The Best 2000s Era Hip-Hop/R&B Samples From The Last Five Years

Sampling has been an important element in Hip-Hop and R&B for many decades, and two or so years into the 2020s, that hasn’t changed in the slightest. In fact, samples appear to be more popular than ever. Whether you have been keeping a close eye on the surging Bronx Sample Drill scene in New York or have heard popular tracks from rising acts like Fivio Foreign or Jack Harlow on the radio, you’ve probably noticed it.

Yet what’s more interesting than the frequency of samples — which statistically speaking, may or may not actually be that much higher than years past — is the era in which artists have been pulling their samples from. While ’90s samples remain extremely popular — look no further than Latto’s enduring Mariah Carey-sampling hit “Big Energy” — several Hip-Hop and R&B artists have started to lean more into the iconic sounds of the 2000s, but countless fans have actually voiced their disdain for the trend on social media. 

Some fans may see the trend as lazy, unoriginal, and antithetical to the progression of Hip-Hop and R&B, but according to Young Guru, this “2000s sampling issue” isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon.

As the Grammy award-winning DJ, producer, and engineer puts it, it was common practice for 20-year-old records from 1974 to be tapped for songs in 1994, so as time goes on and our favorite genres continue to evolve, it only makes sense that the records being sampled will continue to progress as well.

In the ’90s, 2Pac’s “Dear Mama” prominently sampled Joe Sample’s 1978 hit “In All My Wildest Dreams,” and OutKast utilized a rock sample of Genesis’ 1973 cut “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” for “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.” In the 2000s, Bow Wow and Omarion’s classic “Let Me Hold You” collab featured a flip of Luther Vandross’ 1985 track “If Only for One Night,” and Kanye West famously sampled Chaka Khan’s 1985 hit “Through The Fire.” In the 2010s, Kendrick Lamar’s Drake-assisted GKMC single “Poetic Justice” chopped up Janet Jackson’s 1993 hit “Any Time, Any Place,” and Bryson Tiller’s Grammy-nominated hit single “Exchange” sampled K.P. & Envyi’s late ’90s hit “Swing My Way.”

The popularity of samples used tends to shift from decade to decade. Therefore, all of the 2000s samples that we’ve been hearing in popular music are not the result of a forced trend in the music industry, but rather a sign of the times. To further illustrate that the increasing popularity of 2000s-era music in Hip-Hop and R&B isn’t a random fad that started over the last year or so, here are 16 of the best 2000s samples from the last five years. 


A$AP Rocky — “Purity” (2018) 

Sample: Lauryn Hill — “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind” (2002)

A$AP Rocky’s third studio album, Testing, culminated with “Purity,” a gorgeous track that comes laced with both a rare Frank Ocean feature and an entrancing Lauryn Hill sample. However, as opposed to the other major Lauryn Hill sample of 2018 — look no further than Drake’s “Nice For What” — Rocky’s song sourced its Lauryn Hill sample from the early 2000s. “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind,” a cut from her live album MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, is the lifeblood of the track, and considering that — like Rocky’s Testing — Lauryn Hill’s live album was heavily criticized for its major stylistic departure from its acclaimed predecessor, the soulful, guitar-strum ballad made for the perfect sample on “Purity.” Furthermore, the A$AP Rocky, FNZ, Dean Blunt, and Hector Delgado-produced track showed Hip-Hop’s willingness to pull from some of the more obscure songs of the 2000s.


Rae Sremmurd — “Powerglide” (2018)

Sample: Three 6 Mafia  “Side 2 Side” (2005)

In contrast to A$AP Rocky’s 2000s R&B sample on “Purity,” Rae Sremmurd’s third single for their third studio album, SR3MM, sampled a popular Southern Hip-Hop hit from 2005: Three 6 Mafia’s “Side 2 Side.” “Powerglide” is essentially a modernized version of the Memphis classic, as it borrows both its iconic instrumental and interpolates DJ Paul’s infectious hook. Needless to say, Rae Sremmurds’s Mike WiLL Made-It, Jean-Marie Horvat, and Mally Mall-produced single was one of the most popular songs of Summer 2018, proving that the interest in 2000s samples was already prevalent in the late 2010s. Just three months after its release, “Powerglide” was certified platinum, and as fans patiently await SremmLife 4, the track has recently been bumped up to triple platinum status.


DJ Khaled & SZA — “Just Us” (2019)

Sample: OutKast  “Ms. Jackson” (2000)

DJ Khaled’s eleventh studio album, Father of Asahd, is best known for undeniable hits like “Top Off” with Jay-Z, Future, and Beyoncé, “No Brainer” with Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, and “Just Us” with SZA, and the latter track won fans over with its easily recognizable 2000s sample. As soon as “Just Us” comes on, a slowed-down version of OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson” instrumental rolls in, and SZA’s soaring hook sounds perfect over the nostalgic production. “Just Us” is one of only four songs from Father of Asahd to go platinum, so it’s probably safe to say that the 2000s Hip-Hop sample played a major role in the success of DJ Khaled and SZA’s rare R&B collab. 


