One thing I’ve noticed from almost 2 decades online as a prog fan- progressive music fans don’t usually have a lot of love for hip hop. While I feel like this sentiment is changing, especially among younger prog fans, I feel like hip hop and rap are often the go-to whipping boys for prog purists who are giving examples of music that they feel is lazy and uninspired. While I think part of this might be because of (willful) lack of exposure, I think it more stems from lack of context. Just like classic prog can be understood better if you know from whence it came, hip hop can be understood (and maybe even appreciated) with some context. (For the record, I don’t really have any patience for people who dismiss entire genres of music without thorough exposure and investigation…that’s not very “progressive”, in my opinion)
As sampling has been an integral part of hip hop music since it began, hip hop artists are always looking out for an interesting section or rhythm or hook to sample and reinterpret. And though the love isn’t often reciprocated, many MCs, DJs and artists have mined prog for samples, and progressive music has appeared on many hip hop albums through the years. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but is more of a primer of some more popular examples of prog rock in hip hop music. If you have another example, feel free to share in the comments.
“Legend Has It” from Run the Jewels’ album RTJ3 uses a sample from Gentle Giant’s Knots.
Kanye West used lots of classic and progressive rock samples on his album, My Dark Twisted Fantasy. Some examples:
Perhaps the most famous prog sample on the list is “21st Century Schizoid Man” being used as the chorus in the chart topping “Power”. This is mixed together with “Afromerica” by disco group Continent Number 6, and “It’s Your Thing” by funk group “Cold Grits”.
Mike Oldfield released “In High Places”, a song that was sung/co-written by Jon Anderson of Yes fame, in 1987. Kanye West sampled a small part of the chorus in his song, “Dark Fantasy”, complete with a full choir.
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s “You Are — I Am” was used for Kanye’s song “So Appalled”.
Wiz Kalifa, in his song “Ounces and Pounds (OZS & LBS)” samples classic progressive rock band Camel’s song “Lady Fantasy”.
50 Cent sampled Eloy, ‘Isle of Sun’ for his track ‘Financial Freedom’.
Raekwon’s song “Flashback Memories” features the solo section of “Firth of Fifth” by Genesis.
Submitted by Reddit user GryllstheBear:
Madvillian (which consists of MC Doom and Madlib as MC and producer, respectively) sampled “Funny Ways” by Gentle Giant for their track “Strange Ways”.
Insane Clown Posse (yeah I know…) have used some Gong samples over the years, “I Didn’t Mean To Kill Em” takes the first guitar line off “I Am Your Pussy” and repeats it every verse. “Ringmasters World” has a sample from “Pothead Pixies”. “Dead One” has samples from “Flute Salad” and “Selene”, and I’m sure I’ve heard other snippets of Gong in their stuff.
Danny Brown’s album samples a few prog acts, including Guru Guru, Nick Mason, Embryo, and Greenslade
Busdriver’s The Troglodyte Wins is based around the I Get Up, I Get Down bit from Close to the Edge.
Action by Black Mile samples Roundabout, as does Hypnotized by Planet Asia
What Would Meek Do? by Pusha T samples Heart of the Sunrise
The Grind Date by De La Soul is built around a bit from Ritual
City of Industry by Jhest is built on Sound Chaser.
And that’s just a few only from Yes.
Go to Whosampled.com to find literally hundreds more prog samples in hip hop.
Kanye West also sampled Can’s Sing Song Swan in ‘Drunk and Hot Girls’