The Rhythms of Resilience: Tina Turner’s Influence on Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop’s Affair w/ “What’s Love Got to Do With It”

Often hailed as “The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Tina Turner needs no grand introduction. With her soulful voice, high energy, and captivating stage presence, Turner has etched her legacy into the annals of music history. She navigated a tumultuous journey marked by personal trials, finally emerging victorious globally. However, beyond the realm of rock and soul, her influence permeates the vibrant world of hip-hop, an echo that resounds in several iconic tracks sampled from her mega-hit, “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

A sonic manifestation of Turner’s resilient spirit, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” is the anthem that catapulted her solo career to stratospheric heights in 1984. Winning three Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, the song shattered many records and, more importantly, societal perceptions about love and relationships. It paved the way for an exciting cross-genre conversation, with hip-hop artists finding inspiration in its timeless melody and powerful lyrics.

Tina Turner Samples in Hip-Hop

What's Got to Do with It Samples in Hip-Hop

“What’s Luv?” by Fat Joe feat. Ashanti (2001)

Drawing a parallel between Turner’s rhetorical question about love and his own musings, Fat Joe recontextualizes “What’s Love Got to Do With It” in his 2001 chart-topper “What’s Luv?” Featuring Ashanti, this track infuses Turner’s soulful chorus into a fresh hip-hop ambiance, creating a dialogue between past and present interpretations of love and its role in society.



“Attention” by Fat Joe and Dre feat. Chris Brown (2018)

In a further testament to Turner’s enduring relevance, Fat Joe samples her again in “Attention,” a collaboration with Dre and Chris Brown. The track employs Turner’s iconic melody as a recurring motif, underlining the song’s exploration of fame, relationships, and the need for genuine connection in a world often distracted by glittering facades.


“Machine Gun Funk” by The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)

Turner’s influence reached even hip-hop pioneers, such as The Notorious B.I.G. His track “Machine Gun Funk” samples “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” weaving Turner’s powerful vocals into its fabric. This sampling technique affirms B.I.G’s knack for blending diverse musical elements, creating a unique brand of hip-hop that continues to inspire artists today.


“What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Warren G feat. Adina Howard (1996)

Warren G’s track of the same name features Adina Howard and samples Turner’s classic heavily in a more explicit homage. This cover pays tribute to the original and offers a fresh, hip-hop-infused interpretation, highlighting the genre’s capacity for reinvention and adaptation.

Tina Turner Samples in Hip-hop

“How High” by J. Cole (2011)

J. Cole, in his 2011 track “How High,” samples Turner’s hit as a rhythmic foundation, demonstrating the timelessness of her music. J. Cole’s thoughtful lyricism, paired with the melodic echo of Turner’s hit, exemplifies hip-hop’s capacity to engage with complex themes while offering compelling music.


“Street Dreams” by Nas (1996)

Legendary artist Nas’s “Street Dreams” subtly integrates Turner’s hit, using it as a part of its instrumental backdrop. This approach underscores Nas’s storytelling prowess, adding a familiar sonic layer that enriches his narrative of aspirations and struggles.



“What’s Clef” by Wyclef Jean feat. Naomi Campbell (1998)

Lastly, Wyclef Jean’s “What’s Clef,” featuring Naomi Campbell, creatively reworks “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” Jean’s track is a testament to Turner’s cross-genre and cross-generational influence, confirming her music’s ability to adapt and resonate with various styles and audiences.

Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” remains influential in the music world, transcending the boundaries of rock and soul to permeate hip-hop’s sonic landscape. These sampled tracks, each unique artistic approach, collectively pay homage to Turner’s resilience and lasting impact. They are a testament to the timeless appeal of her music, further cementing her status as a true music legend.


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