From Soul to Hip-Hop: The Enduring Legacy of Curtis Mayfield Samples

Curtis Mayfield Samples in Hip-Hop

Discover the timeless influence of Curtis Mayfield samples on hip-hop through iconic samples, artists, and tracks.



      • My favorite Curtis Mayfield samples

      • The most sampled Mayfield track?

      • Neo-soul finds the Pusherman

      • Curtis in hip-hop


    A Soulful Legacy Lives On

    The pulsating rhythm of a hip-hop track often carries within it echoes of a familiar melody, a rhythm that harks back to the soulful tunes of Curtis Mayfield. This is no mere coincidence. The incorporation of Mayfield’s music into the fabric of hip-hop has been a potent force, infusing an ageless soul into the heart of contemporary beats. This discourse aims to delve into the profound impact of Curtis Mayfield on the evolution of hip-hop and the musicians who have perpetuated his legacy through the art of sampling. We invite you to join us as we unravel the intricacies of this soulful marvel that continues to shape the soundscape of modern music.

    Read: Superfly: Dissecting Curtis Mayfield’s Masterpiece

    Curtis Mayfield Samples in Hip-Hop: A Timeless Fusion

    From the early days of hip-hop to the present, Curtis Mayfield’s music has been sampled and reimagined by countless artists. Here’s a brief overview of his influence on the genre:

    The Early Days: A Soulful Foundation

    In the 1980s and 90s, Curtis Mayfield’s music became a staple in hip-hop as producers like Dr. Dre and Pete Rock began incorporating his samples into their tracks. These pioneers laid the groundwork for future generations of hip-hop artists to explore the soulful fusion of Mayfield’s music with their beats.

    The Golden Era: A Flourishing Influence

    During the 1990s, the golden era of hip-hop, Mayfield’s influence reached new heights. His samples were featured in tracks by legendary artists like Tupac (see: “R U Still Down”), The Notorious B.I.G. (see: “Intro”), and Nas (see: “Across the Tracks), solidifying his place in the genre’s history.

    The Modern Age: A Lasting Legacy

    Today, Curtis Mayfield’s samples continue to appear in hip-hop music as new generations of artists pay homage to his timeless sound. Modern artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Chance the Rapper have incorporated his music into their tracks, showcasing the lasting power of his soulful melodies.


    The Top 12 Curtis Mayfield Samples in Hip-Hop

    To truly appreciate the impact of Curtis Mayfield’s music on hip-hop, let’s take a closer look at twelve iconic tracks that have masterfully sampled his work:

    Kanye West – “Touch the Sky” (sampled “Move On Up”):

    Kanye’s got a knack for taking things to new heights, and “Touch the Sky” is no exception. With its infectious horn section and buoyant melody, this track takes the best of “Move On Up” and marries it with Ye’s larger-than-life persona, resulting in a hip-hop anthem for the ages.




    Gang Starr – “Take a Rest” (sampled “Right on For Darkness” by Curtis Mayfield):

    Gang Starr’s “Take a Rest” is a masterclass blending old-school soul with modern hip-hop sensibilities. By sampling Curtis Mayfield’s “Right on for Darkness” the duo crafts a head-nodding track that pays homage to the past while still feeling fresh and relevant.




    D’Angelo and The Vanguard – “Really Love” (sampled “We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue”):

    D’Angelo seamlessly weaves Curtis Mayfield’s socially conscious anthem “We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue” into “Really Love.” The result is a modern R&B classic that melds Mayfield’s soulful essence with D’Angelo’s smooth vocals and neo-soul stylings.




    Chance the Rapper (feat. Nate Fox and Lili K) – “Pusha Man” (sampled “Pusherman”):

    Chance the Rapper’s “Pusha Man” artfully samples Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” to vividly portray Chicago’s complex realities. The track showcases Mayfield’s timeless influence on socially conscious hip-hop with its infectious energy and thought-provoking lyrics.




    Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta” (sampled “Kung Fu”):

    Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta” cleverly incorporates Curtis Mayfield’s funky “Kung Fu.” Lamar’s astute lyricism and Mayfield’s infectious groove combine to create a powerful commentary on black identity, resilience, and cultural legacy.




    Eminem – “I’m Shady” (sampled “Pusherman”):

    Eminem’s “I’m Shady” skillfully utilizes Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” to craft a dark, gritty track showcasing his unparalleled lyrical prowess. The infusion of Mayfield’s iconic melody adds more depth to Eminem’s introspective exploration of his alter ego.




    Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, and Big K.R.I.T. – “Glass House” (sampled “Right on for the Darkness”):

    Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, and Big K.R.I.T. join forces to deliver “Glass House,” which ingeniously samples Curtis Mayfield’s “Right on for the Darkness.” The track exudes a laid-back vibe, blending Mayfield’s soulful essence with the artists’ smooth flow and introspective lyricism.




