Here’s a great way to develop your musical knowledge: Who Sampled.com, a reference database listing original sample sources for many of your favorite pop songs.
Want to know all the original songs Kanye West cribbed his hits from? Just search for his name and instantly you’ll find a complete list (over 360 samples and 62 remixes), including recording dates, as well as remixed and original music videos. The site even shows the exact timecode where the sample is triggered.
Browsing around the website you’ll get to know a bunch of artists you’ve probably never heard of before but should know—after all, they’re clearly huge reference points for the musicians you already know and love. Such is the case with Lionnie Liston Smith, American jazzist from back in the day who used to live in France and worked with legends such as Pharoah Sanders and Miles Davis. From his extensive discography more than ten tracks were harvested into more than 20 samples for DJs, rappers and R&B singers. The favorite one is, without a doubt, “A Garden of Peace,” from his 1979 album Dreams of Tomorrow, which has been sampled in at least ten songs over the course of the past 15 years. Jay-Z was one of the first to recognize the track’s potential as an awesome beat, which he utilized in “Dead Presidents.” Other artists like Mary J. Blige, Rick Ross and Nas soon followed his lead.
Lionnie Liston Smith – “A Garden of Peace”Rick Ross Ft. Nas – “Usual Suspects”
Mary J. Blige – “Take Me As I Am”
[via The Green Project]