How "Shape of My Heart" Has Soundtracked Sad Rap for Two Decades
From Nas to Juice WRLD.
Juice WRLD‘s “Lucid Dreams” is currently the fastest rising song in rap. The Nick Mira-produced track is actually a year old – first released back in June 2017. On May 10th this year, he released its official Cole Bennett-directed music video via Lyrical Lemonade, and a week later, it debuted at number 74 on the Billboard Hot 100. Now, five weeks later, it sits at No. 5 on the Hot 100 chart and No. 3 on Spotify’s Global Top 50, cementing Juice WRLD as the hottest up-and-comer in music.
On top of its catchy melody, the instrumental contains one of rap music’s most recognizable samples: the iconic guitar riff from Sting‘s 1993 song “Shape of My Heart,” which was co-written by his longstanding guitarist Dominic Miller. The track was used for the end credits of the Luc Besson’s 1994 French thriller Léon: The Professional with Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman. The film — which deals with themes of loneliness, love, heartbreak and murder — pairs particularly well with the song’s somber tone.
The backing track of “Shape of My Heart” has been sampled by many artists, particular rappers and R&B singers; first used in 1996 by Nas in his It Was Written single “The Message.” Since then, musicians from all over the globe, including the likes of Craig David, Trick Daddy, Pastor Troy, Craig David, The Roots and many more, have borrowed the track’s emblematic riff as well. Most recently, Tory Lanez sampled the track in his 2018 Memories Don’t Die track “Pieces.”
Most of the songs that sample “Shape of My Heart” are melancholic and reflective. For example, “Living in a World” found Trick Daddy addressing the cold world and the shortness of life, while Lil Zane is “fighting off demons” in “The Ways of the World.” Black Thought, meanwhile, speaks about cutting a cheating girl out of his life in “Break You Off.” Tory Lanez tells a twisted story about a rape victim and her fatherless cousin in “Pieces,” while “Lucid Dreams” – which is by far the highest-charting song to have used this sample – touches on the conflicting thoughts and emotions Juice WRLD feels about his ex. Music has evolved over the last 20 years but the “Shape of My Heart” riff continues to touch listeners even in different contexts.
Below are ten of the most notable songs that sample Sting’s ”Shape of My Heart.”