Cos and Effect: The Bill Cosby Hip-Hop Samples

MC Bill Cosby
MC Bill Cosby

This Saturday, September 7th at the Westchester County Center, comedy legend Bill Cosby will be performing his time-tested classic brand of stand-up. From the stage to the television to on record, The Cos has touched several generations with his many comedic gifts. His impact is clear even on the hip-hop generation, who've expressed their admiration through incorporating snippets of his work into their songs. In honor of Mr. Cosby returning to the area, here are our picks for the most memorable Bill Cosby hip-hop samples.

See also: A Very Long Conversation with Comedian Reggie Watts About Williamsburg, Touring with Conan, and Brian Eno Birthday Parties That Is Totally Worth the Read

Boogie Down Productions - "Illegal Business"1988

The first wave of hip-hop pioneers were likely to have grown up on Cosby's

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids

cartoon. As a result, the show's rich score and distinct vocal performances have found their way into some of the most memorable cuts of the era. On Boogie Down Production's second album

By All Means Necessary

, "Illegal Business" was created largely around

a few seconds from an episode of Fat Albert.

MC/Producer El-P considers this

one of his all-time favorite samples.
De La Soul - "In The Woods"1993

The most used sample from a Bill Cosby recording is probably his take on Lee Dorsey's "Get Out My Life Now Woman" from his 1968

Bill Cosby Sings Hooray For the Salvation Army Band

album. A song whose many incarnations have lead to the drums being prime collectors' pieces for producers, DJs and record enthusiasts alike, Cosby's rendition has been heard in tracks from De La Soul, Cypress Hill, Gang Starr, and Chubb Rock.

Quasimoto - "Real Eyes"2000

Perhaps the most ambitious use of sampling Cosby was heard in Quasimoto's "Real Eyes." Here, producer Madlib augments an already sample heavy soundscape with several clips from the 1971

Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs

Upcoming Events

album. It's a testament to Madlib's abilities how so many rapidfire quick cuts of Cosby's dialogue can make an effective introduction for the track.

See also: Hip-Hop's 25 Best Weed Songs


Atmosphere - "Panic Attack"2005


Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs

album was also utilized a few times in Atmosphere's 2005 track "Panic Attack." It's worth noting how just a little sprinkling of that Cosby magic can really bring a record to life, so much so that compilations of untouched Cosby/"Fat Albert" samples have been in circulation for years. There was even an early 2000s trend of

repeating dialogue from the show

over parts of promotion copies to prevent piracy.

Studged - "Dr. Dre Ft. Cosby"2006

One of the most memorable creations of the YTMND era was Studged's bafflingly on-point edit

"Dr. Dre Ft. Cosby."

While that summer had seen several users make attempts at re-appropriating clips of Dan Castellaneta's Cosby impression from

The Simpsons

and Kevin Michael Richardson's impression from

Family Guy

into full songs, including the impressive

"Cosby Bebop,"

our favorite has to be the way Studged manipulates the clips into actually mimicking the flow of Dr. Dre's "What's the Difference" over the instrumental. While, no, there's no actual clips of Cosby being heard here, we wouldn't have been able to zip-zop with our zoobity-bop without mentioning it.

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