Photo Credit: Akai MPC 2500 w/black pads by: ficusrock
Hope all is well with you. I’ve finally gotten around to Pt 2 of this series. In Part 1, I gave a brief history of sampling and, specifically, the tools used in the early days; and the explosion of sampling in the 80’s and 90’s that was fueled by the music of James Brown. Since then, not only has sampling evolved greatly with the advent of sampling technology, both in hardware and software tools, but it’s also taken on the form of a different kind of sampling – taking a song’s basic arrangement and feel (usually the hook) and creating a new song from it. One example that immediately come to mind in the last decade is Kirk Franklin’ s radio version (remix) of “Stomp”. When this release first hit the airwaves, it was quite noticeable to the listening public that the song’s groove was reminiscent of a very popular song by Funkadelic, namely “One Nation Under A Groove”. The interpolation comes into play as the tempo of “One Nation Under A Groove” (the verse section) was slowed down and the bass track was extracted for the main groove for “Stomp”. Whosampled.com shows a side by side comparison of the two. In this particular case, Kirk took the obtained permission and provided reference and credit to Funkadelic in the liner notes of his release. Before, during, and since then, there have been many instances were permission was not granted, resulting in copyright infringement lawsuits. While I’d venture to guess hip-hop holds the record for the highest count of sampling lawsuits, especially with the landmark case involving Biz Markie’s “I Need A Haircut” sampling of Gilbert Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally”, Kid AdRock of The Beastie Boys claims they hold the first sample lawsuit.
The laws of copyright infringement in cases like those above span far and wide and, to many, are still open to interpretation. I came across an interesting article (I’m sure there are many more out there) written by an artist on Twitter named Sean Grey. His article Thinking Out Loud: How to Legally Sample Songs For Free, provides some interesting questions for consideration, as well as feedback from other readers. While it’s not my intention to delve into the legalities of sampling in this post, it’s an area with depth that continues to be revisited time and time again. One of many good resources on this subject is here. Disc Makers also recently posted a good article entitled Sampling Safely – A Primer to Avoiding Lawsuits.
As the late 80’s progressed into the 90’s, Sean “Puff Daddy (bka Diddy)” Combs took arranging and composing based on sampling a step further and actually obtained permission to use the actual masters (not samples or interpolations) of songs to compose songs for releases under his artists Junior Mafia, Biggee Smalls, Little, Kim, Lil Cease, Faith Evans, etc. Popular hip hop songs were produced that used actual hooks from Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out”, Herb Alpert’s “Rise”, The Police’s “Every Step You Take”, even Jeff Lorber’s classic fusion track “Rain Song”. You may be able to associated each song above with the hit Diddy produced.
This type of new song arranging and composing hit it very big, and still continues to do so, with the likes of Kirk Franklin using the hook to Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard” for his 2005 hit “Looking For You”.
The topic matter in this particular post is nothing new. The question I have is, as of late, is there any merit to what I call “gross sampling” (using the actual song itself, (in the case of what Diddy and Kirk have done)? I would submit that there is some skill level, maybe some would say an art, to composing new (and I use the term loosely) songs. What, if any, are your thoughts? As an artist, songwriter, composer, and producer, I have my own but will reserve them until I finish this series.
In Part 3, I’ll give my perspective on sampling, sample packs, the tons of vendors that make them, the use of them in music composition, and related issues.
::: oceans of rhythm :::