Madonna. Janet Jackson. Kehlani. What do these musicians have in common? Besides being widely talented recording artists, they’ve all sampled Canadian songs.
From hip-hop to pop to folk and beyond, check out our list that proves Canadians can inspire more than just good manners.
Song: "Got 'Til It's Gone," Janet Jackson feat. Q-Tip (1997)
Canadian sample: "Big Yellow Taxi," by Joni Mitchell (1970)
Joni Mitchell penned one of her greatest hits, "Big Yellow Taxi," on her first trip to Hawaii in 1970. In an interview with LA Times, she talks about what inspired her to write the song: "I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart ... this blight on paradise."
Twenty-seven years later, "Got 'Til It's Gone" was the lead single from Janet Jackson's album Velvet Rope. It centered on a sample of Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," where Mitchell sings, "Don't it always seem to go/ that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone?" Within the song, Q-Tip echoes back saying, "Joni Mitchell never lies." Though Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" describes the clash of nature with modern society, Jackson's "Got 'Til It's Gone" talks about a relationship.
Song: "Hip-hop Creature," Mellow Man Ace (1989)
Canadian sample: "Tom Sawyer," Rush (1981)
"Tom Sawyer" is known as one of Rush's best-known tracks, and a staple of classic rock. It hit No. 44 on the U.S. Blillboard Hot 100, and would later be inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame. It's also been featured in several movies and television shows including Fanboys, The Waterboy, Trailer Park Boys and Futurama, to name a few.
Cypress Hill's Mellow Man Ace sampled "Tom Sawyer" in his song "Hip-hop Creature," eight years after the Rush song's release. Throughout the track you can hear the electronic effects and the signature swoop that makes "Tom Sawyer" a classic. "Hip-hop Creature" introduced the West Coast rapper as a solo artist with his 1989 debut album, Escape From Havana.
Song: "Did I," Kehlani (2015)
Canadian Sample: "Intuition," Feist (2007)
"Intuition," written by Feist, is a single off her third album, The Reminder. Within the song Feist talks about someone who chooses to stay distant and noncommittal in life and love, and ultimately regrets that decision over time: "A destination known/ only by the one/ whose fate is overgrown/ piecemeal can break your home in half/ a love is not complete with only heat."
In 2015, Kehlani sampled "Intuition" but added an assertiveness to her version. In it, Kehlani sings about her power position in music and relationships: "You got a lot things to say/ you got a lot things on your plate/ you got a lot on me/ know a lot of things that I just can not say is quite on my wave."
Song: "Cheers (Drink to That)," Rihanna (2010)
Canadian Sample: "I'm With You," Avril Lavigne (2002)
Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You" is the third single off of her 2002 debut album, Let Go. The ballad, describing Lavigne's feelings of loneliness and her need for a helping hand, turned out to be one of her biggest hits from her debut, reaching No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
In 2010, Rihanna sampled "I'm With You" on "Cheers (Drink to That)." In an interview with MTV News she said, "I'm just glad that we could use her sample, because it became such a huge part of the instrumental that if it were not in the song, it would change the whole vibe of it."
"[The song] gives you a great feeling inside like you want to go out and have a drink ... people can't wait for the weekend," she continued.
Song: "Human Nature," Madonna (1995)
Canadian Sample: "What You Need," Main Source (1993)
Main Source was a Canadian/American hip-hop group based in New York and Toronto. The conscious rappers broke up before releasing their second album. "What You Need" talks about a few issues: real friendships, industry grievances and teenage frustrations.
Madonna sampled the bassline from Main Source's "What You Need" in her song "Human Nature," which appeared on her 1994 album, Bedtime Stories. According to Billboard, the song is a challenge "to those people who don't want to discuss sexuality — they just want to chastise you for talking about it." "Express yourself, don't repress yourself" is a classic line within the song.
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