Those looking for a romantic and soulful Valentines date with their mate this year should look no further than American Airlines Center. Tomorrow, three out of six members of New Edition (Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill, and Bobby Brown) will open up for a night with the inimitable Patti Labelle. Though widely know as one of the original queens of R&B, samples of Labelle's classic ballads have made quite a contribution to the world of rap music as well. Over the years she's made her way into a number of hip-hop songs, and has even done some video cameos here and there. Labelle once played Kelly Rowland's mom in the extremely corny clip for the Nelly duet "Dilemma."
Sampling is one of the structural elements of hip-hop music. Any artist as accomplished across as many genres as Patti Labelle is bound to have her catalog frequently referenced for beatmaking. Here are the best results.
Florida rapper Plies released this hard-knock testimonial track on 2008'sDefinition of Real
. The Rodnae produced beat sampled Patti Labelle's "Somebody Loves You Baby (You Know Who It Is)." Of all the tracks on this list, Plies' homage stays truest to the tradition of the original song. Minimalistic looping and high octave synth have made this simple beat a memorable one. Just last year, Hodgy Beats (of Odd Future and MellowHype fame) dropped "Higashu Loves You" over it- a freestyle from a hotel room.3. "If You Only Knew" by Do Or Die feat. Twista & Syleena Johnson - ☆☆☆ ½
Chicago's spitfire crooks recruited two of their city's biggest talents on 2005's Do or Die. Syleena Johnson coos a version of one of LaBelle's biggest hits on the hook, 1983's classic of the same name. The verses serves up speedily delivered adoration to the subject of their respective serenade over the punchy, heavily filtered beat. It's classic soul-sample built Chicago rap music.2. "Home" by Kanye West feat. John Legend - ☆☆☆☆
"Home" is the less familiar original demo version of "Homecoming," the 2005 Kanye single which featured vocal assistance from Coldplay's Chris Martin. A bonus track b-side on The College Dropout, the rough cut sampled one of the more obscure records on this list. You'll Never Walk Alone was a released in 1963 by one of Patti LaBelle's first big girl groups, The Bluebelles. Kanye's boom bap percussion over You'll Never Walk Alone's looped doo wop harmonies give the recycled verses a whole different feel.
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2003's Speakerboxx/The Love Below effort from Georgia's beloved superduo produced two of the most influential albums in the last decade of hip hop music. Outkast trailblazed new ground creatively and inspired a generation with their respective efforts (so much so, that their fans think they're entitled to reunion). Ghettomusick in particular stands out for it's edgy & aggressive ghetto tech production by Andre 3000, cut up nicely with Patti LaBelle's Love Want and Need You over the bridge. The 1983 ballad makes the perfect juxtaposition with the dense and abstract beat. This is also by far Labelle's best video cameo, in which she cooks Big Boi a Southern chicken dinner.