4 Songs You Didn’t Know Sampled David Bowie

David Bowie is an artist who has been sampled more than most. His infectious bass riffs and anthemic vocals are fodder for interpolating. The Thin White Duke’s music has bolstered many a hip-hop act over the past few decades, proving his work has the ability to be hit-worthy in any era.

Videos by American Songwriter

Songs like “Fame” and “Let’s Dance” have been used to create indispensable rap records from the likes of Jay-Z, J Dilla and Puff Daddy (now known as Diddy). Below, we’ve compiled four songs that have borrowed from Bowie and are a testament to the power of a well-placed sample. Let’s dive in.

1. “Takeover” by Jay-Z (“Fame”)

Jay-Z often samples classic rock artists in his work. Notably, he made The Grey Album which saw the rapper mix his own LP with the Beatles’ The White Album. But going beyond the Fab Four, Jay-Z has brought David Bowie into the mix with his 2001 release “Takeover.” On top of making use of Bowie’s “Fame” for some of the lyrics, the rapper also interpolates “Five to One” by the Doors and “Sound of Da Police” by KRS-One.

2. “Been Around the World” by Puff Daddy featuring The Notorious B.I.G. & Mase (“Let’s Dance”)

Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” has one of the most recognizable openings ever. The same funky trill can be heard on Puff Daddy’s “Been Around the World,” released in 1997. The Bowie song acts as the backing track for the sprawling rap effort which also features the Notorious B.I.G. and Mase. The chorus also features a sample of Lisa Stansfield’s “All Around the World.”

3. “Alive on Arrival” by Ice Cube (“Fame”)

Circling back to “Fame,” Ice Cube also used the Bowie staple in his 1991 track “Alive on Arrival.” The groovy bass riff Bowie makes use of in his 1975 hit is tucked underneath a booming drum line as Ice Cube rattles off Down at the best spot / It’s me and JD and they sellin more birds than a pet shop / The spot’s hot and everybody nervous / That’s when the blue car served us.

4. “Take Notice” by J Dilla (“Soul Love”)

J Dilla expertly interpolated Bowie’s “Soul Love” into his “Take Notice.” The Ziggy Stardust track is almost unrecognizable here as Dilla molds it into something new – a testament to his unmatched skill set. Though some samples can be heavy-handed and still manage to work (Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” – for better or for worse), it’s the delicately placed ones that really entice.

(Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

The Meaning Behind Megan Thee Stallion’s “Plan B”