Kanye West's Mastery: Crafting Hit Songs for Other Artists through Sampling

Kenzo : Front Row - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2022-2023
Kenzo : Front Row - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2022-2023 / Victor Boyko/GettyImages

Kanye West is not only a successful rapper and producer for himself but also for other artists. He has a knack for finding and flipping samples from various sources, ranging from soul and rock to electronic and gospel. In this article, we will highlight five of the best songs that Kanye West sampled and produced for other artists, and how he added his own touch to them.

“Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” by Jay-Z (2001)

This song is the first single from Jay-Z’s sixth album, The Blueprint, and it marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between him and Kanye West. The song samples “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5, a pop classic from 1969. Kanye chopped up the sample and added drums, bass, and horns, creating a catchy and upbeat backdrop for Jay-Z’s confident and charismatic rhymes. 

“You Don’t Know My Name” by Alicia Keys (2003)

The song highlights Alicia's soulful and smooth vocals and is known for its romantic and mellow vibe. The track samples from The Main Ingredient's 1974 hit, "Let Me Prove My Love to You," which was slowed down by Kanye West, who also added piano, strings, and drums to create a more contemporary sound. Additionally, the song features a phone call skit where Alicia expresses her feelings to her crush, played by Mos Def, which adds to the song's charm. 

“Overnight Celebrity” by Twista (2004)

The sample was sped up by Kanye and combined with drums, synths, and strings to create a dynamic and lively beat for Twista's fast-paced flow. Additionally, the song includes a violin solo played by Miri Ben-Ari, a classically trained musician who has collaborated with Kanye on multiple tracks.

“Dreams” by The Game (2005)

This song is the third single from The Game’s debut album, The Documentary, and it features Kanye West on the outro. The song samples “No Money Down” by Jerry Butler, a soul legend from 1975. Kanye looped the sample and added drums, guitar, and piano, creating a soulful and nostalgic beat for The Game’s autobiographical lyrics. The song also features a spoken word intro by The Game’s mentor, Dr. Dre, who co-executive produced the album with Kanye. 

“Find Your Love” by Drake (2010)

This is from Drake’s debut album, Thank Me Later, and it features Kanye West as a co-writer and co-producer. The song samples “I’m His Girl” by Friends, an indie pop band from 2011. Kanye pitched the sample and added drums, bass, and synths, creating a pop and R&B hybrid for Drake’s catchy and melodic vocals. The song also features a dancehall-inspired bridge where Drake switches to a Jamaican accent.