Bam Bam!: 12 Times Hip-Hop Sampled, Remixed + Flipped Sister Nancy

Words by Jesse Serwer and Richard โ€œTreatsโ€ Dryden bam-bam-sister-nancy

โ€œFamousโ€ is easily the most talked about track on Kanye Westโ€™s newly-released, The Life of Pablo, thanks, for the most part, to its lines about Taylor Swift. The track, which features guest vocals from Swizz Beatz and Rihanna and production from a committee that includes Havoc of Mobb Deep, caught our attention for a different reason, though: It prominently features a sample from Sister Nancyโ€™s โ€œBam Bam,โ€ easily one of the most recognizable dancehall songs worldwide.

โ€œFamousโ€ is hardly the first rap song to jack โ€œBam Bam.โ€ The track, originally released in 1982 on producer and Techniques Records founder Winston Rileyโ€™s Stalag riddim, has permeated hip-hop for over two decades, turning up in samples, song lyrics, and even movies, and a few R&B songs, too. Amazingly, the ethereal song was not a hit for Nancy when it was released. In a unique and unusual twist, it’s celebrated far more now than it was in the era it conjures, Nancy’s ethereal vocals and Riley’s dark, haunting riddim having grown more resonant over time.

Naturally, โ€œBam Bamโ€ (and Nancy herself) features on Corey Chase and DJ Gravyโ€™s recent LargeUp-presented mixtape, Double Barrel, highlighting reggae samples in hip-hop. But where we only had room to show you one track โ€” Main Source’s โ€œJust Hanging Outโ€ โ€” that borrowed from โ€œBam Bam,โ€ there’s many, many more.

Hereโ€™s a look at 12 of the most notable times hip-hop has sampled, remixed, borrowed and otherwise paid homage to Nancyโ€™s ethereal dancehall classic.

Start the list here, and watch our webisode with Sister Nancy below.

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