Mahalia — “What You Did” (2019)

Sample: Cam’ron  “Oh Boy” (2002)

British Jamaican singer-songwriter Mahalia has long been one of the most promising talents to watch in the UK, but with the release of “What You Did” with Ella Mai in 2019, she started finding her way onto charts across the world, from New Zealand to the United States. In addition to its nostalgic ’90s-themed music video, “What You Did” features a sonic nod to the 2000s, sampling Cam’ron’s Grammy-nominated single “Oh Boy.” 


Erica Banks — “Buss It” (2020)

Sample: Nelly  “Hot In Herre” (2002)

Erica Banks’ “Buss It” may forever be linked to its viral TikTok challenge in 2021, but the newly platinum-certified hit single was actually released on May 15, 2020. In addition to its earworm of a hook, “Buss It” employs a sample of Nelly’s classic “Girl, I think my butt gettin’ big” line from his 2002 Nellyville single “Hot In Herre.”


Rod Wave — “Letter From Houston” (2020)

Sample: Vistoso Bosses   Delirious” (2009)

Rod Wave’s catalog is loaded with soulful samples, but his Pray For Love (Deluxe) cut “Letter from Houston” features one of the best and most obscure 2000s samples in recent memory. The short track begins with a clip of Vistoso Bosses’ debut single, “Delirious,” and afterward, the sample of the female Atlanta duo is slowed down and seamlessly weaved into Rod Wave’s melancholic track. If you’re someone who appreciates a sample that can really jog your memory, then you have to hear “Letter from Houston.”


K Camp — “Tatted Up” (2020)

Sample: D4L   “Tattoos” (2007)

K Camp’s early 2020s comeback may have been fueled by the viral TikTok success of “Lottery (Renegade),” but his awe-inspiring run was solidified with the release of Kiss Five on April 24, 2020. Among the best cuts on the album was “Tatted Up,” and it bridged old Atlanta and new Atlanta by featuring both a sample of D4L’s 2007 single “Tattoos” and a guest verse by Fabo himself. 


Lucky Daye — “Over” (2021)

Sample: Musiq Soulchild   “Halfcrazy” (2002)

Last fall, Lucky Daye kicked off the rollout of his sophomore studio album with the release of “Over,” and like the rest of Candydrip, it exemplifies Lucky Daye’s knack for making R&B that blends old-school sounds with a modern aesthetic. “Over” features a slightly slowed-down sample of Musiq Soulchild’s first Juslisen single, “Halfcrazy,” and the end result is phenomenal. 


Baby Keem — “Scars” (2021) 

Sample: Kanye West   “Love Lockdown” (2008)

Baby Keem’s debut studio album, The Melodic Blue, was one of the most adventurous mainstream rap albums of 2021, and from its features to its samples, it demonstrated how much Hip-Hop has evolved over the years. Its eleventh track, “Scars,” really put contemporary rap into perspective because it sampled one of the culture’s most infamous samplers of all time: Kanye West. Rather than pulling from one of Ye’s early classics, however, Baby Keem pulled from Ye’s groundbreaking fourth studio album, 808s & Heartbreak. The thunderous drums from “Love Lockdown,” the album’s lead single, can be heard throughout “Scars,” giving Keem’s Melodic Blue cut an intense sense of urgency and an acute sense of nostalgia.


MoneyBagg Yo — “Wockesha” (2021)

Sample: Ashanti   “Foolish” (2002)

HNHH crowned “Wockesha” the best song of 2021, but whether or not you fully agree with that designation, there’s no denying how catchy this track was. Yet while MoneyBagg Yo most certainly came correct on “Wockesha,” much of its success can be attributed to its iconic 2000s samples. In addition to the most prominent sample of Ashanti’s “Foolish” — and as a result, The Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance” and DeBarge’s “Stay With Me” as well —  MoneyBagg Yo samples Lil Wayne’s 2009 interview with Tim Westwood, in which he talks about the pros and cons that come with his lean addiction.


Nicki Minaj — “Seeing Green” (2021)

Sample: Heather Headley   “In My Mind” (2005)

 

Everyone from Jeezy and Big K.R.I.T. to Young M.A. and Polo G has sampled Heather Headley’s 2005 track “In My Mind,” but after the reissue of Nicki Minaj’s Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape in 2021, no spin on “In My Mind” will likely ever top Nicki’s version. “Seeing Green” features Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Drake all on the same track, and to make an already epic Young Money reunion even more memorable, producers GOVI and Kid Masterpiece expertly chopped up the outro of “In My Mind” to make “Seeing Green” feel even more grandiose. 


Bobby Sessions — “Cog In The Machine” (2021) 

Sample: N.E.R.D.   “Sooner or Later” (2008)

Last summer, Dallas, Texas rapper Bobby Sessions unleashed his debut album Manifest, and one of its first singles was “Cog In The Machine.” The song heavily samples N.E.R.D.’s classic Seeing Sounds track “Sooner or Later,” and despite his rookie status, Bobby Sessions’ incredible performance on “Cog In The Machine” did Pharrell and Chad Hugo’s original 2008 version justice.

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