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10 Hip-Hop Classics Inspired by Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson thrilled fans with his music videos, revolutionized pop music with his dance moves, and captivated everyone with his eccentricities. He had the unique ability to marry rock, pop, R & B, and hip-hop music, without losing his musical identity. Over the years, hip-hop has often paid tribute to the King of Pop through the art of sampling. Here are 10 hip-hop classics that sampled Michael Jackson.

10. 2Pac - "Letter 2 My Unborn"

© Interscope
Sample: Michael Jackson - "Liberian Girl"

"Letter to My Unborn," one of the 879 posthumous 2Pac singles, is taken from his 2001 album Until the End of Time. It sampled Michael Jackson's 1989 smash "Liberian Girl," off of Bad. Another 2Pac song, "The Thug in Me," and MC Lyte's "Keep on Keeping On" also sampled "Liberian Girl." At the beginning of the original version of "Thug in Me," Pac tells his producer: "I like that beat that MC Lyte got. Johnny J, flip that sh*t. Let's do that sh*t like over."

9. Trae - "Swang"

© Rap-A-Lot
Sample: Michael Jackson - "With A Child's Heart"

The original version of Trae's "Swang" sampled MJ's "Lady in My Life". However, Trae's label was unable to clear the rights for the sample. As a result, Trae was forced to re-record the song over a different beat. Still, the OG version remains one of the best hip-hop songs to ever sample MJ.

8. Puff Daddy - "It's All About the Benjamins"

© Bad Boy Records
Sample: Jackson 5 - "It's Great to Be Here"

"It's All About the Benjamins," which features Lil Kim, The LOX & Notorious B.I.G., is probably Puffy's biggest hit ever. It climbed all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and its won a "Viewer's Choice" award at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards for the music video. The song's DNA is comprised of Love Unlimited's "I Did It For Love" and Jackson 5's "It's Great to Be Here."

7. Q-Tip - "Move/Renaissance Rap"

© Universal Motown
Sample: Jackson 5 - "Dancing Machine"

Q-Tip sampled Jackson 5 on "Fight/Love" and "Move/Renaissance Rap," both taken from his critically acclaimed Renaissance LP. The latter, produced by J Dilla, borrows elements of J5's "Dancing Machine." The Rik Cordero-directed video also alludes to Jackson's "You Rock My World" video.

6. J Dilla - "Time (The Donut of the Heart)"

© Stones Throw
Sample: Jackson 5 - "All I Do Is Think of You"

"All I Do Is Think of You" is a favorite among Jackson 5 fans. The ballad, which appears on Jackson 5's Moving Violation, is also one of the group's most sampled tunes. A slightly faster, albeit equally melancholic, version of the song forms the backbone of Dilla's "Time - Donut of the Heart," off his critically-acclaimed 2006 album, Donuts. The Roots later used the same track as for the album closer, "Can't Stop This", on 2007's Game Theory.

5. Big Pun - "You Ain't A Killer"

© Relativity
Sample: Michael Jackson - "With a Child's Heart"

"You Ain't A Killer" is a standout cut from Pun's 1996 LP, Capital Punishment. The piano loops harvested from the first six seconds of "With a Child's Heart" ends up serving as the backdrop of Pun's 4-minute gem. The cinematic beat compliments Pun's gritty flow and the effect is as timeless as hip-hop itself. Khrysis also sampled "With a Child's Heart" for Little Brother's brilliant "Watch Me," from The Minstrel Show.

4. Naughty By Nature - "O.P.P."

© Tommy Boy
Sample: Jackson 5 - "ABC"

Naughty By Nature struck gold with their 1991 hit single "O.P.P.," which sampled the Jackson 5 hit. The irrepresibly catchy "O.P.P." helped propel Naughty By Nature's self-titled debut to platinum status. It remains one of the biggest crossover hits hip-hop has ever witnessed.

3. Ghostface Killah - "All That I Got Is You" (Ft. Mary J Blige)

© Epic
Sample: Michael Jackson - "Maybe Tomorrow"

This 1996 masterwork offered an early indication of Ghost's penchant for soulful samples. It samples Jackson 5's "Maybe Tomorrow," with young Michael on lead vocals. Ghost tapped songstress Mary J. Blige and an eloquent Popa Wu to add even more soul power to an already fierce RZA beat. Ghostface supposedly wrote the song as a tribute to his mother.

2. De La Soul - "Breakadawn"

Sample: Michael Jackson - "I Can't Help It"

When you hear "Breakadawn," the 1993 single from De La Soul's Buhloone Mindstate, the first thing that jumps out at you is the riveting sample. Prince Paul incorporates a mix of live instrumentation and elements from Jackson's "I Can't Help It," taken from Off the Wall.

1. Nas - "It Ain't Hard to Tell"

© Columbia
Sample: Michael Jackson - "Human Nature"

What do Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" and Nas' "It Ain't Hard to Tell" have in common? For starters, they're both cold classics. Illmatic is often heralded as one of the best hip-hop albums ever. This Large Professor-laced gem from Nas' opus owes its success to the late King of Pop.

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