5 Awesome Times Artists Sampled Other Artists' Lyrics

Inspired by alt-J repurposing a Miley Cyrus lyric for their new song.



Ah, the art of the sample — taking one thing, putting a fresh spin on it, and making it into something entirely new altogether. Sure, sometimes the result can be totally awful ("Cupid's Chokehold", much?), but it can also make an entire career (like when Vanilla Ice borrowed Queen's "Under Pressure," for instance). It's less common to hear lyrics sampled than instrumentals, but we've compiled a list of 5 great lyrical samples that helped create excellent new songs, starting with the new alt-J song that inspired the list.
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5. alt-J — Hunger Of The Pine

Lyrics sampled: 'I'm a female rebel' from Miley Cyrus' "4x4"

This one's fresh! British alternative rockers alt-J just dropped their new single from their upcoming sophomore LP, and it features a very unlikely lyric sample from none other than Miley Cyrus. Surprisingly, it fits quite nicely into the demure, dark sound that alt-J is famous for making: have a listen!

4. Rihanna — Cheers (Drink To That)

Lyrics sampled: Avril Lavigne's 'Yeah, yeah / Yeah, yeah' breakdown from her song "I'm With You"

Another completely random lyric sample to go down was when Rihanna took Avril Lavigne's angsty yeah-filled breakdown on her early 2000s hit "I'm With You" on her party track "Cheers". But, even more randomly, the sample fits! Who knew a song about wanting to be with the one you love would mesh well with RiRi letting the Jameson sink in?

3. 2Pac — Changes

Lyrics sampled: 'That's just the way it is / Some things will never change' from Bruce Hornby's "The Way It Is"

We're takin' it back to the nineties with this classic! 2Pac's reworking of the soft-rock 80's hit will probably go down as the rapper's most iconic hit, and rightfully so: not only did he take the memorable hook from Hornsby's 1986 chart-topper and put it into his "Changes" chorus, he even continued on with the social jusitice theme from the original to work into his signature song.

2. Beyonce — ***Flawless

Lyrics sampled: Part of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's speech "We Should All Be Feminists"

Ok, ok, we know that Beyonce didn't necessarily sample a lyric. However, we like her statement by using the first half of public speaker Adichie's extremely important (and relevant) points about the equalization of the sexes. After repeated listens, maybe society will listen to the message that we should be treating both genders similarly.

1. Kanye West — Bound 2

Lyrics sampled: 'Uh huh, honey' from Brenda Lee's "Sweet Nothin's"

We hate to interrupt the rest of the songs on the list, but Kanye's borrowing of Brenda Lee's iconic opening banter on her ol-skool hit "Sweet Nothin's" could be the best lyric sample of all time! Not only is it highly quoted, the ridiculous-yet-kind-of-amazing video for "Bound 2", the closer off his last LP Yeezus, helped make this track even MORE popular. Uh huh, honey!

What lyric sample is YOUR favorite of all time? Share it with us in the comments!