Five Great Jimi Hendrix Samples in Hip-Hop Songs

Thumbnail image for Jimi-singing.jpg
​ Today is officially Jimi Hendrix-Winterland Day in San Francisco, which is a fine excuse to soundtrack the rest of your afternoon with a dose of Hendrix's classic guitar grooves. But beyond the deceased guitarist's own oeuvre, his music has received a second life as the sample source for a fair few rap classics. So with some of hip-hop's most lauded producers nattily plundering from Jimi's vault, here's a count down of five of the very best Hendrix samples.


5. Digital Underground, "The Way We Swing"
Sample: "Who Knows?"
Shock G's astute sample ear was seemingly so smitten with Jimi's brooding and bluesy opening guitar riff on "Who Knows?" that he flipped it into the signature sample for the Underground's freaky statement of intent. "You're just a sucker hip-hop borrower," spits Shock at one point in the song, although were Jimi around to hear "The Way We Swing" we suspect he'd likely appreciate the homage.


4. A Tribe Called Quest, "If The Papes Come"
Sample: "EXP"
Blue Note jazz organist Lou Donaldson's "Pot Belly" forms the basis of the beat for what is effectively a solo sure-shot from Q-Tip here. But Tribe's leader gets props for utilizing a vocal grab from Jimi's leftfield-leaning "EXP" to close out the proceedings, as the warped voice warns, "Thank you. As you all know you just can't believe you see and hear, can you? Now if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way..."


3. The Pharcyde, "Passing Me By"
Sample: "Are You Experienced"
The Pharcyde's "Passing Me By" is one of hip-hop's few tender love songs. The rapped laments about unrequited crushes may take place over a production formed from Quincy Jones's "Summer In The City," but the quirky Left Coast crew invoked the backwards-sounding tape-loop effects from Jimi's "Are You Experienced" to spark things off with suitably poignant effect.


2. K.M.D., "Constipated Monkey"
Sample: "Belly Button Window"
Before he donned a metal mask and spent his days cultivating an impressive beer-belly, MF Doom cast himself as Zev Love X and headed up the group K.M.D. with his brother Sub Roc and Onyx the Birthstone Kid. The group's second album is enshrined in the annals of rap folklore after being originally shelved by Elektra over its cover artwork and title (Black Bastards). The track "Constipated Monkey" snuck out, however, as the B-side to the intended lead single "What A Nigga Know?" The Hendrix link comes from the way Zev hooked up the opening snatch of the stripped-down "Belly Button Window" to carry the K.M.D. message.


1. Beastie Boys, "Jimmy James"
(Selected) Samples: "EXP," "Foxy Lady," "Happy Birthday," "Still Raining, Still Dreaming."
More than just a case of sampling Jimi's music, here the Beasties penned something of a tribute to the rock god's life -- although that didn't stop the Hendrix estate from at one point attempting to halt the song's release. (The estate eventually relented, hence the existence of the "Original Original Version" of the song.) Culled from the Beastie's Check Your Head album, the track is a top slice of scuzzy, distorted funk, being brilliantly propelled by a liberal helping of "Happy Birthday," Jimi's own collaboration with Curtis Knight.

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2 comments
Launchballer
Launchballer

What about E-Zee Possee - Everything Starts With An 'E'?

Plain Talk
Plain Talk

Check out my book--Nobody Cages Me on Jimi Hendrix.  I have a chapter called Hip-Hop Hendrix, where I make several connections between Hip-Hop and Jimi Hendrix.  I also cover Rap samples of Jimi.  I think my number one Hip-Hop Jimi sample was Cypress Hill--How I could just Kill a man.---Sample: Have you ever been experienced?

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