The Top 10 Hip-Hop Songs That Sampled Isaac Hayes

Chuck D once described Isaac Hayes as his "musical godfather." The rest of us, well, we know him as a music icon—one of those visionaries that come along once in a generation. 

Hayes' influence on hip-hop throughout the 1980s and 1990s was undeniable. Along with redefining soul and R&B, he laid down the building blocks for great rap songs by the likes of Dr. Dre, Jay Z, and Public Enemy.

From relentlessly funky hits to buttery smooth vocals, here are 10 great hip-hop songs that sampled the late great Isaac Hayes.

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GangStarr - "B.I. Vs. Friendship" (feat. M.O.P.)

Moment of Truth album cover

 7 Grand Records

Isaac Hayes - "Come Live with Me"

DJ Premier's knack for sampling lush soul or jazz templates is evident on this GangStarr firecracker from Moment of Truth. This is a lively glimpse into Premier's production wizardry.

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Eric B & Rakim - "Keep the Beat"

Don't Sweat the Technique

MCA Records 

Sample: Isaac Hayes - "Joy"

"Joy" is one of Hayes' most sampled works. Like Eric B & Rakim, the likes of Massive Attack and TLC have also relied on this soulful gem as a source of inspiration for their own hits. "Keep the Beat" appears on Eric B & Rakim's fourth and final album, Don't Sweat the Technique.

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DJ Quik - "Born and Raised"

Born and Raised in Compton album cover

Ruthless Records 

"Born and Raised" was one of the singles off Quik's 1991 opus, Quik is the Name. Quik, a veteran hip-hop producer, retained the electrifying rhythms on "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" and added some fat drum kicks to the mix.

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Wu-Tang Clan - "I Can't Go to Sleep"

The W album cover

 Columbia records

Sample: Isaac Hayes - "Walk on By"

We could easily fill this list with songs that sampled Isaac Hayes' "Walk on By" and still come up with a ton of goodness. This gem from Wu's overlooked 2000 album, The W, finds RZA astutely recapturing the magic of "Walk on By." And yes, that's Isaac Hayes on the chorus.

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Dr. Dre - "Stranded on Death Row"

The Chronic album cover

Death Row

You probably can't tell from the songs he produced on 50 Cent's Curtis, but Dr. Dre used to be a '70s soul junkie. Dre tapped some of the killer samples on "Stranded on Death Row" from the live version of "Do Your Thing."

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Public Enemy - "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos"

Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos album cover

Def Jam Records

Sample: Isaac Hayes - "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic"

Chuck D fondly refers to Isaac Hayes as his "musical godfather," a mentor who taught him about songwriting and the music business. So, it's no surprise that Public Enemy sampled Hayes on this hip-hop gem. Chuck D also teamed up with Hayes on his 1995 album, Branded.

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Jay Z - "Can I Live"

Reasonable Doubt album cover

Roc-a-fella Records

Sample: Isaac Hayes - "The Look of Love"

"Can I Live" is one of Jay Z's all-time best songs and a highlight from Reasonable Doubt. This remarkably poignant track has Hayes' fingerprints all over its DNA, thanks to "The Look of Love." 

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2Pac - "Me Against the World"

Me Against the World

Death Row

Sample: Isaac Hayes - "Walk on By"

Tupac Shakur was a huge fan of Black Moses. He sampled Mr. Hayes on more than one occasion throughout his recording career. In addition to "Inside My Love" by Minnie Riperton, the backdrop for "Me Against the World" was largely borrowed from Hayes' unmistakable classic "Walk on By."

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Notorious B.I.G. - "Warning"

Ready to Die album cover

Bad Boy/Arista Records 

Sample: Isaac Hayes - "Walk on By"

Biggie's 1993 hit "Warning" famously turned this laid-back jazz gem on its head, transforming it into a gritty story about a heist gone-awry. It remains one of the best songs Biggie recorded in his lifetime.

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Geto Boys - "Mind Playing Tricks"

Mind Playing Tricks on Me

Rap-A-Lot Records

Sample: Isaac Hayes - "Hung up on My Baby"

"Mind Playing Tricks" is widely respected as one of the greatest hip-hop songs in history. It's also one of the spookiest rap songs ever. It's a memorable song, in large part to its lineage to the emotional energy of Hayes' "Hung up on My Baby."