Sampling

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I think some fellow bloggers have done a good job of elucidating the sampling debate given some shine by Lord Quas’s apparent request for the removal of a compilation of original samples for Madvillainy. Hiphopisread has been on the story like Fox News on a car chase in Los Angeles; I’ve enjoyed perusing it during my morning blogroll. (Side note: some of the “blogger” comments he imbedded in his post are quite funny). Being as Kyle and I have often had this discussion in the past, and also employed the oft-quoted Primo, “…that’s some greedy ass, fake bull$hit…” I wanted to add my nickels.

The researcher in me accepts most of the sentiments shared by Ivan and some of his readers. There are few experiences that get me more amped than listening to a track and having that “A-Ha” moment that links a track to some dusty song from three decades ago. I’ve often, in my excitement, dropped some of my friends an email, something to the effect: “Yo, check [Track Title] by [Artist]; you hear that vocal sample/bassline/etc.? Yadda yadda yadda…”

As such, my interest in compilations such as the aforementioned Madvillainy samples, or websites that curtail my research, e.g. SampleSpot, certainly peak my interest and have serviced me well. And I have sought out sites that provide information on tracks; I own several compilation albums, e.g. (and perhaps ironically) DJ Premier Salutes James Brown, which features original James Brown tracks on one disc, with Disc 2 featuring hip hop songs that sampled said tracks…mixed by Primo by the way (as per my sources).

In short, the hip hop fan in me appreciates the access to sampling information, whether it’s in the album’s credits or not.

With that said, I can also align with the ideas that Lord Quas, or Madlib, or whoever else may posit regarding the act of posting/promulgating sample origins. Hear me out.

Hip hop producers have managed to make great music AND clear/cite their samples. Both activities can coexist in a “financially perpendicular” relationship. ha

However, I can understand, from an artist’s perspective, why they’d prefer to have the samples remain obscure…or at least not available in a collective union. It MAY challenge the freedom they have in making the beats we love so much. I understand the gist of sample clearance. From that, I can derive a sense of what an artist must go through when conceptualizing a track/beat/album – it can be quite daunting I imagine. And while I mean no disrespect to the sampled artists, I don’t think clearance should be a hindrance to the creation of an amazing album, say…for consistency sake, Madvillainy.

I know, it’s really an argument one can hardly push through too easily.

Okay, the grand finale.

From an artist’s perspective, I can certainly understand Lord Quas’s request (the manner and reason of his request are another thing). While I don’t wholly agree that identifying samples hurts hip hop, I think it walks the fence of hip hop capitulating to “the Man,” or sample clearance regulations. As such, it almost defies the spirit of what backs the revolutionary history of hip hop. Despite the Souljah Boys and Rick Ross’s of the world, I still see hip hop as the music of the people; the unity, soul, and creative threads that tie its listeners together. (Sorry, I’ve been distracted by Duke winning…talk about snitches…) In a way, I see sampling as aligning with that notion, and allowing artists to spin some sonic yarn that I, in NJ, can feel, as well as dude in Texas, L.A., Chicago.

NOTE: The above are the thoughts of me, and do not necessarily, or in its entirety, reflect the thoughts of other Trading Tapes contributors. But, if Kyle agrees with what I’ve shared, he damn well better cite me.

UPDATE: Check hiphopisread for an update on the debate, and another insightful perspective.

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One Response to “Sampling”

  1. The Economics of Sampling… « Trading Tapes Says:

    […] to follow up on Pete’s post, here’s my […]

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