After exhausting the James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes archives, rap producers have found an unlikely new source for their samples: indie music. Whether it's Jay-Z biting from little-known soul revival outfits like the Menahan Street Band or Lupe Fiasco gettin' busy over Radiohead, indie rock is showing up on more hip-hop and R&B hits than Lil Wayne. Since Kanye West took this meme mainstream with his electro-rap classic 'Stronger' -- the only way Yeezy's indie cred could improve is if Daft Punk really were playing at his house -- let's look at some other hipster-hop bangers.
'Show Me What You Got,' Busta Rhymes
Samples 'Come Play in the Milky Night,' by Stereolab
Busta Rhymes can rap over pretty much anything, so a trunk-rattling beat from the late, lamented J Dilla, featuring a moody sample from British post-rockers Stereolab is a no-brainer. Released on his 1998 album 'Anarchy,' Bussa-bus' boasts don't exactly suit the tune's moonlit vibe, but the novelty value makes it worthwhile as no one in Stereolab drops rhymes like "Nowadays, the type of dough that we gross/Celebrate and throw me a roast/And get a known face for a host."
Indie Cred Boost: Big. Most rappers haven't even heard of Stereolab. Busta FTW.
'Swagga Like Us,' T.I. Feat. Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z
Samples 'Paper Planes,' by M.I.A.
You'd never know it to hear him rap about selling bricks by the oh-zee, but Jay-Z is a big indie fan. After he and producer Kanye West bit M.I.A.'s boast for this single, due to appear on both T.I.'s 'Paper Trail' and his own 'The Blueprint 3,' the Jiggaman nixed it from 'BP3' because it had Auto-Tune on it, and he was on to the next one.
Indie Cred Boost: Medium. M.I.A. is hotter than July, but she's signed to Interscope in the US, making her labelmates with the Pussycat Dolls. That's not gonna help.
'Well It's Time,' Twista
Samples 'Gatekeeper,' by Feist
Hip-hop fans probably didn't bat an eye at the sweet, feminine voice in the intro to 'Well It's Time,' a bonus track on the Chicago fast-rapper's 'Adrenaline Rush 2007' disc. Indie fans, on the other hand, batted their eyes so hard they probably blinded themselves when they realized it was Feist's 'Gatekeeper.' You did it again, Yeezy!
Indie Cred Boost: Medium. Like M.I.A., Feist is signed to Interscope in the US. On the other hand, Twista's indie cred is nonexistent -- actually, Twista's everything cred is nonexistent -- and every little bit helps.
'Money Back Guarantee,' Pigeon John
Samples 'Hey,' by Pixies
Before you scream blasphemy at the thought of someone defiling your precious Pixies, consider California indie rapper Pigeon John contributions to indiedom. He's on DJ Shadow's Quannum Projects, he's a skateboarder, and the spoken-word intro from 'Hey' he samples features a friend trying to dissuade another from chasing a honey: "You go over there, you're gonna get hurt." "Dude, I wanna get hurt!" What could be more indie-rock than that?
Indie Cred Boost: Big. Repurposing a classic like 'Hey' is worth its weight in Pixies. And with all due respect, if you've seen Frank Black or Kim Deal lately, that's a lot.
'Ghosts,' Charles Hamilton
Samples 'Tom's Diner,' by DNA Feat. Suzanne Vega
Fun fact: Both songs began as unofficial bootlegs. British techno duo DNA's grafting of folkie Suzanne Vega's then-three-year-old a cappella 'Tom's Diner' onto Soul II Soul's 'Back to Life' was a white-label circulating UK clubs in 1990; rather than suing DNA, the record label released it. Meanwhile, blog-buzzy rapper Charles Hamilton's never-released major-label debut, 'This Perfect Life,' was leaked online after Interscope dropped him, and included the hypnotic, 'Diner'-sampling 'Ghost.'
Indie Cred Coost: None, but if whoever leaked Hamilton's album had known about said fun fact, it would be kinda cool.
'Young Folks,' Kanye West,
Samples 'Young Folks,' by Peter, Bjorn & John
If there's a song less likely to be used by a rapper to put the editor of Rolling Stone on blast for misquoting him in an interview, it's Peter, Bjorn & John's chirpy, funky 'Young Folks.' It even features whistling as the hook. Lord knows how Kanye chose it -- is he subtly poking fun at Rolling Stone for knowing more about rock than rap? -- but either way, the biggest mouth in hip-hop claimed another indie tune as his own.
Indie Cred Boost: Big. Name-dropping them in an interview would be one thing, but sampling them was a huge wink at indie lovers worldwide.
'Got Urself a Gun,' Nas
Samples 'Woke Up This Morning,' by Alabama 3
Rappers everywhere were kicking themselves when Nas came out with 'Got Urself a Gun,' a storming piano-led track that made even better use of a choir than the original song by UK dance-rockers Alabama 3, famous for being the theme to bloody HBO Mafia drama 'The Sopranos.' Sadly, the show didn't adopt the Nas version midway through the show's run. Was he too gully for TV?
Indie Cred Boost: None. Gangster cred boost? Priceless.
'Shakey Dog Starring Lolita,' Ghostface Killah
Samples 'Musings to Myself,' by El Michels Affair
Now that a handful of contemporary R&B bands are picking up on the vogue for that silky, authentic '70s sound, rap producers like LV and Sean C are using their tracks as samples. El Michels Affair returned the favour to Ghost and the whole Wu-Tang Clan with 'Enter The 37th Chamber,' an album-length tribute to the Wu's spooky soul.
Indie Cred Boost: Irrelevant, son -- Ghostface has more credibility than you've had hot dinners.
'The National Anthem,' Lupe Fiasco
Samples 'The National Anthem,' by Radiohead
The only shocking thing about Lupe Fiasco kicking fast rhymes over Radiohead's funkiest-ever track is that it took nearly a decade for somebody to think of it. Putting it on a mixtape called 'Enemy of the State: A Love Story' was especially appropriate.
Indie Cred Boost: Big. The beats on the Chicago hipster-rapper's albums have been kinda limp, so hearing him go in over something truly funky was worth more than the price of admission. Way more, in fact -- it was a free download.
'I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman,' k-os
Samples 'California,' by Phantom Planet
Let us pause for a moment and pour out a little liquor for Seth Cohen, the charming nebbish on 'The O.C.' who made it safe to be a comic book-loving indie fan, at least for a little while. Toronto rapper k-os completes the circle, with producer Rich Kidd sampling Phantom Planet's 'The O.C.' theme song for his ode to the Harvard-educated star of 'Garden State.' Sigh.
Indie Cred Boost: Medium. Shouting out 'The O.C.' plus Natalie Portman is A+++ work, but when you've been on a Broken Social Scene record, how much more indie cred can you have?MBT Kimondo