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Soul music didn’t just influence hip-hop; it became its lifeblood. The art of sampling, born from a love of soul records, transformed music production and gave birth to a new genre. Once confined to vinyl grooves, classic soul tracks were reborn as the foundation for hip-hop’s most iconic beats. Today, that legacy lives on.

Nowadays, you can sample soul music from old vinyl records and use platforms such as, which offers ready-made music samples based on 100% royalty-free licenses that can be used in any music project. Producers continue to tap into the power of the soul to create the soundtrack for the streets.

But where did it all begin?

Vinyl’s Golden Era: Sampling Soul Classics

The art of crate digging defined the early days of hip-hop. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of music and a relentless ear for sonic treasures, visionary producers embarked on quests through dusty record stores, unearthing hidden gems in the grooves of soul vinyl. These pioneers, often DJs themselves, possessed an uncanny ability to identify and isolate the perfect snippets – drum breaks, basslines, or vocal hooks – that would become the foundation for iconic hip-hop beats. Here are some important names:

DJ Kool Herc

A Jamaican-American DJ, Herc is credited with founding hip-hop music in the Bronx, New York City, in 1973. Herc revolutionized DJing by extending instrumental breaks in funk and soul records, creating a continuous rhythm for MCs to rap over. This technique, known as the “Merry-Go-Round,” laid the groundwork for the sampling culture defining early hip-hop production.

Grandmaster Flash

Flash is a Barbadian-American DJ and musician credited with inventing several groundbreaking DJ techniques that shaped the evolution of hip-hop. Rising to prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Flash created the “Quick Mix Theory,” which involved using duplicate copies of vinyl records to extend drum breaks and create a seamless flow for rappers. This innovation gave birth to the cutting and scratching techniques, fundamentally altering how DJs interacted with music and paving the way for a new era of hip-hop expression.

Afrika Bambaataa

An American DJ, rapper, and producer from the South Bronx, New York. He is considered one of the pioneers of breakbeat DJing and a founding father of hip-hop culture. Bambaataa emerged in the late 1970s and embraced various musical influences, including soul, funk, electro, and Afrobeat. His eclectic sets helped expand hip-hop’s sonic landscape beyond its initial roots. Through his organization, the Universal Zulu Nation, formed from the former street gang the Black Spades, he helped spread hip-hop culture worldwide, promoting peace, unity, and creativity.

Marley Marl

An American DJ, record producer, rapper, and record label founder, primarily operating in hip-hop music. Growing up in the Queensbridge housing projects in Queens, New York, Marl’s early exposure to talent shows fueled his passion for music. He is celebrated for his innovative use of sampling and drum machines, often utilizing soul and funk records to create his signature “beat barrages.” Marl’s unique production style influenced a generation of hip-hop icons, including Biggie Smalls, RZA, DJ Premier, Madlib, and Pete Rock, and is credited with forever changing the sound of hip-hop. His work with artists like MC Shan and LL Cool J helped solidify the sound of early hip-hop and paved the way for the genre’s golden era in the late 80s and early 90s.

Find Soul Music Samples

While the tradition of crate digging remains a cherished practice for many producers, the digital age has opened up new avenues for discovering and incorporating soulful sounds into hip-hop production. Platforms have democratized access to a vast library of soul samples, making it easier than ever for artists to tap into this genre’s rich heritage.

For example, on the website, all samples are categorized by genre, instrument, mood, and tempo (BPM), making it even easier to find the perfect sample for your project. If you’re looking for soul music samples, you have two great options: You can find your perfect sounds with soul sample packs offering a curated collection to enhance your music production. In another section, you will find single soul samples.

With its intuitive organization and extensive collection of royalty-free samples, empowers producers of all levels to easily find and incorporate the soulful sounds that have defined and continue to inspire hip-hop music. Let the timeless melodies, rich harmonies, and raw emotion of soul music fuel your creativity and elevate your productions.

10 Essential 70s Soul & Soul-Inspired Hip-Hop Albums You Need to Hear
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  1. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971): A groundbreaking concept album that tackled social issues like war, poverty, and drug abuse. Its lush orchestration and Gaye’s emotive vocals set a new standard for soul music.  In 2020, Rolling Stone magazine named “What’s Going On” the greatest album of all time.

  2. Curtis Mayfield—Super Fly (1972): This soundtrack transcended its film origins, becoming a social commentary on Black life in the 1970s. Its gritty funk and Mayfield’s poignant lyrics influenced generations of hip-hop artists.

  3. Aretha Franklin—Young, Gifted and Black (1972): This album showcases the Queen of Soul’s incredible vocal range and emotional depth. It features original songs and covers delivered with Aretha’s signature passion and power.

  4. James Brown – The Payback (1973): This funk powerhouse is a masterclass in rhythmic innovation and raw energy. Its drum breaks and horn riffs have been sampled countless times in hip-hop, becoming the foundation for many classic beats.

  5. Parliament – Mothership Connection (1975): A psychedelic funk odyssey that transported listeners to another dimension. Its Afrofuturist themes and innovative soundscapes continue to inspire artists across genres.

  6. The Sugarhill Gang – Sugarhill Gang (1980): This debut album, featuring the groundbreaking hit “Rapper’s Delight,” is considered the first commercially successful hip-hop record. Its use of a Chic sample (“Good Times”) marked the beginning of hip-hop’s love affair with soul music.

  7. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988): A sonic bomb of political commentary and musical experimentation. Public Enemy’s use of James Brown samples and their confrontational lyrics established them as a force for social change.

  8. De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising (1989): A playful and eclectic album that defied hip-hop conventions. De La Soul’s lighthearted rhymes and their eclectic use of samples, including many from soul records, expanded the boundaries of the genre.

  9. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory (1991): A jazz-infused hip-hop masterpiece that redefined the genre’s sound. Q-Tip and Phife Dawg’s laid-back delivery and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s innovative production, which heavily sampled soul and jazz records, created a unique and enduring sound.

  10. Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993): A raw and gritty debut album that introduced the world to the Wu-Tang Clan’s unique brand of East Coast hip-hop. Their dark, cinematic production style, often incorporating soul samples, became a defining element of their sound.
Is just a guy who got tired of bothering his friends talking about music, and decided to create a blog to write about what he loves the most.
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