inspiration.

On this list we take a look at classic tracks like Common’s “Love Is…” and DMX’s “No Sunshine” to Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” and Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” to present the 50 best hip hop songs that sample soul music.

50. Drake – “Middle of the Ocean”

Released: November 4, 2022

Producer: Oz, Nik D, Noel Cadastre, Sucuki, LOOF

Samples: “Cry Together” by The O’Jays

49. Elzhi ft. Royce da 5’9″ – “Motown 25”

Released: August 12, 2008

Producer: Black Milk

Samples: “True Love Can Be Beautiful” by The Ruffin Brothers

48. LL Cool J – “Around the Way Girl”

Released: November 20, 1990

Producer: Marley Marl, LL Cool J

Samples: “All Night Long” by Mary Jane Girls

47. The Game – “Dreams”

Released: June 7, 2005

Producer: Kanye West

Samples: “No Money Down” performed by Jerry Butler

46. Project Pat – “I Choose You”

Released: August 6, 2002

Producer: DJ Paul, Juicy J

Samples: “I Choose You” by Willie Hutch

45. Ghostface Killah – “Holla”

Released: April 20, 2004

Producer: Ghostface

Samples: “La La (Means I Love You)” by The Delfonics

44. Nipsey Hussle – “Blue Laces 2”

Released: February 16, 2018

Producer: Rance, Mr. Lee, Mike & Keys

Samples: “Hospital Prelude of Love Theme” by Willie Hutch

43. Capone-N-Noreaga – “Invincible”

Released: November 21, 2000

Producer: DJ Premier

Samples: “Hey Boy Over There” by Jimmie & Vella

42. Little Brother – “Lovin’ It”

Released: August 16, 2005

Producer: 9th Wonder

Samples: “One Night Affair” by The Stylistics

41. Kanye West – “Blood on the Leaves”

Released: June 18, 2013

Producer: Kanye West, Hudson Mohawke, Lunice, Carlos Broady (co.), 88-Keys (add.), Mike Dean (add.), Arca (add.)

Samples: “Strange Fruit” by Nina Simone

40. 21 Savage ft. J. Cole – “A Lot”

Released: January 8, 2019

Producer: DJ Dahi, J. White Did It

Samples: “I Love You” by East of Underground

39. Common – “Faithful”

Released: May 24, 2005

Producer: Kanye West

Samples: “Faithful to the End” by D. J. Rogers

38. Wu-Tang Clan – “Tearz”

Released: November 9, 1993

Producer: RZA

Samples: “After Laughter (Comes Tears)” by Wendy Rene

37. Big Daddy Kane – “Ain’t No Half-Steppin'”

Released: June 21, 1988

Producer: Marley Marl

Samples: “Blind Alley” by The Emotions

36. 50 Cent – “Ghetto Qur’an (Forgive Me)”

Released: May 21, 2002

Producer: Trackmasters

Samples: “Stop, Look, Listen (to Your Heart)” by Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye

35. 2Pac – “Me Against the World”

Released: March 14, 1995

Producer: Soulshock and Karlin

Samples: “Walk On By” by Isaac Hayes

34. Ghostface Killah – “After The Smoke Is Clear”

Released: October 29, 1996

Producer: RZA

Samples: “After The Smoke Is Clear” by Jimmy Ruffin

33. GZA ft. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Masta Killa & Inspectah Deck – “Duel of the Iron Mic”

Released: November 7, 1995

Producer: RZA

Samples: “I’m Afraid the Masquerade Is Over” by David Porter

32. J Dilla – “Won’t Do”

Released: August 22, 2006

Producer: J Dilla

Samples: ”Footsteps in the Dark” by The Isley Brothers

31. Jay-Z – “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)”

Released: September 11, 2001

Producer: Kanye West

Samples: “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” by Bobby Blue Bland

30. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Big Poppa”

Released: December 24, 1994

Producer: Chucky Thompson, Sean Combs

Samples: “Between the Sheets” by The Isley Brothers

29. AZ ft. Nas – “Mo Money, Mo Murder”

Released: October 10, 1995

Producer: DR Period

Samples: “Cry Together” by The O’Jays

28. The Diplomats – “I Really Mean It”

Released: March 25, 2003

Producer: Just Blaze

Samples: “I Got Over Love (Live)” by Major Harris

27. Ghostface Killah – “Malcolm”

Released: February 8, 2000

Producer: Choo the Specializt

Samples: “Going in Circles” by Isaac Hayes

26. Nas ft. AZ – “Life’s a Bitch”

Released: April 19, 1994

Producer: L.E.S.

