Kanye West's Transformation of Samples into Musical Masterpieces

Kanye West is widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovative producers in hip-hop history. His ability to transform samples from various genres and eras into fresh and original beats has been a hallmark of his musical style since his debut album, The College Dropout, in 2004. 

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But what songs are produced by Kanye West? Most importantly, what are the best songs sampled and produced by Ye? Continue reading to explore five of the best songs sampled and produced by Kanye West and how he used them to create his own masterpieces.

“Through the Wire” (2003)

This song is the first single from Kanye’s debut album, and it showcases his resilience and determination after surviving a near-fatal car accident that left his jaw wired shut. The song samples “Through the Fire” by Chaka Khan, a soulful ballad from 1984.

Kanye sped up the sample and pitched it higher, contrasting the smooth vocals with his own gritty rapping. He also added drums, bass, and piano to give the song a more upbeat and triumphant The song was a critical and commercial success, earning Kanye a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance1.

“Gold Digger” (2005)

Kanye's second album, Late Registration, spawned the hit single "Gold Digger," which features Jamie Foxx's sampled vocals from Ray Charles's "I Got a Woman" (1954). The song is a sharp and infectious critique of gold-digging women who exploit wealthy men for their financial gain.

Kanye used a sample of “I Got a Woman” by Richard Pryor, a comedy skit from 1974, where Pryor imitates Charles’s singing style and lyrics. Kanye chopped up the sample and looped it over a funky drum beat, creating a catchy and infectious groove.

“Stronger” (2007)

The track in question is the second single from Kanye's third album, Graduation, and it features a sample of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by the French electronic duo Daft Punk, released in 2001. The song serves as a self-improvement and empowerment anthem, inspired by Kanye's rivalry with 50 Cent and his desire to transcend the boundaries of hip-hop.

Kanye West confidently incorporated Daft Punk's vocals, which had themselves been sampled from Edwin Birdsong's "Cola Bottle Baby" back in 1979. Kanye skillfully distorted and chopped up the sample and added synths, drums, and guitars to create a powerful, futuristic, and highly energetic sound.

“Power” (2010)

The first single from Kanye’s fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and it features a sample of “21st Century Schizoid Man” by King Crimson, a British progressive rock band from 1969. The song is a defiant and explosive statement of Kanye’s ego and ambition, as he addresses his critics, enemies, and fans.

Kanye sampled King Crimson’s vocals, which were distorted and layered over a heavy drum beat. He also sampled “Afromerica” by Continent Number 6, a French disco song from 1978, and “It’s Your Thing” by Cold Grits, a soul song from 1969, to add more depth and texture to the song.

“Bound 2” (2013)

The song features a sample of “Bound” by Ponderosa Twins Plus One, a soul group from 1971. The song is a romantic and nostalgic ode to Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian, and it contrasts with the rest of the album, which is dark and abrasive. Kanye used a sample of Ponderosa Twins Plus One’s vocals, which he looped and pitched up, creating a sweet and catchy melody. He also sampled “Aeroplane (Reprise)” by Wee, a soul song from 1977, and “Sweet Nothin’s” by Brenda Lee, a pop song from 1959, to add more layers and complexity to the song.