Happy Birthday Beyonce! 4 Iconic Songs Beyonce Has Sampled Explained

The producers that crafted some of Beyonce’s dopest songs speak on the creative process.

By Kobie Brown

(AllHipHop Features) A sample is the reuse of a portion of a sound recording (the actual record, CD, wav file or link) or a composition (replaying or re-singing) of a pre-existing record or song. The right sample and lyrics can launch a career. Sometimes, the same sample can launch, revitalize or further advance several artists or producers’ careers over any number of years. Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit” is my favorite example of that. The 1983 release helped introduce Notorious B.I.G. to the masses in 1994 and created hits for Keyshia Cole “Let It Go feat. Missy Elliot and Lil’ Kim” and Tamar Braxton among others in the 35 years that have passed. Not bad.

Here’s a look at a few of the samples that have provided part of the musical foundation for superstar Beyonce over the past two decades.


“As a producer my favorite thing was to study those who came before me and when it comes to the sexy grooves, Barry White had everybody beat. Then, my background, with not only the church choir, but as a music director at a young age, and someone who just loves music; Destiny’s Child just reminded me of the young Supremes at the time. That’s sexy like Barry, so I knew they could go from a dream to becoming the young Supremes “

– Wyclef Jean Producer and featured artist on “No, No, No (Part 2)”

Barry White was a man of many developments and inventions. Among those were his own career as a solo artist; the discovery of Tom Brock, whose only album yielded, “There’s Nothing In This World That Can Stop Me From Loving You”, which later provided the foundation for Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” ; and Love Unlimited, a female trio whose song “He’s All I Got” later became the bed of “My Boo” by Usher feat. Alicia Keys (originally Nelly).

When tasked with creating a remix for “No, No, No”, Destiny’s Child debut single, artist and producer Wyclef Jean and his production crew, which included Che Pope, called upon a sample of the Love Unlimited Orchestra, a 40-piece orchestra created by Barry White in the 70s, to provide the foundation of a track that helped further cement Destiny’s Child as a household name.


“I randomly came across the Chi-Lites song in a crate of records I borrowed from a friend who deejays. I’d been thru the album playlist once or twice in the months before creating the track for “Crazy in Love”, and it didn’t stand out to me at first. You can go thru that crate or thru that playlist multiple times, and you may not hear anything helpful or that resonates until a moment that shifts your emotions. The songs don’t change, you do.”

– Rich Harrison / Producer and co-writer of “Crazy in Love feat Jay Z”

People often forget about the rich musical legacy that comes from the city of Chicago. The place is literally the home of Curtis Mayfield whose countless hits have graced and shaped R&B and Popular music for generations. No Mayfield, no falsettos by Pharrell. Mayfield grew up in Chicago’s notorious Cabrini-Green projects (location of the tv series Good Times) with a friend and high school classmate named Major Lance. He eventually helped craft the hits “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” for Lance, the late father of Atlanta’s current mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Another important group out of Chicago was the Chi-Lites, who wanted to name themselves the Hi-Lites, but opted on an homage to their hometown, Chicago or the Chi, once they discovered that name was taken. Their more popular songs , “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh Girl” are played continuously on the radio and “Oh Girl” provides the perfect background in season 4 of The Sopranos when Tony goes emo-thug. When Rich Harrison found a not so popular song by the group with a conga rhythm and a cascading horn arrangement they reminded him of the sounds of Go Go from his native Washington, D.C.. Those sounds also became the sonic bed for the introduction to Beyoncé as a solo artist. The rest is history.


“This sample convicted me to write something militant. A soundtrack for a revolution that was focused more on truth than mere entertainment.”

– Arrow Benjamin – co-writer/backing Vocals on Freedom by Beyonce.

This one was produced by Just Blaze, who really doesn’t get enough credit for introducing prog and psychedelic rock to hip hop and popular music. Both are sub-genres that celebrated abandoning popular and poppy music in exchange for a more rugged sound. On that level, it’s similar to Hip Hop. After doing the same with The Doors for Jay-Z’s “Take Over”, it’s no surprise he’d tap into a similar emotion that became a soundscape for an anthem about continued perseverance in the face of oppression. 


This one provides somewhat of a 360 moment when you consider how Destiny’s Child made their debut in 1998. 1998 was the same year the group Outkast released their third studio album, Aquemini. An album that featured the song “SpottieOttieDoaliscious”, which was masterfully produced. It contained live instruments during a time where sampling large sections of older records and crafting catchy choruses had become the norm. To the contrary, Big Boi and 3000 ditched the rhymes, and opt to provide a testimony of sorts about the trials and triumphs of coming of age, while Sleepy Brown provides a Curtis Mayfield -like falsetto ; 3000 pays homage to a popular refrain from a fictional Cabrini-Green’s Florida Evans, and all three are accompanied by one of the illest horn lines of our time. That’s where we found ourselves in 2014-15 when Beyonce and Nicki Minaj introduced a new generation to one of the illest horn lines of its time.

 AskKobie ™ – Kobie Brown is Senior Director, BA / Music Licensing at Sony Music and has extensive knowledge about the history of your favorite songwriters, samples, and songs.