As is the case with many artists that inspire, Prince's extensive catalogue has been referenced and repurposed by many artists. The most direct and straightforward homages often come in the form of samples and interpolations, techniques that allow modern acts to borrow musical and lyrical elements from the icon's oeuvre.
WhoSampled lists Prince as the 75th most sampled artist of all time, surrounded by peers such as Diana Ross and Queen. Whilst he's not as heavily recognised as hip hop legends such as James Brown and The Isley Brothers, Prince has commanded respect and admiration from some of contemporary musics biggest names. Below are - in no particular order - five of my favourite Prince samples and interpolations.
DJ Quik - "Safe + Sound"
Though DJ Quik may have since faded into obscurity, the West Coast emcee enjoyed critical and commercial success through the '90s. Quik is famous for his longstanding beef with MC Eiht, a member of Compton's Most Wanted. Though not as famous as the feud between Nas and JAY-Z, Quik and Eiht's fifteen year dispute is amongst the most legendary in hip hop history.
Quik, who produced much of his own work, sampled Prince on the title track to 1995's Safe + Sound. The sample in question is taken from Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover," the first single from his acclaimed sophomore album. That track was Prince's first triumph as a mainstream hitmaker, kickstarting a career that would flourish for the decades to come.
The Prince sample imbued Quik's track with a recognisable G-Funk feel, one that helps the song build to the almost cartoonishly smooth West Coast outro. Quik would go on to produce 2Pac's "Heartz Of Men," a Prince-sampling cut off his acclaimed 1996 album, All Eyez On Me.
Beyonce & JAY-Z - "'03 Bonnie and Clyde"
Beyonce's 2003 debut, Dangerously In Love, is best remembered for the decade-dominated smash hit "Crazy In Love." Whilst that track would come to define Beyonce and JAY-Z's musical relationship, their preceding collaboration, JAY-Z's "'03 Bonnie and Clyde," was a hit in its own right.
The first single from JAY's The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse, the track was produced by a then up-and-coming Kanye West, two years before he released his debut album.
Both Tupac and Prince are credited as songwriters by way of samples. Beyonce interpolates a lyric from Princes' 1987 single, "If I Was Your Girlfriend." Taken from his acclaimed double album, Sign o The Times, it features Prince's sped up, high pitched vocals, a hallmark of his alter ego, Camille.
The line that Beyoncé borrows is "sometimes I trip on how happy we could be," which can be heard at 2:15 in Prince's studio version.
Salt N Pepa - "Push It"
A more indirect interpolation of Prince's work appears in Salt N Pepa's classic hit, "Push It." Whilst the track makes reference to a track by Morris Day and The Time, Prince wrote all the tracks for the group's third album, Ice Cream Castle. Morris Day, who also appeared as the antagonist in Purple Rain, was a member of Prince's high school band.
The brief spoken interlude, performed by producer Hurby Luv Bug, takes more than just a cue from Morris Day.
"Now wait a minute, y'all; this dance ain't for everybody, only the sexy people," jokes Hurby, parroting the words Day used in The Time's 1984 hit, "The Bird." Whilst Salt N Pepa's track emulates the live performance, "The Bird" was actually recorded live at Minneapolis' First Avenue.
"The Bird" became one of the group's biggest hits, helped along by a feature in Prince's legendary 1984 film, Purple Rain.
Justice - "Genesis"
Perhaps the most insidious and unrecognisable sample in this piece, Justice's use of Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover" is a powerful example of their production prowess.
The harsh guitar that enters at 2:17, manipulated as to sound more electronic, is lifted from the very first note of Prince's 1979 hit. Though the sample seems obvious once identified, it's a startlingly non-specific sound clearly identified by the astute French duo. This practice, common in Justice's work, is referred to as microsampling.
The Tupac track samples a swathe of sources, crediting George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Prince, Bernie Worrell and Richard Pryor as writers. The crux of the track - and the first sound you hear at the open - are vocals lifted from the close of "Darling Nikki," a sexually-charged cut perhaps best remembered for the provocative stage performance featured in the film.
The last album released during his lifetime, Tupac's All Eyez On Me would become an integral part of the rapper's mythical reverence. Regrettably, it now shares its name with a critically panned 2017 biopic.