“The cops shot the kid”: Inside the most-sampled hip hop song ever

Written by Nathan Jolly on 20th June, 2018
“The cops shot the kid”: Inside the most-sampled hip hop song ever

Of the four records that Kanye West has released over the past four Fridays, perhaps the best song among the bunch is track two on the Kanye-produced Nas album Nasir.

The song is named ‘Cops Shot The Kid’ due to the rapid-fire four-word sample that permeates the song, firing over and over like a semi-automatic weapon, gunning down any sense of subtly.

It’s quite an achievement, with Nas and Kanye exchanging verses about police brutality. “Tell me, who do we call to report crime, if 911’s doing the drive by?” asks Kanye as the sample whirs in the background. It’s forceful stuff.

The sample is half a line from Slick Rick’s ‘Children’s Story’, a 1988 song that has become the most sampled hip hop song in history. Other songs from the R’n’B canon have been sampled more — a six-second drum beat known as the ‘Amen Break’ from The Winstons’ 1969 song ‘Amen Brother’ has been used over two thousands times; the liberal and legally-dubious use of samples in hip hop means the actual figure is probably twenty times higher  — but in terms of hip hop songs being lovingly plundered to create other pieces of art, no song beats ‘Children’s Story’ for sheer volume.

In 1995 ‘This Is How We Do It’ by Montell Jordan lifted the entire backing track, and turned it into a million-seller, which sat at #1 in the U.S. for seven weeks. Eminem has used it as the bass for a diss trick; his proteges D12 cribbed a line for a chorus.

Of course, as is customary in hip hop, Slick Rick’s backing track is also sampled: from ‘Nautilus’ from the 1974 album, One, by jazz musician Bob James. But, as often as the backing track is sampled, it is snatches of Slick Rick’s vocals that are more often lifted.

Now here’s a lil something that needs to be heard, begins the song, and this certainly proved to be prescient. Thirty years later his one-liners about youth and police brutality still inspire countless creations.

Last year the lyrics were turned into a literal children’s book, a cautionary tale that is sadly still relevant now.

Slick Rick

Below is a list of the songs that have sampled sections of the song:

The House That Cee Built by Big Daddy Kane (1989)

Lyrical Assassin by Legion of Boom (1989)

If the Papes Come by A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

One Time Gaffled Em Up by Compton’s Most Wanted (1990)

Illegal Gunshot by Ragga Twins (1990)

Daddy Rich in the Land of 1210 by 3rd Bass (1991)

Throw Your Hands in the Air by Raw Fusion (1991)

Here We Go Again by Def Jef (1991)

Isn’t He Something by Lord Finesse (1992)

Christmas Is by Run-DMC (1992)

From Jackin’ to Rappin’ by O.F.T.B. (1992)

Sorta Like a Psycho by RBL Posse (1992)

Knock Em Out Da Box by Naughty by Nature (1993)

County Line by Coolio (1994)

Local Hero by Hard 2 Obtain (1994)

Bumpin’ by Dis-n-Dat (1994)

This Is What I Know by Rappin’ 4-Tay (1994)

This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan (1995)

Touched by UGK (1996)

Party 2 Nite (Remix) by Ladae! feat. Chubb Rock (1996)

Brakes by De La Soul (1996)

Drama by Ras Kass feat. Coolio (1996)

Keep It Real (The Villain RMX) by MC Ren (1996)

Hoo-Bangin’ (WSCG Style) by Westside Connection feat. K-Dee, The Comrads and AllFrumTha I (1996)

Plucker by Young Zee (1996)

Anotha Hoe Story by N.O.H. Mafia (1996)

From Ruthless 2 Death Row (Do We All Part) by The D.O.C. (1996)

Just Another Case by Cru feat. Slick Rick (1997)

Pain (Forever) by Puff Daddy feat. G. Dep (1999)

Bad Guys Always Die by Dr. Dre and Eminem (1999)

Bottle Rocket by Swollen Members feat. Everlast, Evidence and Divine Styler (1999)

I Run This by Slick Rick (1999)

So Fresh by Will Smith feat. Biz Markie and Slick Rick (1999)

The Tribute by Nonpoint feat. Grimm (2000)

Skull & Crossbones by Del the Funky Homosapien (2000)

Me and My Nigga by JT the Bigga Figga (2000)

“What It Is (Part II)” by Flipmode Squad featuring Busta Rhymes and Kelis (2001)[9][10]

“Gossip Folks” by Missy Elliott feat. Ludacris (2002)

A Slick Response by Cormega (2002)

Can-I-Bitch by Eminem (2003)

Elevator Music by Ugly Duckling (2004)

Still Grimey by U-God & Sean Price & Prodigal Sunn & C-Rayz Walz (2004)

Bedtime Story by AZ (2005)

Save Me by Mary Mary (2005)

The Emperor’s Soundtrack by Lupe Fiasco (2006)

If I (Original) by Ali Vegas (2006)

In a Mess by Saigon (2007)

Catacomb Kids by Aesop Rock (2007)

So Ruff, So Tuff by Conejo (2007)

Children’s Story by Uncle Murda (2008)

Once Upon a Rhyme (Original Version) by Rakim (2008)

Don’t Ya Dare Laugh by B-Real feat. Xzibit and Young De (2009)

We Will Rob You by Raekwon feat. GZA, Masta Killa and Slick Rick (2009)

Once Upon a Time by La Coka Nostra (2009)

K-Town Story by Dumbfoundead (2009)

Light Up the Night by Black Eyed Peas (2010)

Gimme Da 90s by KRS-One and True Master (2010)

A Southern Story by Bobby Creekwater (2010)

Por Tus Pujidos Nos Hallaron by Akwid (2010)

Self Titled by Reks (2011)

Mind Yuh Business by Problem Child (2012)

Cops Shot the Kid by Nas (2018)

The article was originally published on The Industry Observer