Samples of History: Kanye West, Soul-Stealer

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It goes without saying that Kanye West, who celebrated a birthday yesterday, is one of hip-hop’s greatest producers.

Taking a cue from the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, Kanye’s early work featured a lot samples from classic soul records from the 1970s. Artists from Jay-Z to Janet Jackson used Kanye’s soul sampling beats.

Here are a few of our favorite Kanye productions, and the sweet soul records Kanye sampled for them:

Alicia Keys “You Don’t Know My Name”

Built around a few samples from The Main Ingredient’s “Let Me Prove My Love To You,” Alicia Keys got her third top 10 single in the US with this song from her second album.

Slum Village “Selfish” (feat. Kanye West & John Legend)

T3 and Elzhi of Slum Village teamed up with Kanye and John Legend on this track that samples Aretha Franklin’s classic piano ballad, “Call Me.”

Twista “Overnight Celebrity”

Kanye gave this beat to his fellow Chicago hometown hero, Twista. “Overnight Celebrity” uses a sample of Lenny Williams’ “‘Cause I Love You.”

Scarface “Guess Who’s Back” (feat. Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel)

Kanye produced this single from Scarface’s critically acclaimed 2002 album, The Fix. The song samples Motown’s vocal group The Originals and their song “Sunrise.”

Kanye West “Spaceship” (feat. G.L.C. & Consequence)

Kanye’s tale about being a disgruntled employee at The Gap features a sample of Marvin Gaye’s classic balad “Distant Lover.”

Janet Jackson “I Want You”

This single from Janet’s Damita Jo album features a sample of B.T. Express’ cover of The Carpenters’ AM radio staple “(They Long To Be) Close To You.”

Nas “Poppa Was A Playa”

Although credited to Kanye’s mentor, Deric Angelettie (aka The Mad Rapper), Kanye actually ghostproduced this track from Nas’ The Lost Tapes album that samples Eddie Kendricks’ “The Newness Is Gone.”

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