The California Love Sample: Everything you need to know about 2Pac’s biggest hit
It’s 1995, 2Pac has just been released from prison and he’s already plotting his return to the rap and hip-hop spotlight.
His single “California Love” would be the track that would not only propel him into infamy, but also catapult him to the level of a timeless icon. “California Love” was released on Death Row Records and was 2Pac’s debut album on the label.
The song features some of Dr. Dre’s most recognizable samples in his record production history. But there are a ton of misconceptions about the samples used, the artists involved in the production, and what went into creating the record in the first place.
So let’s set the record straight and dive into this ageless sample of California Love that millennials just can’t stop listening to, even decades after its original release.
What sample is in California Love?
The main sample that forms the basis of the song “California Love” comes from the song “Woman to Woman” by Joe Crocker.
The sample of Joe Crocker’s original recording is most evident right at the start, where the keys and horns are played in isolation, making for an easy-sampling piece of audio for Dr. Dre when he was in the studio.
Drums are also taken from the original recording, as the track’s signature groove and dusty drum selection can also be heard clearly in the original recording.
“California knows how to party” sample
A popular misconception is that the song’s hook was taken from another record and that Dr. Dre mixed the samples on one record when producing this track.
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But in fact, the song’s hook was sung by Roger Troutman, who used the iconic Talk Box instrument all over the 80s and 90s.
Want to sample your music better? Consult our guides
Don’t be discouraged if you thought the song was sampled from another song. Because you are half right! The line mirrored a song by Ronnie Hudson, who sang the same lyrics on their single. Roger Troutman was just the one who sang the lyrics using his Talk Box, which means there’s “technically” no sampling.
Check out the original for yourself below.
Fun Facts About Tupac Shakur’s “California Love”
We all love the single, but how much behind-the-scenes info do you know? Let’s dive into untold facts and trivia surrounding 2Pac’s most famous song.
He had a famous director.
The song’s music video was directed by Hype Williams and features funk mastermind George Clinton as an evil tribal leader and actor Chris Tucker as an obsequious lackey.
It was rated one of the best music videos of the 90s
In 2006, MTV’s “100 Greatest Rap Music Videos” ranked the music video for “California Love” number one. It also won the 1996 MOBO Award for Best Video in the UK.
Roger Troutman moved…
Roger Troutman was a popular figure in the West Coast hip-hop world. Many of 2Pac’s contemporaries sampled him often, and that wasn’t even the only time 2Pac used Troutman’s skills. Troutman’s “Be Alright” laid the foundation for “Keep Ya Head Up” released in 1993.
… but it all ended too soon
Troutman was killed by his brother in 1999 after an argument.
The real meaning behind “California Love”
In Rolling Stone, Tupac said seven months before he was shot that he didn’t want the song to be about violence, “I want it to be about the money.”