Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players Reveal Their Favorite Rap Samples, First Concerts and Favorite Records

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Mase (left) and Puff Daddy. 

Billboard's annual list of R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players highlights the top 100 executives and creatives who have made R&B and hip-hop the hottest genres on earth. Below, members of the 2018 class share their favorite samples, memories from their first concerts and more reflections.


Jennifer Drake, Sony/ATV: When Ice Cube and DJ Pooh sampled The Isley Brothers’ "Footsteps in the Dark" in "It Was a Good Day." [Ice Cube] took the sound of my parents but told a story of his life and, subsequently, the evolution of the urban black family. It was also a crowning jewel in the West Coast movement.”

Ron “Mills” Triana, SiriusXM​​: When Notorious B.I.G.’s "Juicy" sampled Mtume’s "Juicy Fruit." That was fly because it took me to my childhood and the local roller skating rink in junior high. I could still see us all singing this tune as we skated, danced and hit the video games. Nostalgia is what keeps you young.

Erika Montes, SoundCloud: The "It’s the Hard-Knock Life" sample from [the 1977 musical] Annie in Jay-Z’s "Hard Knock Life." It’s such a clever sample, and opened up people’s eyes to the similarities between this cute redheaded girl and Jay-Z. We’re all just trying to do and be better. Also, try getting it out of your head when you listen to it.

Matt Zingler, Rolling Loud: Michael McDonald’s "I Keep Forgettin'," sampled in Warren G’s "Regulate." My parents were really big Michael McDonald fans. They were always playing his records while I was growing up. I must have been 10 years old the first time I heard "Regulate," and the second I heard the beat, I immediately started dancing all over the place.

Cara Lewis, Cara Lewis Group: "Paid in Full" by Eric B. & Rakim sampled "Don’t Look Any Further" by Dennis Edwards. I’m also shouted-out on the song.


Coach K, Quality Control: The Jackson 5 in 1976. I was 5. My parents and I all dressed up alike. We had on blue-jean outfits with cowboy boots. It was crazy and, yup, denim.

Jon Wexler, Adidas: Hurricane and Davy D., Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell Tour in July 1987 at Chicago’s Rosemont Horizon. Watching the Beasties run around onstage like it was a punk rock show, and then seeing D.M.C., Run and Jam Master Jay rock an entire stadium -- that blew my mind.”

Drew Findling, attorney: After everything that Migos went through [in 2015] -- particularly [Offset’s jail stint] in Georgia -- I told the defense team that as soon as the case was over, we should all attend their show together. It was the first hip-hop event I’ve ever been to, at [Atlanta’s] Center Stage Theater. It was remarkable.

Dion "No I.D." Wilson, Capitol: I remember [mine] because I performed at it. Myself, Common and a friend had a rap group [named C.D.R.], and we opened up for Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A and Too $hort in Chicago. We were just kids with dreams, up there with legends. If anybody has footage of that -- it would be hilarious.

Ian Holder, Sony/ATV: A Kiss FM summer show at Madison Square Garden, when all three members of H-Town dropped their pants and sang the rest of "Knockin’ Da Boots" in mismatched silk boxers. Epic.


Ryan Press, Warner/Chappell: "I Wish It Would Rain" by The Temptations. When I went to my father’s [Temptations tenor Ron Tyson] shows as a kid, that was the first time I remember feeling something in my soul from a song. That intro used to give me chills.

Pat Corcoran, Haight Brand: Puff Daddy and Mase’s "Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down" was that first "Let’s get this work" song for me. It was a grinder’s anthem, even for my 6-year-old self at the time.

Don Wynter, iHeartMedia: I remember hearing the first hip-hop record: Fatback Band’s "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" in 1979. I couldn't believe the art form that I grew up listening to had been memorialized on wax.

Dre London, London Entertainment: Biggie Smalls’ "Everyday Struggle." I got kicked out of school, and my family thought it was over for me, not knowing what was next. So I would hop on my bike and just listen, using it sort of as a soundtrack to my life.

Tariq Cherif, Rolling Loud: 2Pac’s "Dear Mama," because I was raised by a single mother, so I really just felt him.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 29 issue of Billboard.