Top Five Nirvana Samples in Hip-Hop
Last week in our sister publication LA Weekly's West Coast Sound, I wrote a piece titled "Jay-Z Bungles Nirvana" about the shortcomings that Jay-Z exhibits in attempting to channel Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail. That's not to say Kurt Cobain's work should by any means be off limits in hip-hop, rather plenty of artists have used Nirvana's musical quotations to either drive home a point or create something totally new. These are our picks for the Top 5 Nirvana Samples of all time.
5) Atmosphere featuring Heiruspecs - "Aspiring Sociopath (Live)" 2001
When Atmosphere released their Lucy Ford album, comprised of their Lucy and two Ford EPs, journalists were quick to scoff, or at least make note, of the ballsy use of quoting "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on the song "Aspiring Sociopath." Interesting as it was, the live instrumentation of fellow Twin Cities hip-hop heroes Heiruspecs brought it to another level on the live recording found on the group's Sad Clown Bad Dub 3 release, including adding rapper Slug's take on Nirvana's "Lithium" as well.
4) Trae the Truth - "Real Rock Star" 2007
The summer of 2007 saw the "Party Like a Rock Star" fad affect hip-hop fashion and rap music to such a degree that, in retrospect, it's odd to imagine a music climate where it became so popular. While many of the tracks around this time haven't aged particularly well, one stand-out is Texas rapper Trae the Truth's "Real Rock Star." While there were rumors at the time of Trae's label Rap-A-Lot attempting to negotiate with Courtney Love in order to clear it for his album, this mixtape cut stands as an interesting snapshot of a moment in time.