Decades after his tragic death, Marvin Gaye‘s presence is strongly felt throughout all forms of music.
Much like James Brown and Gil Scott Heron, his work has helped shaped music as we know it. From the early days of Nas and Kanye West, to rappers like Wale, Gaye’s influence is just as strong as ever.
As we embark on what would have been his 76th birthday, we’re reminded that no one samples Marvin Gaye better than the world of hip-hop.
Despite the battle his family went through with Robin Thicke and Pharrell over “Blurred Lines,” other artists have diligently praised the singer with their singles.
There are hundreds of Gaye samples in the ethos of the genre, but check out these tracks, ranked from interesting to amazing, that we can’t forget. What are your favorite Marvin Gaye samples? Sound off in the comments below…
13. Wale featuring Sam Drew “LoveHate Thing” (2013) | “What’s Going On” (1971)
The D.C. native dropped his Album About Nothing this week, but this gem from Ambition is a silky smooth homage to Gaye.
12. Tweet featuring Missy Elliott “Turn Da Lights Off” (2003) | “If This World Were Mine” (1967)
Missy used her production skills on this throwback track with Gaye’s chorus from “If This World Were Mine” with Tammi Terrell. Tweet also pays homage to Terrell with her ’60s doe-eye look in the music video.
11. Shaquille O Neal featuring Lord Tariq & Mobb Deep “Legal Money” (1997) | “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” (1973) featuring Diana Ross
We couldn’t let you forget Shaq’s rap career. The player rides the white horse (hey, his words) as Gaye’s ad-libs from “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” loop perfectly in the background.
10. Three 6 Mafia “Sippin On Some Syrup” (2000) | “Is That Enough” (1978)
Back when Juicy J was known with his Three 6 Mafia family, the group dropped the breakaway hit “Sippin On Some Syrup,” bleeding the funk and soul from Gaye’s “Is That Enough.” A mix of cultures shed light on the infamous “sizzurp” drinks made popular by the group, Lil Wayne, and the late Pimp C.
9. Nas featuring R. Kelly “Street Dreams” (1996) | “Mercy, Mercy, Me” (1971)
Nas’ original “Street Dreams” already featured a sample from Ron Isley, but the remix catches the optimism and lighthearted soul of Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy, Me.”
8. Common “Love Is..” (2007) | “God Is Love” (1970)
The late and great J.Dilla created a nostalgic track with Common for the fan favorite project, Be. Keeping the theme of love and togetherness close, Common drops the same sentiments of loving family, friends, and yourself.
7. Brand Nubian “Meaning of the 5%” (1992) | ’T’ Stands For Trouble” (1972)
After Brand Nubian’s critically acclaimed debut album One For All, the group dropped In God We Trust with the interlude, “Meaning of the 5%.” Joined by Louis Farrakhan’s speech on the “Nation of Gods and Earths,” the track gives listeners a huge amount of knowledge.
6. Bone Thugz In Harmony “First of tha Month” (1995) | “Sexual Healing” (1982)
Both tunes are feel good, and who doesn’t love the first of the month?
5. Kanye West “Spaceship” featuring GLC & Consequence (2004)| “Distant Lover” (1973)
Like J. Dilla, Kanye West is an avid user of Gaye samples, most notably in his debut album The College Dropout. The rapper’s woes about work, racism, and daily struggles give new life to the track.
4. The Jacksons “Shake Your Body To The Ground” (1978) | “Got To Give It Up” (1977)
A song sampled just a year after its release says something big about Gaye’s legacy. Even sweeter is the legendary hit it made for Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.
3. De La Soul & J Dilla “Marvin Jaye” (2014) | “Sexual Healing” (1982)
This unheard track was released last year during De La Soul’s gift of their free catalog to fans. The track stems from J.Dilla’s Smell The D.A.I.S.Y., a mixtape perfectly blending the group with some of Gaye’s best tunes.
2. Eric Sermon featuring Marvin Gaye “Music” (2001)| “Turn On Some Music” (1982)
Eric Sermon’s “Music” exposed a new generation to Marvin Gaye’s more upbeat jams like “Turn On Some Music.”
1. Mary J. Blige & Method Man “You’re All I Need (To Get By) “(1995) | “You’re All I Need To Get By” featuring Tammi Terrell (1968)
R&B and hip-hop’s best came together to create one of the genre’s most prolific recordings with “You’re All I Need (To Get By.)” Method Man and Mary J. Blige were able to create a classic thanks to Gaye’s memorable duet with Tammi Terrell.
Just for kicks, here are some more jams:
All Star Tribute: “What’s Going On” | “What’s Going On”
Kanye West, Teyana Taylor Cyhi da Prince ft. Cam’ron, Pusha T, Big Sean, Vado, Musiq Soulchild and Jim Jones “Christmas In Harlem” | “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”
Jay Electronica “Dealing” | “Sexual Healing”
Listen to the full playlist here.
VIDEO CREDIT: YouTube | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty