Hip-Hop

Kanye West's 'Ye': A Closer Look Into The Samples Of The Album

Kanye West
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for LACMA

 Kayne West attends LACMA Director's Conversation With Steve McQueen, Kanye West, And Michael Govan About "All Day/I Feel Like That"  presented by NeueHouse in association with UTA Fine Arts at LACMA on July 24, 2015 in Los Angeles.

You can’t bring up hip-hop and sampling without mentioning Kanye West.

Since even before his College Dropout debut back in 2004, Mr. West has effortlessly flipped some of music’s most worldly songs and turned them into hip-hop anthems -- not only himself, but for others as well. From reworking Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” into his passionately personal “Through the Wire” to recently turning “I Want to Make Up” by The 24-Carat Black into Pusha T’s lyrical war zone “Infrared,” West has always been a true student of music with a propensity for molding old cuts into modern day classics.  

Luckily for fans of West’s wizardly sonics, the sample master himself just dropped his eighth studio album, Ye, and in classic form, there are plenty of new spins on old sounds.

He and his dream-team of producers -- including Mike Dean, Benny Blanco, Che Pope, Apex Martin and others -- shacked up in Jackson, Wyo. and pulled samples out of everything from old funk records to new ambient soundscapes. 

“I Thought About Killing You”

Ye's opening track starts with an explicitly honest spoken word verse that has Mr. West shockingly contemplating killing himself and others. At the 2:20 mark he brings in some soft drums and starts to rap, but at 3:10 the beat switches and kicks up a notch thanks to a song called “Fr3sh” by Kareem Lotfy. The primary portion of the sample starts at 3:00.

“Yikes”

The album’s most high-octane song with quite clearly the best chance at making into regular nightclub rotation is “Yikes.” The admittedly bi-polar superhero theme song uses Kothbiro’s 1976 track “Black Savage” for its smooth baseline and sharp vocal interpolations. The specific vocal cut can be heard at 0:53.

“No Mistakes”

“No Mistakes” contains two seamlessly blended samples thanks to the production magic of Che Pope, Mike Dean and West himself. The main piano portion that plays throughout the song is from “Children Get Together” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

On top of that, the “believe it or not” vocal interjections that pop up periodically throughout the track are pulled from Slick Rick’s 1988 cut “Hey Yung World.” Said vocal sample can be heard at the 2:36 mark.

“Ghost Town”

The album’s most grandiose production is on the John Legend, Kid Cudi and 070 Shake-assisted “Ghost Town.” The track’s leading base, drum and keys combination is taken from “Take Me For A Little While” by Vanilla Fudge. Interestingly enough, Kid Cudi uses samples vocals from Dave Edmunds 1979 version of the same song.