    Mary J. Blige – “Be Happy” (sampled “You’re So Good to Me”):

    Mary J. Blige’s uplifting anthem “Be Happy” draws inspiration from Curtis Mayfield’s “You’re So Good to Me.” The combination of Mayfield’s infectious rhythm and Blige’s soulful vocals creates a timeless feel-good track that resonates with listeners.




    Wale, Jeremih, and Rick Ross – “That Way” (sampled “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)”):

    Wale, Jeremih, and Rick Ross collaborate on “That Way,” which samples Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song).” The track’s smooth production, catchy hooks, and Mayfield’s romantic crooning make it an irresistible blend of hip-hop and soul.




    Kanye West – “Jesus Walks” (sampled “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go”):

    Kanye West’s groundbreaking hit “Jesus Walks” ingeniously incorporates Curtis Mayfield’s “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go.” The result is a powerful and thought-provoking track that merges spiritual themes with Mayfield’s distinct sound, cementing its place as a hip-hop classic.




    Our Favorite Curtis Mayfield Sample

    Kanye West and Jay-Z – “The Joy” (sampled “The Makings of You” live version):

    Kanye West and Jay-Z team up on “The Joy,” which brilliantly samples a live version of Curtis Mayfield’s “The Makings of You.” The track showcases the lyrical prowess of both artists while paying homage to Mayfield’s timeless artistry.



    These 12 captivating Curtis Mayfield samples in hip-hop represent the creative fusion of two influential musical worlds. They demonstrate how Mayfield’s soulful melodies, socially conscious lyrics, and infectious grooves continue to inspire and shape the hip-hop landscape. Each track is a testament to Mayfield’s enduring legacy and the boundless possibilities of sampling in hip-hop.

    Check out more soul music and sampling: Willie Hutch Samples in Hip-Hop 


    Curtis Mayfield’s Most Sampled Song

    The allure of Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” has resonated with artists across various genres, inspiring them to incorporate its captivating elements into their compositions. Here is a small sample of songs that skillfully appropriate this Curtis Mayfield’s classic track:

    Curtis Mayfield Samples in Hip-Hop | Sample Sundays

    The List in Text Form

    The Cover Girls – “Because of You”: The freestyle hit by The Cover Girls draws upon the irresistible groove of “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” to create a dancefloor anthem that captivates listeners with its infectious energy.

    D’Angelo and The Vanguard – “Really Love”: D’Angelo’s soulful masterpiece skillfully incorporates the enchanting melody of the song to create a modern R&B classic that exudes sensuality and romance.

    Wale, Jeremih, and Rick Ross – “That Way”: This collaboration seamlessly weaves Mayfield’s infectious groove into a contemporary hip-hop hit by Wale, Jeremih, and Rick Ross, celebrating love and desire.

    Slum Village – “Fall in Love”: Slum Village artfully samples Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” in this jazzy hip-hop gem, creating a laid-back and soulful track that captures the essence of love’s intoxicating allure.

    J Dilla – “Give It Up”: J Dilla, known for his exceptional production skills, incorporates elements of “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” in “Give It Up,” resulting in a mesmerizing instrumental track that pays tribute to Mayfield’s artistry.

    Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – “Act Like You Know”: Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth skillfully integrate elements of Mayfield’s song into their classic hip-hop track, creating a seamless fusion of smooth beats and soulful melodies.

    Erykah Badu – “Think Twice”: Erykah Badu’s soulful rendition showcases her unique vocal stylings and artistic vision while drawing inspiration from Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song).”

    Black Milk – “Give the Drummer Sum”: Black Milk’s vibrant hip-hop composition samples Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” to create a dynamic and engaging track that highlights his production prowess.

    Saigon – “The Color Purple”: Saigon’s thought-provoking track incorporates elements of the track to create a poignant narrative about life’s struggles and societal issues.

    The Pharcyde – “Y? (Be Like That)”: The Pharcyde skillfully infuses the sample into their alternative hip-hop sound, adding depth and soulfulness to their introspective lyrics.

    Royce Da 5’9″ – “Tabernacle”: Royce Da 5’9″ pays homage to Mayfield’s iconic track by sampling “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” as the backdrop for his introspective and autobiographical storytelling.

    The Game – “Dope Boys”: The Game’s gritty hip-hop track incorporates elements of Mayfield’s song, adding a touch of soulfulness to his vivid depiction of street life.

    Common – “Make My Day”: Common cleverly samples “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” in “Make My Day,” creating a melodic and introspective track that showcases his lyrical dexterity and Mayfield’s timeless influence.

    Blue Scholars – “North by Northwest”: Blue Scholars incorporate Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)”

    Flying Lotus – “Maybe He Ain’t Lying”: Flying Lotus skillfully incorporates track elements into “Maybe He Ain’t Lying,” creating a mesmerizing fusion of experimental electronic sounds and Mayfield’s soulful groove.

