Rapcaviar recently wrapped up their Sample of the Year contest, a bracket-style tournament where followers voted for the best-sampled hip-hop tracks of 2022. While we applaud the idea’s creativity, the results simply did not resound with us.
2022 has felt like the year of the sample, with many of our favorite artists taking old-school hip-hop riffs and flipping them into new-wave classics. Producers used some of the most recognized hip-hop loops to create beats that link the nostalgia of the early 2000s with the attitude of today’s hip-hop. And some went totally out of the box, taking tracks we might have never heard before and creating magic with them. So, without further ado, here are our top six sampled hip-hop joints of 2022. Special thanks to WhoSampled for providing a resource to research and fact-check this article.
Producer: Kal Banx
Sample: Keith Mansfield – The Loving Touch
British composer Keith Mansfield was well known for contributing to film scores, and The Loving Touch played in the opening scene of 1976 Stephen Gibson film Hard Candy.
It’s no surprise that one of our favorite producers in the game, North Texas native and Top Dawg-affiliated Kal Banx flipped the serene, yet haunting vocals into a beat tailor-made for Denzel’s unabashed delivery, and delectable wordplay. Combining elements of boom-bap and trap styles in one, cohesive track is a tough task to get right, but both Banx and Denzel pull it off with class. Don’t be surprised if the name Kal Banx resurfaces again at some point on this list.
Producers: Statik Selektah, Heavy Mellow
Sample: Men I Trust – Show Me How
A list of this type without Statik Selektah would feel barren and incomplete. In a project chock-full of beautiful samples, Show Me truly stands out.
With natural-sounding chops from the beautiful guitar/vocal segments from popular dreampop group Men I Trust, this joint was a contender before Joey even graced it with his eloquence. Show Me is intimate, heartfelt, and well executed, with Joey expressing sentiments on love and its hardships. “’Cause transparency my love language/Can’t see the bigger picture if your vision tangled/Love is like glass, either break it or you stain it.”
Producers: Groove, Daoud, Barry Hefner, Zeke Nicholson
Samples: Lil Wayne – 6 Foot 7 Foot, Fugees – Fu-Gee-La
Sometimes samples work best when they pay obvious homage to the original track. Others find their magic through disguise and recreation. Waterboyz, from EarthGang’s prodigious album Ghetto Gods, falls into that second silo.
Flipping snippets from classic tracks like Lil Wayne’s 6 Foot 7 Foot and Fugee’s Fu-Gee-La, and forcing a listener to say “It can’t be that, can it?”, at the same time is an incredible accomplishment.
On top of an insane beat, EarthGang, JID, and Cole all absolutely demolished their verses. Tied together by one of the best hooks on the album, Olu and Wowgr8 always seem to elevate themselves when the talent on the mic around them is amplified, and Johnny V especially shines on this joint. However, as they tend to do, JID and Cole steal the show. JID’s verse is earthy, encrusted in elements of R&B dubs, and Cole quite simply spits hot fire. “No more Off-Season, it’s capital B on my car season/If I happen to be in the mall and you catch yourself lookin’ at me then you’re stargazin’.”
Producers: Sounwave, Beach Noise, DJ Dahi, Duval Timothy, Bekon, Victor Ekpo
Sample: Hoskins ‘Ncrowd – You’re Not There
In a track that embodies nostalgia, hard emotions, and a bittersweet sentiment, the beat has to match. As always, Kendrick’s knack for matching powerful meaning, with purposeful arrangement was top-notch. Sampha’s delicate hook adds earned emotion, and a lot is owed to a majestic beat.
Sampling a little-known entity like Hoskins ‘Ncrowd is a testament to the crate digging and creative vision of all producers involved. And the end result is a track that will certainly withstand the test of time.
Producer: Kal Banx
Sample: Monica – Knock Knock
In years past, No L’s would have been an easy winner here. Flipping 2003 Monica hit Knock Knock, supplemented with thumping 808s and a seamless switch-up, Banx is at his very best. This track absolutely knocks and brings back memories of middle school/high school years for any 90s baby.
And of course, Smino graces this masterpiece of a beat with luscious vocals, hitting the highs and the lows appropriately with ease and style. To begin the track, Smi pays homage to Monica, singing, “Knock, Knock, Knock. Loud Knockin’. Good weed knockin’ at your door.” Of course, originally, Monica’s take samples It’s a Terrible Thing to Waste by The Masquerades.
Producers: Christo, Aviad
Sample: Zusha – Yoel’s Niggun
We dare you to listen to Dance Now and not get the vocal flip stuck in your head. This is one of the truly iconic tracks of 2022, a song that in the future will bring us back to the time and place we first heard it.
There are so many fascinating elements at play when it comes to this beat too. Who would have thought that a Jewish folk song could be flipped on its head to become a literal chart-topping hip-hop banger? Especially with 16-year-old producer Aviad Pznansky learning of the original track at summer camp, and having the vision to chop it into something truly special.
But equal credit belongs to JID’s longtime producer Christo, the orchestrator of so many hits over the years. And of course, to JID himself, and Kenny Mason who used the dopest of canvases to create a track for the ages.