Classic Rock’s Influence on Hip-Hop: 5 Popular Sampled Tracks

One thing is constant in the world of music: evolution. It’s a constantly evolving landscape where genres intersect, blend, and inspire one another. The influence of classic rock songs on hip-hop is a blend that can’t be denied. While rap and hip-hop can be identified by their stylized rhythmic music and rhythmic lyrics that are usually chanted, rock focuses more on the heavy use of electric guitar and keyboard instrumentations accompanied by a fusion of voices by bands.

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The cross-pollination of genres has given rise to iconic tracks that bridge generational gaps. Here, we explore five popular sampled tracks where classic rock meets hip-hop and rap, creating an electrifying musical synergy.

1. “American Bad Ass” – Kid Rock (2000)

Sampled song: “Sad but True” by Metallica

Kid Rock‘s “American Bad Ass,” featured on History of Rock, is a rap metal song that fuses hip-hop with heavy metal. The song samples “Sad but True” by Metallica. From 0:03, you can hear the distinct instrumentals of “Sad but True” in “American Bad Ass” and it’s consistent throughout the song. The song made it to No. 20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks charts. 

Upon its release, the music video for the single made its debut on MTV2 and subsequently claimed the top spot on Canada’s MuchMusic Countdown. Additionally, the song made a memorable appearance on Saturday Night Live, featuring a cameo appearance by Ron Jeremy, and became the last music video that would feature rapper Joe C. before his death.

2. “Ace Is in the House” – Tone Loc (1994)

Sampled song: “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by Beastie Boys

Tone Loc’s “Ace Is in the House” was written and produced for, and featured in the two movies of the Ace Ventura franchise. The song begins with a Jim Carrey intro before the sample of Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” comes in at 0:14. The guitar riff was continuous through “Ace Is in the House” at a faster pace, compared to the original played by Beastie Boys. 

“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” is a mix of hard rock and heavy metal, while Tone Loc used their riff as a blend of his rap. Other songs that sampled Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” include “Fat Girl” by Eazy E, “The Rappers” by Jovanotti, and “Stutter Rap (No Sleep Till Bedtime)” by Morris Minor and The Majors.

The music video for “Ace Is in the House” features Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura, a comical but brilliant pet detective, along with scenes from the first movie.

3. “99 Problems” – Jay-Z (2004)

Sampled Song: “Long Red” by Mountain

Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” draws from the rock anthem “Long Red” by Mountain. “99 Problems” is a rap rock track featured on Jay-Z’s The Black Album, and samples the 24-second drum intro from “Long Red,” which is one of the most sampled songs in the history of hip-hop. Ironically, “99 Problems” itself has become a staple for sampling, having been used over 80 times in different hip-hop and pop songs, including Ariana Grande’s “Problem.”

4. “Same Song” – Digital Underground ft. Tupac Shakur (1991)

Sampled Song: “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith

“Same Song,” by rap group Digital Underground, features Tupac Shakur in his recording debut. It is part of the soundtrack for the 1991 comedy horror movie “Nothing But Trouble.” The song sampled the hard rock song “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith, using the upbeat guitar and drums instrumentation as the base of the song. 

“Same Song” climbed up to No. 61 on the US Radio Songs (Billboard) chart and No. 15 on the US Dance Club Songs (Billboard). “Walk This Way” has been sampled in 29 songs and covered in 25 songs, including a collaborative cover by Aerosmith and Run-DMC, which is the most popular version of the song.

5. “Sing For The Moment” – Eminem (2003)

Sampled Song: “Dream On” by Aerosmith

For his fourth album, The Eminem Show, rapper and hip-hop star Eminem released “Sing for the Moment” as the fourth single from the album. The song features a sample of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” beginning with the instrumental intro and continuing again at the 1:11 mark, till the end of the song.

Aerosmith’s “Dream On” was sampled in three other tracks—“Angels & Demons” by Immortal Technique, “Never Be Friends” by The Game, and “Nobody Believes in You, You Lost Again and Again and Again” by Tirakiss. Some music critics regard Eminem’s sampling of “Dream On” as a “smart move” as the song peaked in the Top 10 in 20 countries while reaching No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Sing For The Moment” itself has been sampled in 7 songs so far.

Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images

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