Jay-Z Channels Nirvana: A Look Back at His 7 Most Unexpected Samples

You can say what you want about Jay-Z but he sure knows how to sample!


Of the 16 tracks on Jay-Z’s new  Magna Carta… Holy Grail, one in particular (the lead-off track) has received special attention for its take on a song far outside the Jigga Man’s wheelhouse. “Holy Grail,” which features Justin Timberlake on vocals, includes a pretty major nod to Nirvana’s 1991 hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” But it doesn’t sound like the the full-bodied and familiar samples we’re used to hearing in rap songs. Instead, a cabal of producers reworked the track by having Jay-Z sing the iconic chorus on top of a distorted version of the track. Listen here:

This surprising inclusion of a decidedly non-rap song inspired us to take a look back at some of Jay-Z’s most unexpected samples, from the subtly unique to the more blatantly attention-grabbing.

“Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” – 1998

[ Sample: “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” from the Broadway musical Annie ]

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