Franklin’s spellbinding classics like “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” proved to be inescapable hits that kept listeners entranced. Her soaring vocals weren’t only appreciated by R&B aficionados, but by the rap world, as well. Tracks like Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty” and Slum Village’s “Selfish” are examples of pristine soundscapes that pay homage to the venerated singer.
With a catalog that spans over 50 years, Franklin’s catalog is a treasure trove for music enthusiasts in dire search of soul food. Take a look below at a list of some of the best Aretha Franklin samples used below.
Original Record: “Rock Steady” (1971)
Outkast, “Jazzy Belle” (1996)
In 1996, Outkast released their 1996 opus Atliens, which included their soul-tinged banger “Jazzy Belle.” Andre 3000 and Big Boi nimbly skate over the Organized Noize-produced beat, which contains a post-chorus scratch of the “Rock!” callout from Aretha’s early-’70s funk staple “Rock Steady.” The Atlanta tandem prove to be adept at turning down scandalous ladies and their sexual advances on the track, with a simple finger-wag and resounding no.
Dr. Dre, “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” (1992)
Dr. Dre used a similar “Rock Steady” sample to OutKast’s for his ominous heater titled “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat,” featuring Snoop Dogg. The Chronic standout finds Snoop and Dre clobber their meager opposition with sheer grit and of course, menacing verses.
Original Record: “Call Me” (1970)
Slum Village Featuring Kanye West & John Legend, “Selfish” (2004)
Dripping in soul, “Selfish” finds a young Kanye West displaying his precocious production skills on the board. Not only does West brilliantly set table with the beat — which swipes the piano-and-strings sway of Aretha’s 1970 classic — but he also pieces together an indelible verse: “Can I please, say my peace/ If y’all fresh to death, then I’m deceased,” he buoyantly raps.
Big Sean, “Call Me” (2007)
In the early stages of his career, Sean released his Finally Famous mixtape and tantalized fans with his short verse on “Call Me.” Drenched in metaphors, his “Call Me” — which rides a chipmunk-pitched version of the Aretha lift — is a safe haven for punchline junkies. “Cause they didn’t think I’d be good, now I be G.O.O.D/ So they wanna call me like Tweet would/ Saying “Get this money like we should!”/Like we should, n—a?”
Original Record: “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (1967)
Alicia Keys, “Lovin’ U” (2001)
Keys had the industry mesmerized with her breakout single “Fallin'” in 2001. Though her single soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, it was Keys’ electric performance on her debut album Songs in a Minor that morphed her into a major player in the music industry. A highlight came courtesy of her calming effort on “Lovin’ U” which expertly mirrors the groove of Franklin’s immortal rendition of Carole King’s “Natural Woman.” Keys’ slivery rendition is admirable homage paid to the Queen of Soul.
Original Song: “You Are My Sunshine” (1967)
Mobb Deep, “Drop a Gem on ‘Em” (1996)
In response to Tupac’s scathing diss record “Hit ‘Em Up,” Mobb Deep clapped back with their volcanic track “Drop a Gem on ‘Em.” Both Havoc and Prodigy puncture the sample (of Franklin wailing “some rain has got to fall” from her version of pop standard “You Are My Sunshine”) with callous disregard while gunning after the Death Row MC. “I got a hundred strong-arm n—as ready to rock your shit/Clocks tick, your days are numbered in low digits/You look suspicious, suspect n—-s is bitches/ Get chopped up, Grade A meat, somethin’ delicious,” spews Prodigy.
Original Record: “One Step Ahead” (1965)
Mos Def, “Ms. Fat Booty” (1999)
Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, earned massive acclaim when he released his 1999 album Black on Both Sides. Not only did Bey capture the attention of listeners with his visceral takes on “Hip-Hop” and “Mathematics,” but his approach on his first single “Ms. Fat Booty,” proved to be an instant earworm. With Franklin’s “One Step Ahead” vocal chopped up through the magnetic record, Bey gives us a crash course in the art of storytelling, as he attempts to secure the title woman’s attention.
Original Song: “Day Dreaming” (1972)
T.I., “Let’s Get Away” (2003)
In early 2000s, T.I. zoomed his way to stardom with his southern charm and trap-laden anthems. On his 2003 record “Let’s Get Away” — which interpolates wistful lyrical phrases from Aretha’s Young, Gifted and Black smash “Day Dreaming” –T.I. enlisted Jazze Pha to help him recruit hapless romantics seeking a thrilling adventure with the self-proclaimed King of the South. With a buttery delivery at his disposal, T.I. has more than enough ammo to cajole any woman to take a trip with him at any given time.
Cam’ron, “Daydreaming” (2002)
Though Cam’ron’s 2002 album Come Home With Me was loaded with street bangers like “Welcome to New York” and “Oh Boy,” Killa also showed he had a soft spot for the women on “Daydreaming.” With Franklin’s sample serving as the key ingredient, Cam takes accountability for his faults and vows to be a better man to his lady. “You paid attention when no one acknowledge me/ This is my public apology, holla B,” says Killa.
Original Song: “Young, Gifted and Black” (1972)
Rapsody, “Laila’s Wisdom” (2017)
An inspired lift of the intro of Aretha’s Young, Gifted and Black title track eventually turns into a triumphant groove for Rapsody’s own title track, to her Grammy-nominated Laila’s Wisdom LP. Producer Nottz chops up the gospel piano into a feel-good, BBQ-ready head-nodder, while the MC spits “Growing up I shopped at KMart and Ross’/ Celebrated every win, and learned to learn from all my loses.”