The Top 10 Most Popular Samples of 2012


2012 has been another interesting year for sample based music: Hip Hop from the underground continued on its quest to seek out increasingly unlikely sample sources, The Alchemist‘s use of Russian obscurities in his ‘Russian Roulette’ album being a notable example. Beat makers and producers from the left field continued to find ever more creative ways to manipulate sampled sounds into their compositions and the various sub-genres emerging from the worlds of Dubstep, House and Garage put new twists on established sampling practices within their genres. Sampling’s strong presence in the mainstream continued in 2012, with sample heavy albums from the likes of Kanye and Kendrick receiving critical acclaim and samples appearing in RnB and Pop music by artists ranging from Rihanna to Miguel and Frank Ocean.

So, here we have our Top 10 ‘hottest’ samples of the year – the most viewed samples on WhoSampled relating to records released in 2012:

Kendrick10) Kendrick Lamar’s Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst sample of Grant Green’s Maybe Tomorrow

If Hip Hop belonged to one man in 2012 it was almost undoubtedly Kendrick Lamar, his ‘Good Kid m.A.A.d City’ album topping end of year lists wherever you care to look. It’s little surprise then that Lamar makes no fewer than three appearances in our Top 10. Here, in the epic 12 minute ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst’, Lamar’s producers lift a sublime 4 bar loop from Grant Green‘s 1971 Blue Note jazz guitar classic ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ placing it atop Bill Withers‘ oft sampled ‘Use Me drum break and lacing the result with sweeping strings.

r31931_2012726_2148381833119) Rick Ross feat. Dr. Dre and Jay-Z’s 3 Kings sample of Crowns of Glory’s I’m So Grateful (Keep in Touch)

Ross‘s ‘God Forgives, I Don’t’ album dominated our hot samples list on release but of all of the tracks to use samples, it was this Jake One production featuring Dr. Dre and Jay-Z that garnered the most attention. Deftly chopping vocals and instrumentation from Crowns of Glory‘s gospel tinged soul cut ‘I’m So Grateful‘, and setting them against crashing drums, this track oozes energy.

Kendrick8) Kendrick Lamar feat. Jay Rock’s Money Trees sample of Beach House’s Silver Soul

The second of three Lamar tracks in the Top 10, this track typifies the sound that made this one of the must have albums of 2012. Sampling a prominent passage from Beach House’s smoothed out, hypnotic ‘Silver Soul’ this DJ Dahi beat is laced with subtle blend of rising synths and boom / clap drums to create an entirely new mood.

r24149_2012120_458425857337) Schoolboy Q feat. A$AP Rocky’s Hands on the Wheel sample of Lissie’s Pursuit of Happiness

‘Crush a bit, little bit, roll it up, take a hit’, so goes the vocal contained in Lissie‘s Pursuit of Happiness, a rocky tale of self destruction liberally borrowed in Schoolboy Q‘s ‘Hands on the Wheel’. The atmospheric, downtempo, 808 backed result offers an infectious backing to Q and A$AP‘s half time / double time ‘weed and brew’ raps.

r53041_2012920_1720234970746) Kanye West, Big Sean and Jay-Z’s Clique sample of James Brown’s Funky President

If asked to name the one mainstream Hip Hop artist still consistently using samples in his music, Kanye West would be the first name to trip off most people’s tongues. And he’s not afraid to revisit the classic samples much plundered in 80s and 90s hip hop either. In this, the first of two tracks in the top ten from his Cruel Summer album / compilation, Kanye subtly lifts James Brown‘s iconic ‘Hey’ from Funky President to add a rhythmic texture to his late summer hit ‘Clique’.

r5875_2012315_25539850435) Wiz Khalifa’s O.N.I.F.C. sample of Deadmau5 and Kaskade’s I Remember

Borrowing a prominent synth hook from Deadmau5 and Kaskade‘s ‘I Remember’, Wiz Kahlifa‘s ‘O.N.I.F.C’ taken from his Taylor Alordice Mixtape, drops the tempo a good 40bpm from the original source to create what you might describe as a track with an ‘of the moment’ feel that offers a suitable backdrop for Khalifa’s ‘I’m rich as f***’ brag rap.

r3765_2012623_1513287126674) Flo Rida’s I Cry sample of Bingo Players’s Cry (Just a Little)

Utilising Dutch Electro House duo Bingo Players‘ ‘Cry’ more or less in its entirety, the Florida pop rapper had a wordwide commercial dance hit with his version of the track, ‘I Cry’. However, the vocal sample in the Bingo Players’ track from which the track takes its name in fact originates from Brenda Russell‘s ’80s pop ballad ‘Piano In The Dark’.

r2_20121026_1212157695993) Kendrick Lamar feat. Dr. Dre’s The Recipe sample of Twin Sister’s Meet the Frownies

Lifting an unlikely vocal hook from the somber Pop-Rock of Twin Sister‘s 2010 track ‘Meet The Frownies’, Lamar‘s collaboration with Dr. Dre. ‘The Recipe’ set the mood for what would go on to become the runaway hit album of the year.

r32163_201242_118369731582) Pitbull’s Back in Time sample of Mickey & Sylvia’s Love Is Strange

Appearing on the Men in Black 3 soundtrack, Pitbull‘s ‘Back in Time’ lifted a Rhythm n Blues hook from Mickey & Sylivia‘s 1950s classic ‘Love is Strange’ in this Pop-House-Rap hit. Mickey Baker of the duo died in November of this year, a little more than a year after the death of partner Sylvia Robinson, famously responsible for founding Sugar Hill Records.

r59035_20121112_12521632071) Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz’s Mercy sample of Super Beagle’s Dust a Sound Boy

Containing samples from three separate sources, Kanye‘s ‘Mercy’ has hardly left our home page ‘hot samples’ list since its release. Most popular was its use of Super Beagle‘s ‘Dust a Sound Boy’ flipping the intro from the 80s Stalag Riddim dancehall classic into an infectious chant. Following close behind in popularity was the track’s sample of YB’s ‘Lambo’ from which the song takes its chorus ‘Lamborghini mercy, your chick she so thirsty’. Perhaps not the year’s most thought provoking lyric but one that club goers will have ingrained in their consciousness for some time to come.

Stay tuned to the blog for the WhoSampled New Year round up in which we will give you our Top 10 ‘Staff Picks’ – our favourite sample-based releases from 2012. In the meantime, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at WhoSampled HQ!

4 Comments on “The Top 10 Most Popular Samples of 2012”

  1. Jay Gumbs (@kpfingaz)
    December 23, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    I submitted 3 of these.

  2. drpepperfan
    December 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    I submitted one of these :3

  3. CrashMC
    January 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Submitted just one of these :)


  1. Top 10 Samples of 2012: Staff Picks | Blog - January 10, 2013

    [...] on from our recent rundown of WhoSampled’s most popular samples of 2012, we kick off the new year by highlighting some of our personal favorite tracks of 2012 containing [...]

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