Samples: “Yearning for Your Love” by The Gap Band

25. Kendrick Lamar – “The Heart Part 5”

Released: May 8, 2022

Producer: Beach Noise

Samples: “I Want You” by Marvin Gaye

24. Fugees – “Fu-Gee-La”

Released: February 13, 1996

Producer: Salaam Remi

Samples: “Ooo La La La” by Teena Marie

23. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Tha Crossroads”

Released: April 23, 1996

Producer: Tim Middleton

Samples: “Make Me Say It Again Girl Part 1 & 2” by The Isley Brothers

22. Blu & Exile – “O Heaven”

Released: September 4, 2012

Producer: Exile

Samples: “How High the Moon” by Ella Fitzgerald

21. Masta Ace – “Good Ol’ Love”

Released: August 3, 2004

Producer: 9th Wonder

Samples: “Hospital Prelude of Love Theme” by Willie Hutch

20. Jay-Z – “American Dreamin”

Released: November 6, 2007

Producer: Diddy, Sean C, LV, Mario Winans

Samples: “Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again” by Marvin Gaye

19. Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx – “Gold Digger”

Released: July 5, 2005

Producer: Kanye West, Jon Brion

Samples: “I Got a Woman” by Ray Charles

18. Common – “The Light”

Released: July 18, 2000

Producer: J Dilla

Samples: “Open Your Eyes” by Bobby Caldwell

17. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “Take You There”

Released: November 8, 1994

Producer: Pete Rock

Samples: “Risin’ to the Top” by Keni Burke

16. 2Pac ft. Richie Rich – “Ratha Be Ya Ni**a”

Released: February 13, 1996

Producer: Doug Rasheed

Samples: “I’d Rather Be with You” by Bootsy’s Rubber Band

15. Jay Electronica – “Exhibit C”

Released: December 22, 2009

Producer: Just Blaze

Samples: “Cross My Heart” by Billy Stewart

14. Jay-Z – “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”

Released: July 28, 2001

Producer: Kanye West

Samples: “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5

13. UGK ft. OutKast – “International Players Anthem (I Choose You)”

Released: June 6, 2007

Producer: DJ Paul, Juicy J

Samples: “I Choose You” by Willie Hutch

12. Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”

Released: November 19, 1992

Producer: Dr. Dre

Samples: “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You” by Leon Haywood

11. Fugees – “Killing Me Softly”

Released: May 27, 1996

Producer: Fugees

Samples: “Killing Me Softly with His Song” by Roberta Flack

10. Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Otis”

Released: July 20, 2011

Producer: Kanye West

Samples: “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding

9. The Notorious B.I.G. – “One More Chance / Stay with Me (Remix)”

Released: June 6, 1995

Producer: Sean “Puffy” Combs, Rashad Smith

Samples: “Stay with Me” by DeBarge

8. Common – “Love Is…”

Released: May 24, 2005

Producer: J Dilla

Samples: “God Is Love” by Marvin Gaye

7. DMX – “No Sunshine”

Released: March 13, 2001

Producer: Dame Grease

Samples: “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers

6. Cam’ron ft. Juelz Santana – “Oh Boy”

Released: April 2, 2002

Producer: Just Blaze

Samples: “I’m Going Down” by Rose Royce

5. Wu-Tang Clan – “C.R.E.A.M.”

Released: January 31, 1994

Producer: RZA

Samples: “As Long as I’ve Got You” by The Charmels

4. Mobb Deep – “Drop a Gem on ‘Em”

Released: August 25, 1996

Producer: Havoc

Samples: “Can’t Help but Love You” by The Whispers

3. Jay-Z – “Song Cry”

Released: September 11, 2001

Producer: Just Blaze

Samples: “Sounds Like a Love Song” by Bobby Glenn

2. Ice Cube – “It Was a Good Day”

Released: February 23, 1993

Producer: DJ Pooh

Samples: “Footsteps in the Dark” by The Isley Brothers

1. Mos Def – “Ms. Fat Booty”

Released: August 2, 1999

Producer: Ayatollah

Samples: “One Step Ahead” by Aretha Franklin

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