“Simply Beautiful” (from I’m Still in Love With You), on Talib Kweli’s “Good to You”
Kanye West, at the zenith of his chipmunk-soul-era peak, carves up one of Green’s most simple but effective ballads. Over the sped-up sample, Kweli shows why he effectively owned the underground during the first few years of the decade.
“The Letter” (from Green Is Blues), on Capone-N-Noreaga’s “L.A., L.A.”
A response to Tha Dogg Pound’s “New York,” Capone-N-Noreaga and their Queens brethren Mobb Deep snuff Marley Marl’s beat. Along the way, one of Green’s most plaintive instrumentals becomes even colder and more desperate.
“The Letter,” on Notorious B.I.G.’s “Long Kiss Goodnight”
In the penultimate track on the second disc of B.I.G.’s classic Life After Death, Christopher Wallace and Puffy tacitly imply they were behind 2Pac’s killing — at least if you believe Chuck Philips’ 2002 L.A. Times piece. Either way, the haunting track remains one of the finest subliminal salvos ever.
“Gotta Find a New World” (from Green Is Blues), on Ghostface Killah’s “Iron Maiden”
For the jump-off on the now-canonized Ironman, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA swipes the plangent crash of Green’s brass section, allowing colleagues Ghostface, Raekwon and Cappadonna space to weave their complex criminology raps.
“Here I Am” (from Call Me), on Cappadonna’s “Slang Editorial”
RZA disciple True Master laces Wu-Tang 10th man Cappadonna with a fat slab of bronze horns and dirt-caked drums. Easily one of the most seminal tracks ever released by a Clan affiliate.
“You Ought to Be With Me” (from Call Me), on Ghostface Killah’s “260”
Looping the tense, paranoid first 10 seconds of “You Ought to Be With Me,” RZA again turned to Willie Mitchell’s production to soundtrack Ghostface and Raekwon’s botched and brutal cocaine heist.
“I Wish You Were Here” (from Al Green Is Love), on Nas’ “Shootouts”
Before they started sampling bad bar mitzvah records, the Trackmasters once had the good sense to steal the elegiac piano line from “I Wish You Were Here” to help paint Nas’ crime scenes blood-red.