Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge.
Today marks the start of our second season here on DOPEfm.
I tweaked the logo a bit for the new year, but just like last year, you can look forward to 12 excellent episodes about rich cultural history of hip-hop.
I’ll be with you for the next thirty minutes as we explore the art of sampling.
You can download the podcast for free, stream it with the player below, or continue reading. Of course, you could do all three as well.
I did that interview with Lucy’Lo about a year ago. We had a great discussion about hip-hop culture and of course sampling was a big part of it.
I think we should be able to sample in hip-hop as long as we give credit to the original artist. That is exactly what Lucy’Lo was saying in that little clip we just played. If you want to hear the rest of that interview, go to the Artist Interview tab at chasemarch.com to download it and read it for free.
As hip-hop artists, we should have the freedom to sample as long as we are upfront and clearly admit the samples we have used. I think we could have a footnote system in place just like how it’s done in a piece of writing. When we credit someone for an idea in a blog post, academic paper, or a book, we don’t pay them for that. Why should rappers have to?
In talking to artists like Lucy’Lo, I have found that many of them don’t care so much about the money, they want the recognition. He even stated that if he gets caught for using a sample, it would be a good thing because people have noticed him. So, for the smaller groups not on major labels, who don’t have all the resources and money, continue to sample. I’m not mad at you and I hope no one else is either.
But if you do blow up and start making a lot of money with a certain song and end up getting caught for using a sample, you will have to pay up and cut the original artist in on your profits. It’s just respectful to pay homage to those that provided us with the building blocks for what we are able to do.
Producers can put the liner notes out there. It would be easy to make a commentary-type track at the end of an album that clearly lists the samples used.
Here’s some advice for all the producers out there.
If you are making beats or songs and are using samples, start writing down the tracks you used for each song.
Years from now, you probably won’t remember what you sampled and you’ll have to dig through and try to figure out where all your sounds came from if you want to clear those samples. Of course at the end of your track, you could just tack on a small commentary by saying, “That sampled such and such.”
I want to play that De La Soul song for you now so you can see what the two versions sounded like and you can hear for yourself whether or not you think De La Soul should’ve been sued for this.
Was that what got De La Soul in trouble?
That wasn’t even a full song. It was an interlude. It was only a tiny little portion of their record. Sure, it did sell millions of copies and it is a hip-hop classic, but I don’t know if The Turtles shoudl have went after them so hard for the use of that sound.
Had I been familiar with the original record prior to this case, I don’t think I would have been mad at De La Soul for ruining the original song. I don’t think their interlude did that. I think they were creating something new and artistic.
Doesn’t all art build upon what has come before? Does the first artist to ever paint a hill get compensated every time someone else paints a hill? I don’t think so. Who owns an image of a hill?
However, we do have those records and they do belong to the artists in general. So maybe we need to leave the business behind here. We don’t need to be paying inordinate amounts of money to use a sample.
As musicians, we could reach out to each other and say, “I really like your record. I love the sound that you put down there. I want to use that to create something new. Can you let me do that?”
I am willing to bet that quite a few artists wouldn’t have a problem with that.
But maybe they wouldn’t and that’s why DJ Premier did this interlude on a Gangstarr record. (explicit language)
I love what DJ Premier said there, but it makes me feel a bit guilty for calling out the sample Mullet N Steps used. Of course, I only did so to illustrate a point, to show you what sampling is and how it fits into hip-hop culture.
I love sampling and don’t think we should do what some producers now do. They create all of their own sounds because of the fear of being sued. There is something rich and dirty and grimy about using samples that you simply cannot get with synthesized music.
Sampling is a part of hip-hop and has a place in this culture. We should recognize that and as musicians agree that we can share each other’s work to create new works.