Introduction: Rap and soulful samples have always gone together like two peas in a pod. Kanye West, Nas, Jay – Z, Tupac and many other rappers have shone well best qualities rapping over souful rap beats. Rick Ross seems to be at his absolute best when he raps over a soulful beat as showcased in Devil In a New Dress, Amsterdam and Oil Money Gang. This list compiles in our opinion on what we think are the top 10 hip hop soulful songs of all time. Their were alot of arguments and agreements but eventually we all agreed on these ten songs. Soulful production normally consists of a soulful voice in the background of the track in a continuous loop.
50 Cent – Hustler’s ambition
Artist: 50 Cent
Song: Hustler’s Ambition
Producer: B-Money B$
Sample: Maze fear Frankly Beverly – I Need You
what better way than to start of the list with one of 50 cent’s best songs. Hustler’s ambition contains a mesmeric sample where 50 lay’s down some of this best verses on the track. Produced by B-Money “B$ who takes a small part from the track ‘I need you’ and samples it excellently by adding hard hitting drums, background vocals that harmonize well with 50 Cent’s voice.
Lupe Fiasco – Hurt Me Soul
Artist: Lupe Fiasco
Song: Hurt Me Soul
Sample: The Cecil Holmes Soulful Sounds-Stay With Me
On this song from his debut album, Lupe reveals the fact he didn’t always like rap music because of its sinful content, cursing, and negative attitude towards women. However, besides his superb lyrical performance on this, this beat steals the show for me. Its a raw, introspective and soothing beat that just makes you drown within in the song. Food & Liquor for us will always be Lupe’s best album, however we are very much looking forward to Drogas Light, Drogas and Skulls.
Cunnilynguists – Beautiful Girl
Song: Beautiful Girl
Sample: Dreams – “Dream Suite”
Cunnniynguists are probably one of the most underrated rap group of all time, while their producer Kno remains terribly overlooked. They managed to give us Will Rap For Food, Oneirology, A Piece of Strange and SouthernUnderground that contains some of the best production ever heard in rap. Beautiful girl deserves to be in the top 10 on every list hip hop soulful songs list. Kno managed to a sample part of Dream Suite and masterfully transform it into a soothing beat with added stretched out vocals and funky drums with elements of jazz. They may be forgotten, but they are forever immortalised.
Jay Z – Girls, girls, girls
Artist: Jay Z
Producer: Just Blaze
Sample: Dreams – Tom Brock – There Is Nothing In This World That Can Stop Me
Girls, Girls, Girls has always had that nostalgia moment for me. I remember being a kid and just watching MTV waiting for this song to come up. I always loved this song, it was funny, fresh and had hot girls in the video. Come on, who didn’t have a crush with Carmen Electra and Tamala Jones back in the day? Anyways, girls aside, from a pure objective standpoint this was a well produced song and one of Just Blaze’s best material of work. Hard hitting drums and higher pitched vocals are added to the production which lays the foundation for Jay Z to spit some real funny shit. Man we really do miss the old Jay Z.
Kanye West – Through The Wire
Artist: Kanye West
Song: Through The Wire
Producer: Kanye West
Sample: Chaka Khan – Through The Wire
Essentially, through the wire is a super sped up sample from the song Through The Wire by Chaka Khan (everyone’s favourite female singer) but it ends up being as effective and emotional as the original song. It was the song that made what Kanye West is today, a legend, an icon, arrogant and a genius. It all started from that one song. Kanye spits that raw and inspirational shit that makes you wanna get up, top slacking and chase that dream you want to achieve. As Kanye raps, you could feel his passion and fire. Thank you Kanye.
Blu & Exile – In Remembrance of Me
Artist: Blu & Exile
Song: In Remembrance of Me
Sample: O’JAYS – How Time Flies
Whenever I hear anyone talk about Blu all I think about is tragedy. Its tragic how drugs took over his life and because of that he lost all the potential he had. Blu was supposed to be the one, he was supposed to be alongside Kendrick Lamar, Drake and J Cole today, I mean he was J Cole before J Cole was J Cole (Im not just saying that because they look alike). That aside him and Exile managed to formulate one of the best rap albums of the 2000 – 2009 decade. Exile is in the mold of Kno as they both are underrated producers. Exile’s production was brilliant throughout Below The heavens, the album is filled with soulful samples but In Remembrance of Me is without a single doubt the best song on the album. It’s a well polished song with excellent well layered production. I don’t know why but I always found this song sad to listen to. But however sad the song is, it definitely deserves the number 5 spot on this list.
Raekwon – Heaven & Hell
Song: Heaven & Hell
Sample: SYL JOHNSON “Could I be falling in love
Everytime I listen to this song, It kinda reminds me of Ice Cube’s It Was a Good Day, so much that I think of this song as the east coast version of it or rather a spiritual successor to It Was Good Day. The production on this is fantastic. It’s a real laid back track with introspective and smooth vibes. Whenever I want to have a chill day, I just put this on, lay back, close my eyes and nod my head to the beat. Incredible production by East Coast legend RZA.
Kendrick Lamar – Momma
Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Sample: Lalah Hathaway
Knxwledge is one talented producer, Listening to the original sample of the song the way he flipped it into something that sounds entirely different is a testament to his talent. This beat honestly just sounds euphoric, the vocal sample, the subtle bassline, the distortion, the piano, the harmonies and the stretched out vocals all come together to give the listener an incredible experience. The lyrics Kendrick Lamar lays down are some of the best so far in his career, especially that last verse.
UGK – One Day
Song: One Day
Producers: Pump C, N.O Joe and Bun B
Sample: The Isley Brothers – Ain’t I Been Good to You (Part 1 & 2)
Well, Well, Well, Well it came down to either to this or UGK’s – Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You) ft. OutKast for the number 2 spot but we chose One Day simply because its a better song. One Day is one of the most emotional rap songs made in 1990s . The song features Ron Isley’s smooth voice over a slow and super-funky bass line before the drums and main melody hit. If you haven’t heard this song then you’re fucking up, play that shit after you read this article.
Kanye West – Devil In a New Dress
Artist: Kanye West
Song: Devil In a New Dress
Producers: Bink! and Mike Dean
Sample: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Will You Still Love Me
I’m not even going to talk about it and go in-depth into how wonderfully Bink! sampled the Smokey Robinson video. You can find my analysis of it here: Sample from Kanye West – Devil in a New Dress
Surprisingly there is no production by Kanye on this record and it wasn’t needed at all. Kanye rightfully poured his all into this record lyrically and the end product meant he churned out his second best lyrical performance of his career (Gorgeous being his first). There are moments of comedy, sadness, loss, love and regret but Kanye remains as confident as ever on this track. It’s number one not only because of the legendary guitar moment that happens in the middle of the song and Rick Ross’s phenomenal feat but because it represented kanye’s growth as a lyricist that led to him dropping the second greatest rap album of the 21st century.