This controversial practice has been viewed as stealing and unoriginal, an early position of many of hip-hop’s early detractors.
Others, like myself, see it at as repurposing.
Some of hip-hop’s best know songs are based on very clear samples. Sugarhill Gang used Chic’s “Good Times” on “Rapper’s Delight” and the Incredible Bongo Band’s version of “Apache” for their song “Apache.”
The ultimate would be Run-DMC’ sampling Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” which I also like to blame for the rebirth of Aersomith.
But sampling has come a long way with albums like DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing and Girl Talk’s All Day, two incredible sound collages. (Yes, one could debate that it’s turntablism and not hip-hop but I’d counter that turntablists are hip-hop. A debate for another day though.)
I’ve always loved the art of repurposing which is probably why have such an affinity for hip-hop and punk rock. Both were spawned out of have-nots using found objects, if you will, to create their own form of expression. Sadly, in these litigious times, producers are barely sampling these days. (See Copyright Criminals for more information.)
Another reason I love samples is because you get to discover new music through research samples. Like an onion, you just peel back the layers of a song, learn about more music and expose yourself to new things.
But sometimes… sometimes, sampling goes wrong.
How? You hear a few familiar opening notes to a song and you get excited. And about two seconds later, you realize it’s not the song you thought it was. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s usually a shitty pop song. Here’s a sample.
Jennifer Lopez – “Jenny From The Block”
The Beatnuts – “Watch Out Now”
Crime: Lifting Enoch Light’s “Hi-Jack” sample from The Beatnuts’ “Watch Out Now,” their biggest commercial hit. Whenever I hear this, I get excited… for about five seconds. Then, J-Lo comes in and rains on my parade. Stealing from The Beatnuts isn’t cool on any block. Seriously, they need to beat the nuts off the producer who jacked that loop. (*Rimshot* Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week.)
Verdict: Never trust a big butt and a smile.