7. “Soul Sister,” Finesse & Synquis (1988)
Interpolation: “Lady Marmalade,” LaBelle (1974)
It’s a testament to the durable greatness of LaBelle’s signature anthem that the song has managed to become an indelible part of the great American songbook, despite its head-turning subject matter about a prostitute looking for prospective Johns. The delightfully outrageous trio of Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash broke empowering ground and would go on to inspire a plethora of covers and revisions, including the Lefrak City Queens, New York hip-hop duo Finesse & Synquis’ synth-heavy interpolation of funky, and an Allen Toussaint/Vicki Wickham produced jam. And you don’t even have to worry about embarrassing yourself trying to pronounce “Lady Marmalade’s” original tongue-twisting French chorus.
6. “My Place,” Nelly Feat. Jaheim (2004)
Sample: “Isn’t It a Shame,” LaBelle (1977)
Our first appearance by Nelly (the St. Lunatic hitmaker loved him some Patti) is a straight-up slow jam, complete with the husky throwback vocals of around-the-way lover man Jaheim. If you’re a stuffy hip-hop purist who worships at the altar of MF Doom, “My Place” is one of the rare moments you won’t have a violent convulsion at the thought of listening to a Nelly record not produced by the Neptunes.
5. “Lay It Down,” Lloyd (2010)
Sample: “Love, Need, and Want You,” Patti LaBelle (1983)
While “Lay It Down” doesn’t quite reach the artistic zenith of Lloyd’s previous gems “Southside,” “Get It Shawty,” and “You,” producer Polow da Don understood how to get out of the way and let Patti LaBelle’s most celebrated solo single work its magic.
4. “Home,” Kanye West featuring John Legend (2005)
Sample: “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Bluebelles (1963)
Before LaBelle, there was the Bluebelles (formerly the Blue Belles), an act formed out of the ashes of two rival girl groups out of Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey. The unabashedly innocent cover of the classic 1945 Rogers and Hammerstein show tune is brought back to life by West in this The College Dropout-era loosie. It’s so Chicago that it will make you shed a tear for a time when a pre-Kardashian West was beginning his journey as the Windy City’s favorite hip-hop son.
3. “Dilemma,” Nelly and Kelly Rowland (2002)
Interpolation: “Love, Need and Want You,” Patti LaBelle (1983)
During the summer of 2002, “Dilemma,” Nelly’s saccharine duet with Destiny’s Child second-best known member (and criminally underrated) Kelly Rowland was damn-near inescapable. The mammoth, multiplatinum, global number one crossover record pushes you back into the beloved ultimate auntie arms of Patti LaBelle.
2. “GhettoMusick,” OutKast (2003)
Sample: “Love, Need and Want You,” Patti LaBelle (1983)
Notice a trend here? OutKast’s beat flip into LaBelle’s ultimate quiet storm staple is so glorious that it makes you wonder why the Big Boi-led single “GhettoMusick” didn’t keep the floating groove going.
1. “Glaciers of Ice,” Raekwon Feat. Masta Killa, Ghostface, and Blue Raspberry (1995)
Interpolation: “Over the Rainbow,” Patti LaBelle (1981)
If ever you want proof of the RZA’s unorthodox genius, look no further than Raekwon’s standout Only Built 4 Cuban Linx album cut “Glaciers of Ice.” Rather than just sample LaBelle’s soaring remake of The Wizard of Oz’s landmark song “Over the Rainbow,” the Wu’s chief orchestrator instructed protégé Blue Raspberry to re-sing the great’s show-stopping crescendo. Struggle vocals aside, Raspberry’s, um, heartfelt reimagining adds to the frenetic pace of a track that still makes you feel like you can run through a 10-inch steel wall.
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