A Brief History of Rappers Sampling Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles”

Torry Threadcraft Torry Threadcraft is a contributing writer at Okayplayer where he…
Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles"
Photo Credit: Interscope Records

Vanessa Carlton’s 2002 hit single has become a favorite for rappers and producers alike. Here is a brief history of rappers sampling the song made famous by White Chicks.

On Sunday (March 28th) the video for “Who I Smoke” by Florida rappers Yungeen Ace, Spinabenz, Whoppa Wit Da Choppa, and FastMoney Goon went viral on social media. The video is hilariously chaotic — four dreadlocked MCs bedecked in their finest PGA Tour attire, smoking cigars, driving around a golf course, dissing their enemies over a sample of Vanessa Carlton’s 2002 hit “A Thousand Miles.”

Released as the first song from Carlton’s debut album, Be Not Nobody, “A Thousand Miles” became a smash hit, peaking at no. 5 on Billboard Hot 100, in 2002. “A Thousand Miles” would get a huge second life when, in 2004, the song was featured prominently throughout White Chicks. But Carlton would never have another hit like this again and by the mid-2000s she had signed a deal with rap label The Ink (formerly Murder Ink.) As you can imagine, that didn’t go very well.

But over the years “A Thousand Miles” has become a rap favorite. And “Who I Smoke” isn’t the first time a rapper has embraced the song. People have mashed up the song with tracks from Waka Flocka Flame. And the early Vine days, Soulja Boy sang the hook — admitting he didn’t know any other lyrics to the song.

In honor of the latest viral moment, we’ve rounded up the times rappers have flipped the single. Here’s a brief history of rappers sampling Vanessa Carlton’s pop hit.

T.I. —  “At It All Night” (2009)

In May 2009 — before starting his a year and a day sentence for federal weapons charges — T.I. released the A Year and a Day mixtape with DJ MLK, which featured a pretty forgettable track with the sample we all know and love.

 Charles Hamilton — “He Grabs Her and Runs to the Isle of Sheet Music” (2010)

For his 2010 project Sonic the Hamilton 2: The Scroll of Beethoven and Machiavelli, Harlem MC — and early blog favorite — Charles Hamilton makes the sample a bit less recognizable than most of the other entries here.

Xavier Wulf — “Help Yo Self” (2016)

Ex- Raider Klan remember Xavier Wulf put a chopped and screwed flip of the track in 2016.

Cam’ron — “10,000 Miles” (2017)

Seven years after Charles Hamilton did it, fellow Harlem MC Cam’Ron remixed the song to tell an all-too-familiar story about infidelity, jealousy, and the usual slick talk from the Dipset general. Vanessa Carlton heard this song and confirmed she was a fan. She told The Fader:

“I thought,’ wow, this totally works!’ ‘A Thousand Miles’ is hard to sample. People would usually only use the piano interlude part but he uses the verse and chorus piano sections too. That’s one of the reasons it works so well. Also it’s a dark tale. And that juxtaposition with the seemingly light and pretty piano thing totally works.”

Rico Nasty — “Brandon” (2017)

Rico Nasty has never been one to veer outside the lines of typical rap production to get her point across. For her 2017 project Tales of TacoBella, the Maryland MC goes in a different direction, interpolating Vanessa Carlton to pay tribute to her childhood friend, boyfriend, and the father of her son.

Sexyy Reds — Ah Thousand Jugs (2018)

St. Louis MC Sexyy Reds took to the streets with an assault rifle (and a random white guy) for her 2018 single “Ah Thousand Jugs.” The track went viral upon its release, but the video is stalled around 100,000 views. You can find the track on Apple Music and Spotify.

Skinbone — 100 Miles (A Thousand Miles Remix) (2018)

Chicago MC SkinBone released his version of “1000 Miles” just six days after Sexyy Reds. He leans even harder into the comedic aura of it all, with ridiculous ad-libs and sound effects, racking up over 12 million YouTube views in the process.

Kooda B — “Walking Through the Ville” (2018)

Former Tekashi 6ix9ine affiliate Kooda B followed Sexyy Reds and SkinBone, dropping his cover of “A Thousand Miles” in August 2018.

 

 

OT Genasis — “Tonight” (2020)

OT Genasis is no stranger to a humorous cover. In early 2020, he donned a blue bandana, a leather Balmain jacket and pretended to play a baby grande piano for his cover of “A Thousand Miles.”

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