14 American Songs Sampled or Interpolated by Burna Boy

Burna Boy

Burna Boy performs at London Stadium on June 03, 2023 in London.

Burak Cingi/Redferns

A common theme in Burna Boy‘s discography is his expert lifting of R&B, rap and pop records over the years — with a couple of oldies but goodies.

At the 2024 Grammy Awards in February, he performed his Grammy-nominated hit “Sittin’ on Top of the World” with 21 Savage, who’s featured on the remix, and Brandy, whose 26-year-old track “Top of the World” is famously sampled on Burna’s song. The Afro-fusion superstar also notably sampled Toni Braxton‘s hit “He Wasn’t Man Enough” on his 2022 summer smash “Last Last.” Rodney “Darkchild” Jenkins, Fred Jerkins III and LaShawn Daniels all earned credits on “Sittin’ on Top of the World” and “Last Last” since they co-wrote both “Top of the World” and “He Wasn’t Man Enough.”

Naughty by Nature‘s 1999 hit “Jamboree” plays a part in not just one Burna record, but two: The Nigerian singer-songwriter borrowed elements from “Collateral Damage” in 2019 and did it again one year later on “Naughty by Nature,” featuring the titular hip-hop trio. Speaking of doubles, the Sauti Sol-featuring “Time Flies” track from 2020 lifts from Sade‘s 1985 hit “The Sweetest Taboo” and Marc Anthony‘s 2002 track “I Need You.”

And Burna has an affinity for reworking Michael Jackson‘s old works, referencing The Jackson 5‘s “I Want You Back” on his 2011 track “Ice Cream Man” and “Dirty Diana” on the Chris Martin-assisted “Monsters You Made” in 2020.

Billboard rounded up 14 American songs that Burna Boy has sampled or interpolated throughout his discography.

  • Toni Braxton, “He Wasn’t Man Enough”

    “Last Last” from Burna’s 2022 album Love, Damini samples Toni Braxton’s Billboard Hot 100 No. 2 smash “He Wasn’t Man Enough” from her third studio album The Heat, which also won the 2001 Grammy award for best female R&B vocal performance (while The Heat was up for best R&B album). The Nigerian hitmaker performed “Last Last” at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards two days after he released the song, which spent 8 weeks at No. 1 on the U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart and also topped Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay. “Last Last” also reached No. 2 on Rhythmic Airplay and World Digital Song Sales.

  • Jeremih, “Birthday Sex”

    “City Boys” from Burna’s 2023 album I Told Them… samples Jeremih‘s 2009 breakout debut single “Birthday Sex” from his self-titled debut album, which peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100. “Honestly, I only found out that there was a Jeremih sample like two days ago…. I saw it on the internet, it’s from the internet I realized it was a sample…. When I made the song, I didn’t hear [‘Birthday Sex’] at all,” he told Speedy Morman in an interview last August. “City Boys” was one of the first songs to earn a nod in the new best African music performance category at the Grammys this year, where Burna was up for three more nods.

  • Brandy feat. Mase, “Top of the World”

    “Sittin’ on Top of the World” from Burna’s I Told Them… samples Brandy’s 1998 track “Top of the World,” featuring Mase, from her sophomore album Never Say Never, which was nominated for best R&B album at the 1999 Grammy Awards. The 21 Savage remix of “Sittin’ on Top of the World” earned a Grammy nomination this year for best melodic rap performance, and Burna brought out 21 and Brandy to perform his smash at the awards show, becoming the first Afrobeats artist to do so. The song peaked at No. 80 on the Hot 100 and reached No. 2 on Rhythmic Airplay.

  • Fred Wesley and The Horny Horns feat. Maceo Parker, “Four Play”

    “Ye” from Burna’s 2018 album Outside samples Fred Wesley and The Horny Horns’ 1977 track “Four Play,” featuring Maceo Parker, from their A Blow For Me, a Toot to You album. The kicking drum pattern from “Four Play” underlines Burna’s memorable anthem, which reached No. 12 on U.S. Afrobeats Songs and No. 26 on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay.

  • Michael Jackson, “Dirty Diana”

    “Monsters You Made,” featuring Chris Martin, from Burna’s 2020 Grammy-winning album Twice as Tall samples Michael Jackson’s Hot 100 No. 1 hit single “Dirty Diana” from his 1987 seventh album Bad. Burna’s record lifts the backing track’s melody, heard on the verse to both songs. The Afro-fusion superstar and Coldplay frontman performed “Monsters You Made” together at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards.