    Kendrick Lamar – “Complexion (A Zulu Love)”: Kendrick Lamar pays tribute to Mayfield by sampling the song in “Complexion (A Zulu Love).” The track explores themes of colorism and self-acceptance, combining Lamar’s insightful lyrics with Mayfield’s timeless melodies.

    The Roots – “The Next Movement”: The Roots incorporate Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” into “The Next Movement,” infusing their jazz-inflected hip-hop with Mayfield’s soulful essence and creating an infectious, groove-driven anthem.

    Childish Gambino – “Feels Like Summer”: Childish Gambino’s “Feels Like Summer” masterfully samples Mayfield’s song to create a dreamy, nostalgic soundscape that captures the essence of long, lazy summer days.

    Lupe Fiasco – “Paris, Tokyo”: Lupe Fiasco skillfully intertwines elements of the track into “Paris, Tokyo,” creating a smooth and introspective track that blends Mayfield’s timeless sound with Fiasco’s poetic storytelling.

    Common – “Forever Begins”: Common’s “Forever Begins” draws inspiration from “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” to create a heartfelt and introspective ode to enduring love. The track showcases Common’s lyrical prowess and pays homage to Mayfield’s profound influence.

    Pusha T – “Numbers on the Boards”: Pusha T samples the track in “Numbers on the Boards,” infusing the track with Mayfield’s soulful essence, adding depth to Pusha T’s gritty and assertive rhymes.

    Mick Jenkins – “Spread Love”: Mick Jenkins incorporates elements of the song into “Spread Love,” creating a track that is both thought-provoking and sonically pleasing. Jenkins’ introspective lyrics find a perfect match in Mayfield’s timeless sample.

    Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – “Harold’s”: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib expertly sample the track in “Harold’s,” creating a gritty and hard-hitting track that showcases Gibbs’ raw lyricism against Mayfield’s soulful backdrop.

    J. Cole – “Folding Clothes”: J. Cole incorporates smooth melodies into “Folding Clothes,” delivering a heartfelt ode to love and domesticity. The track showcases Cole’s storytelling ability and pays homage to Mayfield’s enduring musical legacy.

    SZA – “Prom”: SZA creatively samples “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” in “Prom,” weaving Mayfield’s soulful sound into her own contemporary R&B stylings. The result is a dreamy and nostalgic track capturing youthful romance’s essence.

    Curtis Mayfield Samples in Hip-Hop: FAQs 

    Q: Why is Curtis Mayfield’s music so popular among hip-hop artists?

    A: Curtis Mayfield’s music has a timeless quality that resonates with hip-hop artists. His soulful melodies, powerful messages, and unique sound provide a perfect foundation for sampling and remixing, making his music an irresistible choice for producers.

    Q: Which Curtis Mayfield song has been sampled the most in hip-hop?

    A: It’s tough to pin down the exact most-sampled Curtis Mayfield song, but “Move On Up” and “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)” are undoubtedly frontrunners.

    Q: How has Curtis Mayfield’s music influenced the development of hip-hop?

    A: Curtis Mayfield’s music has played a significant role in shaping hip-hop’s sound and themes. By incorporating his soulful melodies and socially conscious messages into their tracks, hip-hop artists have helped bridge the gap between soul and hip-hop, creating a unique fusion that inspires generations.

    Q: Are there any modern hip-hop artists who sound like Curtis Mayfield?

    A: While no one can truly replicate Curtis Mayfield’s unique sound, artists like Anderson .Paak, Leon Bridges, and Jidenna have been praised for their ability to channel a similar soulful vibe in their music.

    Q: What other genres of music have been influenced by Curtis Mayfield?

    A: Curtis Mayfield’s samples have also made their way into other genres like electronic, R&B, and Reggae (via Curtis Mayfield’s works in The Impressions, a major influence on Bob Marley and The Wailers, who covered many hits from Mayfield’s successful group), and rock music. His universal appeal and timeless sound make his music a popular choice for artists across the board.

    Q: How has using Curtis Mayfield samples in hip-hop evolved over time?

    A: As hip-hop has evolved, so has the use of Curtis Mayfield samples. Early hip-hop artists tended to use his samples as the backbone of their tracks, while modern artists often reimagine their work more subtly, weaving his sound into the fabric of their music.

    The Timeless Appeal of Curtis Mayfield Samples in Hip-Hop

    Curtis Mayfield’s influence on hip-hop is undeniable. His samples have provided a soulful foundation for countless tracks, shaping hip-hop’s sound and themes from the genre’s early days to the present. As new generations of artists continue to discover and reimagine his work, the legacy of Curtis Mayfield’s samples in hip-hop will continue.

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