(Credit: Hip Hop Hero)

Features

Story Behind The Sample: How Lauryn Hill helped Drake create 'Nice For What'

Toronto rapper Drake is one of the most decorated artists in hip hop. With four Grammy awards, 13 BET awards and a whopping 34 Billboard awards, the Young Money artist has a permanent residency in the charts. However, sometimes even Drake needs a little help to craft his musical masterpieces.

Sampling is an age-old practice in hip hop. In fact, some of the most popular songs in the genre contain other songs within their composition. Kanye West is undeniably considered the master of sampling, drawing a lot of his samples from soul. On the other hand, Timbaland is also known for sampling but leans towards old Arabic music. Regardless of the type of music producers sample, it has always been an integral part of hip hop production.

Unsurprisingly, as a hip hop artist, Drake’s tracks often contain samples, and his popular jam ‘Nice For What’ has a sample from 1990s legend Lauryn Hill. Lauryn Hill is considered a legend in the game and has produced some of hip hop and neo-soul’s most beloved songs. Her abrupt exit from music confused many and disgruntled the entire genre. However, considering Hill’s solo discography is only comprised of one album, she impacted the culture greatly. 

Drake’s ‘Nice For What’ was produced by multiple artists: Murda Beatz, Noah “40” Shebib and Corey Litwin and samples the 1998 single ‘Ex-Factor’ by Lauryn Hill. Funnily enough, ‘Ex-Factor’ also contains a sample and features elements from the song ‘Can It Be All So Simple’ by The Wu-Tang Clan. 

‘Ex-Factor’ was recorded across two different studios. Chung King Studios in New York and Marley Music Inc. in Kingston, Jamaica and, with regard to content, is rumoured to be about Hill’s former groupmate Wyclef Jean. The song has been sampled by a plethora of artists and is a popular choice for sampling due to its intoxicating chord progressions. In 2018 when sampled by Drake for his album Scorpion, it was also sampled by Cardi B for her single ‘Be Careful’.

Delving deeper into ‘Ex-Factor’, as it samples ‘Can It Be All So Simple’ by The Wu-Tang Clan, it subsequently samples ‘The Way We Were’ by Gladys Knight and the Pips. As a result, All members of The Wu-Tang Clan and Hill are credited as composers on Drake’s ‘Nice For What’. 

‘Nice For What’ debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 as well as the UK Singles Chart. It has been certified five-times platinum in the US and two times platinum in the UK. All composers will see royalties as a result of this.

You can listen to ‘Ex-Factor’ and ‘Nice For What’ in the videos below.