  • Fabolous feat. Tamia, “Into You”

    “Giddem,” from Burna’s Outside, samples Fabolous‘ 2003 Hot 100 No. 4 hit “Into You,” featuring Tamia, who originally released “So Into You” in 1998 from her self-titled debut album, which samples The Commodores’ 1978 track “Say Yeah.”

  • Pat Boone, “Twice as Tall”

    “Level Up (Twice as Tall),” featuring Youssou N’Dour, from Burna’s Twice as Tall, samples Pat Boone‘s 1997 track “Twice as Tall” from the Journey to the Center of the Earth soundtrack. “Oh, I’d have to be twice as tall at least/ To feel better than I do/ Yes, I’d have to be twice as tall at least/ I mean me multiplied by two (By two),” Boone sings at the start of “Level Up.”

  • Minnie Riperton, “Lovin’ You”

    “Mary Jane,” from Burna’s 2016 EP Redemption, samples Minnie Riperton’s Hot 100 No. 1 smash “Lovin’ You” from her 1974 sophomore album Perfect Angel. The “Lovin’ you is easy ’cause you’re beautiful” and “And everything that I do is out of lovin’ you” from Riperton’s first verse and “La la la la la, la la la la la” chorus is softly playing throughout “Mary Jane.”

  • The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back”

    “Ice Cream Man” from Burna’s 2011 compilation album Best of Burn Series, Vol. 1 interpolates The Jackson 5’s 1969 Hot 100 chart-topping first single “I Want You Back” from the group’s debut album Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5. The synth chord progression of “Ice Cream Man” mimics the hook of “I Want You Back.”

  • Naughty by Nature, “Jamboree”

    “Naughty by Nature,” featuring Naughty by Nature, from Burna’s Twice as Tall interpolates Naughty by Nature’s Hot 100 top 10 hit “Jamboree,” featuring Zhané, from the group’s 1999 fifth album Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature’s Fury. “That’s the whole point of why I wanted them on the song. It just had to be done. I got their verses on my birthday, and it came with a video of them saying happy birthday and showing love,” Burna told me during our “The Explosion of Afro-Fusion” panel at Billboard‘s MusicCon in May 2022.

    “Collateral Damage,” from Burna’s 2019 album African Giant also lifts from “Jamboree.” While Burna’s “Naughty by Nature” bore a lot of similarities to “Jamboree,” from its buoyant melody to “jam(boree) for me” chorus line, “Collateral Damage” borrows the groovy guitar line from Naughty by Nature’s anthem.

  • Enchantment, “Gloria”

    “Glory,” featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo, from Burna’s Love, Damini samples Enchantment’s 1976 Hot 100 No. 25 hit “Gloria” from the group’s eponymous debut album. The titular “Gloria” line can be heard at the beginning of Burna’s first verse on “Glory,” and he sings the refrain — “Hold me, ah, this is my story, yes/ Glory, yeah/ Like the last time that you ever seen me, hold me, ah” — in the same style of the opening lines from “Gloria”: “Gloria/ My Gloria/ Things ain’t been the same/ Since you went away/ Gloria/ My Gloria/ I don’t want to see/ Another day.”

  • Sade, “The Sweetest Taboo”

    “Time Flies,” featuring Sauti Sol, from Burna’s Twice As Tall borrows some elements from Sade’s Hot 100 No. 5 single “The Sweetest Taboo” from the band’s 1985 sophomore album Promise. The groovy drum sequence from Sade’s classic can be heard throughout “Time Flies.”

  • Marc Anthony, “I Need You”

    “Time Flies” also interpolates Marc Anthony’s “I Need You,” from his 2002 sixth overall and second English album Mended. Burna sings the chorus — “Let’s take a ride/ Look in your eyes/ No make ‘em tell you lies/ I’m on your side” — in the same style as the hook from “I Need You”: “Oh baby I need you/ For the rest of my life girl I need you/ To make everything right girl/ I love you/ And I’ll never deny that I need you.”

  • T-Pain, “I’m Sprung”

    “Real Life,” featuring Stormzy, from Burna’s Twice As Tall references T-Pain‘s 2005 breakout debut single “I’m Sprung,” from his debut album Rappa Ternt Sanga, which peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100. The “You do (you do)” bridge of “I’m Sprung” can be heard re-sung throughout “Real Life,” which also loosely borrows the overall melody from T-Pain’s classic.



African Music, afrofusion, samples

Read also