The five legendary rap songs that sample Led Zepplin
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The five legendary rap songs that sample Led Zepplin

Led Zepplin is a legendary rock group known worldwide for its fantastic music. Comprised of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones, the British band has been more than happy to clear samples for hip-hop producers who creatively repurpose them. This has led to some amazing tracks.

The rhythms, bass riffs and epic guitar solos that the Rock ‘n’ Roll collective delivered transcended the genre they operated in. Some of their material married beautifully with hip-hop and was seamlessly incorporated into the instrumentals of rap classics.

Hip-hop and rock are like two peas in a pod. Although sonically, they are two very different genres, they share one thing in common: the aura of rebellion. Whether it’s punk or heavy metal, the genre of rock has many highly anti-establishment and non-conformist derivatives regarding their lyrics and delivery.

As such, it is unsurprising that producers such as Rick Rubin, Kanye West and Pete Rock have often turned to rock drum breaks and guitar riffs to add spice to their beats. Below, you can see five tracks that make use of Led Zepplin and their incredible catalogue.

Five legendary rap songs that sample Led Zepplin:

2Pac – ‘Life’s So Hard’,Gang Related – The Soundtrack, (1997)

2Pac’s ‘Life’s so Hard’ is a track few know about. It officially appeared on the soundtrack of the 1997 film Gang Related, which also starred the emcee. Along with actors such as James Earl Jones and Dennis Quaid, the film received mixed reviews, and not many heard the soundtrack.

‘Life’s So Hard’ was initially meant to be released in 1993 on Thug Life: Volume 2. However, that project never came to fruition. The beat of ‘Life’s So Hard’, made by Queens producer Stretch, samples ‘Ten Years Gone’ from Led Zepplin’s 1971 project Physical Graffiti. It also incorporates elements of ‘Good Old Music’ by Funkadelic and ‘Slaughtahouse’ by Masta Ace Incorporated.

The Game feat. Busta Rhymes – ‘Doctor’s Advocate’, Doctor’s Advocate, (2006)

Featuring Busta Rhymes, this track appears on the Game’s sophomore album of the same name. The “Doctor” in the title of this song was a reference to Dr Dre and was a way for the Compton native to pay homage to the producer after leaving Aftermath Entertainment.

The beat of ‘Doctor’s Advocate’ was made by J.R. Rotem and samples the melody of Led Zepplin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from the 1971 album Led Zeppelin IV. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the track number 31 on its ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ list. With an added piano melody, the song is hard-hitting and sombre.

Eminem – ‘Kim’, The Marshall Mathers LP, (2000)

This track is one of Eminem’s most extreme and aggressive. Aimed at his ex-wife, Kim Scott, the track hears the Detroit rapper deliver lines such as “Sit down, bitch! You move again, I’ll beat the shit out of you!” and “Get the fuck away from me! / Don’t touch me! / I hate you! I hate you! I swear to God, I hate you!”

During this period, Eminem was still going through a divorce and was struggling with fame and trying to co-parent and see his daughter. The song was produced by Eminem’s longtime collaborators the Bass Brothers, and samples Led Zepplin’s cover of ‘When The Levee Breaks’ from Led Zepplin IV. The song’s main guitar riff is distorted to an extreme, making the beat sound violent and deranged, which suits the lyrics perfectly.

Beastie Boys – ‘Beastie Groove’, Rock Hard, (1985)

The Beastie Boys, with Rick Rubin behind them, constantly experimented with rock and, to this day, are arguably still unparalleled in how they managed to marry the genre with hip-hop. ‘Beastie Groove’ didn’t appear on any of their albums, but it was a B-Side track of their 3-track 1984 Rock Hard EP. 

Produced by the legendary Rick Rubin of Def Jam, the rap song samples Led Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’ by incorporating the iconic line “Hey, hey mama” into the middle of the song. ‘Black Dog’ was the first track of Led Zepplin IV and became a fan favourite. They played it regularly during their sets. 

Diddy ft Jimmy Page – ‘Come With Me’, Godzilla: The Album, (1998)

Released as part of the soundtrack to the 1998 film Godzilla, this track is the definition of rap-rock. Released only one year after the death of Biggie Smalls, ‘Come With Me’ features Bad Boy Entertainment founder Diddy. As the only hip-hop figure on the soundtrack, the song incorporates some rapping.

This song doesn’t merely sample an old Led Zepplin song, Diddy (real name Sean Combs) worked directly with Jimmy Page, John Bonham and Robert Plant on the track.