Who Sampled It Best ?
Sampling 101: The Isley Brothers – Between The Sheets
I do not know of a more iconic song than 1983’s “Between the Sheets.” No matter what genre of music you are into, somewhere in your life you have heard this. Whether it’s an elevator, grocery story, Macy’s, or your black friend’s mother’s car, you’ve heard this. “Between the Sheets” was the lead single off the Isley Brothers 15th, yea 15th album of the same name. These living legends have a career spanning half a century and are no doubt one of the most popular groups in music history. Hip-Hop would soon take notice of Ron Isley’s distinctive voice and these smooth gooves; eventually an onslaught of rappers would start to sample this song. Let’s check a couple of them out.
Isley Brothers – Between The Sheets
Who Sampled It Best ?
1. Roxanne Shante – Feelin Kinda Horny
14 year Roxanne Shante stormed on the scene in 1984. She quickly became involved in one of hip hop’s first beefs, while a member of the legendary Juice Crew. Shante released a slew of singles that led up her debut album; Bad Sister. This 1989 album highlighted sharp rhymes accentuated by vintage Marley Marl production. The album was solid and came out at the time where The Juice Crew was at the pinnacle of their success. One of the standout joints on the album was “Feelin Kinda Horny.” But fellas, if you think Shante is talking about her sexual prowess, think again. She perfectly describes what she’s talking about with rhymes like:
When I say horny, I mean that horns that r playing
Goes real well with the words that im sayin
Produced by J Jove and the neighbor Chilly Q
I hope they find the sounds that they gave to me to bring to you.
And she ends each verse with :
Fellas blow the trumpets cause im feelin horny.
This was the first time I ever heard that smooth sound of “Between The Sheets” on a rap song. I made sure to include this song on every mixtape I made myself in ‘89.
Roxanne Shante – Feelin’ Kinda Horny
2. Common Sense – Breaker 1/9
Young bucks, before Common was an accomplished actor and film producer, he was the Chicago MC, Common Sense. His first album featured some soulful production and stellar lyricism. 1992’s Can I Borrow a Dollar had a song that sampled “Between The Sheets”. Frequent collaborator, No I.D. hooked this backdrop up on “Breaker 1/9” for Common to discuss what happens to all men at times…the inability to get an erection.
I’m sorry Monica. There aren’t too many hip hop songs on this topic, so enjoy.
Common Sense – Breaker 1,9
3. UGK – Crampin My Style
One of the greatest groups of all time, Underground Kingz came to national prominence from their classic “Pocket Full of Stones” off one of the best soundtracks in history, 1992’ s Menace II Society. Later on that year, they released their debut, Too Hard To Swallow. For a majority of the album Bun-B and Pimp C, gave us an early tour through their life in Port Arthur, Texas. “Crampin My Style” also highlighted this familiar sample as Bun B and Infinity discussed their relationship. See, Bun just wants a one night stand, while Infinity wants something more.
UGK – Crampin My Style
4. Da Brat– Funkdafied
Jermaine Dupri was blazing hot in 1994 from his Kris Kross success. He did it again when he signed the feisty Da Brat and produced her debut album Funkdafied. The summer of ’94 was ruled by the lead single of the same name which also sampled “Between the Sheets.” The song was such a success that it won 1994’s Billboard’s Top Rap Single. “Funkdafied” also anchored Brat’s debut album to platinum status… the first female solo rapper to achieve this.
Da Brat – Funkdafied
5. Notorious B.I.G. – Big Poppa
I love it when you call me Big Poppa.
Throw your hands in the air…if you’s a true player
You know the song. My 13 year old who only listens to Migos, Uzi Vert, Future and Lil Yachty and the rest of that stuff knows the song. “Big Poppa” is probably one hip hop’s most iconic singles from one of the most iconic rappers, Notorious B.I.G. Puff utilized the classic slow jam as a backdrop for B.I.G. to spit his game. This is 90’s nostalgia at its best!
The Notorious B.I.G. – Big Poppa
6. Keith Murray – The Most Beautifullest Thing in the World
Keith Murray… One of my favorite MC’s ever. He first introduced himself and his vocabulary on “Hostile,” a cut on Erick Sermon’s solo debut, 1993’s No Pressure. His impeccable lyricism was widely heralded which led to his debut, 1994’s The Most Beautifullest Thing in the World. Murray’s lead single of the same name was his most popular and the best in his catalog. Erick Sermon handled the production as he created a masterpiece sneakily based on the reliable sample. I googled the word classic and this song popped up.
Keith Murray – The Most Beautifullest Thing In The World
7. Big L – Fed Up Wit the Bullshit
Big L got his start with the legendary Diggin In The Crates crew in the early 90’s. After a plethora of mixtape appearances, he released his debut Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous. The album showcased his razor sharp rhymes over production by his brethern, Showbiz, Buckwild and Lord Finesse. “Put It On” and “MVP” were both among the standouts on the album. One track, “Fed Up Wit The Bullshit” couldn’t be more relevant today with the police shootings of unarmed black men. L expresses his frustrations with the way police handle themselves in certain situations. He explains:
One murdered my man like it was okay
For the life he ended he got suspended with no pay
But if a man woulda took the cop life, he woulda got life
And never again see the street lights, and that’s trife
Lord Finesse created a backdrop for L to express his frustration based on timeless sample.
Big L – Fed up Wit the Bullshit
8. Whitney Houston – One of Those Days
Even the greatest singer in human history can take advantage of the art of sampling. Whitney Houston released her 5th album, Just Whitney in 2002. Album had mixed reviews, but I am in love with one of the singles released, “One of those Days.” Whitney is effortlessly singing about her need for relaxation over a nice groove inspired by the timeless Isley Brothers tune. What make this song even special is because she mentions the Isley’s in the song, sings a piece of “Between the Sheets” and even invited Mr. Biggs to jump in the video. I love this song.
Whitney Houston – One Of Those Days
Who Sampled It Best?
* Keith Murray “The Most Beautifullest Thing In The World”
Keith Murray’s debut just edges out “Feelin Kind of Horny” and “Funkdafied.” I loved the horns in Shante’s version and Brat’s version was just so damn funky. But the way Erick Sermon utilized the classic sample in such a subtle way was ridiculous. For a while, I didn’t even realize Erick Sermon had even sampled the Isleys. This is sampling in its greatest form.
Now there are literally hundreds of artists who sampled this timeless track. Silkk the Shocker used this sample during the height of the No Limit take over. No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani used it on 2004’s “Luxurious.” Jim Jones drafted Trey Songz for “Summer in Miami.” Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel used a portion of the ballad on 2007’s “Ignorant Shit.” Then Drake and Lil Wayne absolutely murdered their version of “Ignorant Shit” a few years later.
But answer me this, whether your choice is above or not…Who Sampled It Best?
Who Sampled It Best? is a weekly column that delves into the background of sampling and Hip-Hop culture by taking a deeper look at it’s roots.
Have a suggestion? Hit us up with your favorite tracks that used the same sample and we’ll break it down.
Sampling 101: The Isley Brothers – Between The Sheets