How Carlos Santana Reacted When Rihanna Sampled 1 of His No. 1 Hits

Rihanna’s hits have incorporated samples from numerous artists, from Michael Jackson to Avril Lavigne. One of her more recent hits sampled a popular rock song by Santana, Carlos Santana’s band. Some of the musicians behind the original track had some issues with Rihanna’s hit. Here’s how the public reacted to the original song and the Rihanna track derived from it.

Rihanna wearing bracelets
Rihanna | Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

A comeback for a classic rock band

First, a little background. Carlos Santana’s band, Santana, had a comeback with their album Supernatural in the late 1990s. The album included collaborations with many other artists like Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, and CeeLo Green. In addition, the band collaborated with a lesser-known R&B group called The Product G&B. The result was a song called “Maria Maria.”

“Maria Maria” is about a woman named Maria, whom The Product G&B compare to the character of the same name from West Side Story. West Side Story is a provocative musical exploring gang violence and racism in New York City. The title character of Santana’s “Maria Maria” is also dealing with NYC gang violence and the song is about the hope for a better life. Rihanna took the song in a much different direction.

“Maria Maria”

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How the some of the artists behind Santana’s ‘Maria Maria’ reacted to Rihanna’s ‘Wild Thoughts’

Many great EDM songs are based on samples and Rihanna’s “Wild Thoughts” is no exception. The track — a collaboration with DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller — uses a guitar riff from “Maria Maria” but little else. Whereas the themes of “Maria Maria” are weighty, “Wild Thoughts” is just about sex. 

According to Billboard, The Product G&B took issue with how “Wild Thought” does not reference the social themes of “Maria Maria” at all. This is interesting given that Rihanna released “Wild Thoughts” at a time when social themes are constantly worked into pop culture. However, The Product G&B said they still liked that Rihanna reimagined their song. “It now is bringing other kids, who had never even heard ‘Maria,’ to be like, ‘what’s that?’ They think that ‘Maria’ is the remix now!”

Rihanna wearing dark lipstick
Rihanna | ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

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According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Carlos Santana himself had more positive things to say about “Wild Thoughts.” “‘Maria Maria’ was and will always be that feel-good summer song that speaks to women, and ‘Wild Thoughts’ is an extension of that summer song vibe that is timeless,” said Santana. “I am honored that DJ Khaled, Rihanna & Bryson felt the intense intentionality of ‘Maria Maria’ and have shared this summer vibe with the world.”

How the public reacted to ‘Maria Maria’ and ‘Wild Thoughts’

“Maria Maria” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was a triumph for Santana, a rock band that began decades prior. “Maria Maria” and another one of their hits from Supernatural, “Smooth,” showed they still knew how to resonate with the public. Years, later, “Wild Thoughts” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The riff from “Maria Maria” seems to move people — regardless of its context.