20 of Hip-Hop’s Best Aretha Franklin References
There is no denying Aretha Franklin place in music history. She's a cemented legend, who took her Southern and Midwestern gospel roots and turned them into some of the world’s most celebrated songs and albums. With a coveted NAACP Hall of Fame induction and a whopping 18 Grammy awards, Aretha is the eternal Queen of Soul.
Sadly though, the music industry and culture as a whole suffered a loss today as Franklin passed away at the age of 76 after a long battle with cancer. With songs like “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Think,” Franklin blissfully encompassed the coming-of-age Black woman in American experience in the 1960s and 1970s.
Her influence reaches far beyond those decades, though. Aretha Franklin's soulful, righteous R&B legacy has touched every corner of American music—especially hip-hop, which has repeatedly built classic songs around her rhythm, melody and incomparable soprano. The warm vocal chop that serves as the hook of Mos Def's "Ms. Fat Booty" is all Aretha, as is principle sample of Kanye West's "School Spirit," which sounds heavenly even when pitched all the way up.
Outside of sonics, rappers have been celebrating Aretha Franklin by incorporating her name and likeness in their lyrics, from demanding "respect" to playing off of her last name—also shorthand for $100 bills, word to Benjamin. Yet no matter which way you slice it, hip-hop has acknowledged the greatness or Mrs. Aretha Franklin and will likely continue to do so.
In honor of Aretha Franklin’s legendary career and influence, XXL rounds up 20 of hip-hop's best references to the Queen of Soul.
"Then we lounge in a Spanish-style house/'Til it all blows over, Dolce Gabbana out/Contemplating, there is no bond with Satan/Say a little prayer for me like Aretha Franklin/For my hustlers, here's some motivation/He who has begun is half done, why you waiting?" —Nas
"I already know I’m realer, and you don’t even know the difference/All my shit original and I don’t ever need a witness/When I’m talking money, you say what you say, cause you can’t comprehend it/Listening to Aretha Franklin, countin' some Benjamins" —Rico Nasty
"And like Aretha Franklin, your moms is jumping to it/So, so, so, where did you go, what do you know" —Red Hot Lover Tone
"My chevy sittin’ too high/I call that Wiz Khalifa/And I’m all about the new Franklins/Ain't talkin’ Aretha/Bitch my league too major/I’m hip-hop Derek Jeter" —Ace Hood
"Papoose wrote a Ether record/But I broke Aretha record/See this is chess, not checkers/You can not check the checkers/Did Nas clear that 'Ether' record?/Nah, but I broke Aretha record" —Nicki Minaj
"Carlito for a hundred, gave 'bout 50 to my mama!/I'm an OG in my hood, no Aretha, well respected/Toucan Sam pigeons, call me Ace Ventura, Pet Detective" —Takeoff
"Somebody get this nigga help! I mean, like, Soul, assist him/Get him help, I'm sendin' this nigga out the solar system/I mean, it's simple, Aretha Franklin; you a Soul, sister" —Daylyt
"Sticks, choppas, handguns, all of em loaded I swear/Aretha Franklin, East Atlanta, nigga I’ll take you there" —Rich Homie Quan
"So much love for me, I never get robbed in my life/Aretha Franklin, respect it, respect/So in tune, I forgot how to stress/So in tune like the choir that's blessed" —Big Sean
"Practicing this verse up in the mirror like I'm Issa/I'm frank like Aretha, I'm dank like your reefer" —Aminé
"That OutKast, that Southernplayalisticadillac/It's that Jimi Hendrix, that George Clinton/I feel it in my bones/Aretha Franklin, that Shirley Caesar" —Killer Mike
"See I deceive ya with my intergalactic ether/I sing just like Aretha, so respect me like I'm Caesar" —B.o.B.
"Dip my blunts in ether, chase the last name of Aretha/When they hear me through the speakers" —Da$h
"Early Sunday morning, on fire getting higher/To the sounds of the Georgia mass choir/And I swear to god you ain't ever really smoked reefer till you do it to to the sound of Aretha coming loud out your speaker" —Logic
"Cause young girl dreams/Shoutout my G'ma/Cause she made me a young believer/This day is beautiful/They respect us, play Aretha/I told my momma, I'mma take her where palm trees at" —Casey Veggies
"But she don't wanna' do either/She just want respect/She just wanna be Aretha/But she don't know how to get Franklins the legal way/She doesn't believe that she can/And that's when I say" —Russ
"If you see a chick she down to ride like she wanna veer/Better yet the Queen of Sheba, Aretha, Queen Latifah
I'm the boss like Aneisha Reefa" —Talib Kweli
"Respect me like Aretha Franklin/Respect the fact that I got Benjamin Franklins/Living out the bando, trap out the vacant/Doctor Offset, I got a lot of patients" —Offset
"Knowing I let you in, I know this isn't real but in the back of mind/ I'm thinking deeper got me hitting notes that I ain't even get hit by the Aretha/Hit her then you leave her now her mindset is broken guess it feels good when my eyes ain't open" —Tink
"One verse could turn your soul to ether/It's time you gave me my respects just like the old Aretha" —Method Man