The 7 Best Gladys Knight Samples, Ranked
Gladys Knight performing in 1985. Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images

The 7 Best Gladys Knight Samples, Ranked

Ahead of Verzuz, a battle of the beats

7. “Pick Up,” DJ Koze (2018)

Sample: “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye),” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1972)

The primary hook on this underground 2018 club hit is the majestic, buttery voice of the icon herself, Ms. Gladys Knight. It’s enough to make you miss the Pips. Well, almost.

6. “Way To Go,” Skyzoo & 9th Wonder (2006)

Sample: “The Makings of You,” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1974)

As beats go, this is pretty much meat and potatoes, boom-bap hip-hop. 9th Wonder surgically chops up Gladys Knight & The Pips’ inspired cover of Curtis Mayfield’s gorgeous “The Makings of You.” And Skyzoo holds the mic like a grudge.

5. “Da Joint,” EPMD (1997)

Sample: “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1970)

In July 1992, Erick Sermon was allegedly behind the home invasion of his recording partner PMD, reportedly over a financial dispute. Following the immediate split of EPMD, the influential producer’s house was shot up and riddled with bullet holes. What does all this have to do with the celebrated duo’s rugged (and shocking) reunion cut, which brilliantly flips Knight and the Pip’s teary-eyed, slept-on take of Kris Kristofferson’s 1970 country ballad? Not a damn thing. It’s just a wild-ass story.

4. “Us,” Ice Cube (1991)

Sample: “The End of Our Road,” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1968)

Warning: By the time you finish listening to Ice Cube’s searing Death Certificate-era cut, which calls out shiftless, backstabbing Black folk, drug dealers, absentee fathers, and anyone else in the ’hood that happened to piss off the West Coast legend that week, your face will be wearing Mr. Jackson’s perpetual scowl.

3. “No More Rain (In This Cloud),” Angie Stone (1999)

Sample: “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye),” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1972)

Not every R&B singer has the chops to jump over arguably Gladys Knight & The Pips’ most beloved ballad. But not only does Stone pull it off, she makes the case that the durable “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” should have long been mined during hip-hop’s second Golden Era.

2. “In Cold Blood,” Scarface (2002)

Sample: “And This Is Love,” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1973)

Before Kanye West dropped his genre-shifting 2004 debut, The College Dropout, he was a go-to producer with a signature sped-up soul sample sound. Among his most underrated works is Scarface’s throat-grabbing, thinking man’s ode to the dope game “In Cold Blood.” Everything lands perfectly, from the Houston rhyme king’s no-bullshit street tales (“And I’m fo’ sho, I’m gon’ be murdered for this shit that I done…”) to ‘Ye’s understated reworking of the fantastic “And This Is Love.” Better times before West’s MAGA Sunken Place descent.

1. “Can It Be All So Simple,” Wu-Tang Clan (1993)

Sample: “The Way We Were/Try To Remember,” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1974)

With all apologies to the unmitigated gangsta of Barbara Streisand, Gladys Knight & The Pips’ version of “The Way We Were” upstages the original, evoking a kind of heavy cinematic drama that in lesser hands would come off as melodramatic. It certainly got the attention of the RZA, the boundless Abbot of the Wu-Tang Clan, who lifted Knight’s haunting vocals to create one of hip-hop’s most peerless moments. “Can’t It Be All So Simple” makes the case for sampling as high art. By the time Raekwon unleashes his crew’s biographical introduction (“Started off on the island, aka Shaolin…”) you just knew that rap would never be the same again.

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