Rock On: The 10 Best Hip Hop Billy Squier Samples

You may not know who Billy Squire is but your favorite rapper does.

While lots of 80s rock music can be summarized by long hair, bright lights, and an obligatory ballad, not all of it faded away when the final decade of the 20th century began.  Some artists have been given another life via Hip-Hop records which sample them.

One such case is Boston rocker Billy Squier.  Of course the name doesn’t ring a bell but pay closer attention to the credits on some of your favorite songs and be amazed.

In recognition of Squier’s 1981 hit “The Stroke” now being sampled on Eminem’s new single, “Berzerk,” AllHipHop came up with a list of the 10 Best songs to sample Billy Squier.

10). “Worker Ant Uprise” by Company Flow

“The Stroke” is a well-known song.  It broke into the Top 20 on the charts when it was released in 1981 and has more recently appeared in films starring Adam Sandler, Tom Hanks, and Will Ferrell.  Therefore, it’s a risk to sample because of its popularity.  But Company Flow took a chance for their ’99 instrumental album which resulted in one of the project’s best cuts.

Song Sampled: “The Stroke”

9). “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys

While Keys’ empowering chorus is the highlight of this song, “The Big Beat” drum track also helps provide the music to accentuate the commanding vocals.  It peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and went double platinum.  If only hit singles with substance weren’t so few and far between.

Song Sampled: “The Big Beat”

8). “Out of This World” by A$AP Rocky 

One of A$AP Rocky’s strengths is his knack for selecting beats.  The Olympicks-produced track closes out Live.Love. A$AP strong as he name drops his contemporaries at the time.  “They say Tyga and Diggy, but Rocky been Jiggy/Curren$y from the Wiz ain’t enough to get me home/Can’t really hate when they compare me to Drake/Could have been J. Cole if I met Jay Hov‘.”

Song Sampled: “The Big Beat”

7). “Real N****z Don’t Die” by N.W.A

N.W.A wasted no time proving that they had more attitude than ever on their sophomore LP.  In one of Dr. Dre’s most memorable productions pre-Death Row, he samples no less than ten records and fuses them all together really well.  The skills Dre displayed here showed the early roots of G-funk which he perfected a year and a half later on The Chronic.

Song Sampled: “The Big Beat”

6). “Looking for Trouble” by Kanye West feat. J.Cole, Big Sean, Cyhi Da Prynce, and Pusha T

It’s debatable who had the best verse here, but J. Cole definitely went in on it and so it was rightfully placed as a bonus cut on his Friday Night Lights mixtape.  Overall though, it was a great look for GOOD Friday music, and helped newcomers get exposure alongside a superstar producer like Kanye and a more seasoned rapper like Pusha T.

Song Sampled: “The Big Beat”

5). “Ain’t No Half-Steppin’” by Big Daddy Kane

Big Daddy Kane is an agile rapper and “Ain’t No Half-Steppin’” is one of the reasons why.  In four verses, he lives up to his claim that he is the Ginsu machete to all other emcees “butter knife” status.  A quarter of a century after its release, this Kane classic is still a piece of work that so-called great emcees are being measured against.

Song Sampled: “The Big Beat”

4). “Berzerk” by Eminem

Back around the time Marshall Mathers was being harassed daily by that fat kid named D’Angelo Bailey, a punk band transitioned to rap and blew up as the Beastie Boys.  In homage to to their contributions, Em  brought back their sound and producer extraordinaire, Rick Rubin, in order for a new generation of Hip-Hop fans to see how old-school never goes out of style.

Song Sampled: “The Stroke”

3). “Hip Hop is Dead” by Nas feat.

Nas daringly flipped Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” for the lead singles to two of his albums in a row.  However, one difference between the two records is that “Hip Hop is Dead” also samples Squier’s “The Big Beat.”  While Hip Hop is Dead’s title track suggests otherwise, him and prove that the Bronx-born culture is alive and well.

Song Sampled: “The Big Beat”

2). “Fix Up, Look Sharp” by Dizzee Rascal

Written when he was just in his teens, British rapper Dizzie Rascal’s “Fix Up, Look Sharp” would be a career highlight.  The emcee was far from a one trick pony though because the album on which the song appears won the highly coveted Mercury Prize in the UK and found acclaim in the States too.  Chris Rock even named it as one of his 25 favorite rap albums ever in 2005.

Song Sampled: “The Big Beat”

1). “99 Problems” by Jay Z

Not Unlike “Berzerk,” track 9 from Jay Z’s Black Album utilizes vintage sounds and Rick Rubin’s production wizardry.  The chorus and title borrow from a 1993 Ice-T record, but while the original focuses on sex, the 2003 version covers more ground.  From drug dogs to critics to a male aggressor, Jay overcomes it all in one of the most memorable songs from the 00’s.

Song Sampled: “The Big Beat”

What do you think?  Sound off in the comments section below!