Hip Hop/Sampling

 I love music.  Mostly classic rock but my tastes are pretty varied.  I go from the Rolling Stones to Johnny Cash.  10,000 Maniacs to The New York Dolls.  Buddy Holly, Steely Dan, Alanis Morissette, Warren Zevon, Dusty Springfield, Jerry Lee Lewis, Van Halen, Amy Grant, Bob Seger, Carole King, Harry Connick Jr, Liz Phair, Robert Cray, Ted Nugent, Rebecca St. James, Jewel, U2, Tom Petty and The Who are just a few of the artists I enjoy.  My Ipod has over 2500 song on it from a huge variety of artists.   I don’t listen to much new music out there.  I am mostly stuck in the 60’s and 70’s however there are a few “new” groups or artists that I like.  Sheryl Crow, Foo Fighters, The Ataris to name a few.  However, as you can see, even some of those are over 10 years old in terms of being new.  There are a few reasons I like these groups.  One is they play old school music – loud guitars with hook riffs, rocking drums and great lyrics.  Another is they write their own music which cannot be said of many of these Hip Hop stars.   Where has all the original music gone? 

What do the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mike Oldfield and Erasure have in common?  They all use Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” intro in their songs.  “Funky Cold Medina”   by Tone Lōc samples no less than 5 songs from classic rock artists.  Will Smith is given all these awards and accolades yet the majority of his hit songs are just samples.  He sampled the Clash song “Rock the Casbah” in his song Will2K and is praised for producing some new and great party jam song.  Give me a break!  These slackers ran out of original ideas long ago so they had to go and get some good songs and sample them.   If you get permission to sample one of these songs, that is fine but please don’t go and call yourself creative.

Speaking of permission, many of these flunkies don’t even get permission but just out and out steal.  Many artists of the original song don’t bother to pursue it legally but some do. The Rolling Stones are very litigious and protective when it comes to their music and well they should be.  They spent the time and effort to write the original song and then some slacker comes along and just steals it out from under them.  When the Stones wrote “Anybody seen my Baby?” they noticed that it sounded a lot like “Constant Craving” by K.d. Lang.  They immediately gave her a song writing credit on the album.   They didn’t try to make up excuses or anything. 

My wife put it well in that when you hear a new song on the radio, many times you think you like the song but you probably are just hearing the original song in the background and THAT is what you really like. 

 Here are some quotes from some of these hacks:

“Cutting and pasting is the essence of what hip-hop culture is all about for me. It’s about drawing from what’s around you, and subverting it and decontextualizing it.” —DJ Shadow

“I can take a Led Zeppelin drum loop, put a Lou Donaldson horn on it, add a Joni Mitchell guitar, then get a Crosby, Stills & Nash vocal riff.” —Prince Be 

“Sampling’s not a lazy man’s way. We learn a lot from sampling, it’s like school for us. When we sample a portion of a song and repeat it over and over we can better understand the matrix of the song.” —Daddy-O

And the winner for the most intellectual and genius quote is………

“Sampling artistry is a very misunderstood form of music. A lot of people think sampling is thievery but it can take more time to find the right sample than to make up a riff.” —Prince Be

It’s a form of music???  Hey! Mr. Prince!  What these original artists do is called WORK!  It’s called creativity.  What you do is just plain lazy.

I’m sitting here and listening to The Who “Love, reign o’er me”.  What a great, original song.  Classic!!  I never get tired of that song and it’s 30 years old!!!!  Townshend wrote that song when he was in his 20’s!  That is talent!  Prince Be, Willie and Puffy could only hope to write a song that good.

Now, can we please get a moratorium on any new song that includes a sampled song?  Also, please don’t give any awards to these hacks either.  The last thing they need is to be given accolades for “Best new song” when the song actually has samples in it from 40 years ago!!


15 Responses to “Hip Hop/Sampling”

  1. cheree Says:

    Vanilla Ice and “Ice, Ice Baby” ripped off Queen’s “Under Pressure.” I think you see this sampling in other forms of art as well.

    (Ecclesiastes 1:9-14 NIV) What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. {10} Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. {11} There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

  2. Roland Says:

    No, no Cheree…haven’t you heard Vanilla Ice say “It was do do do DAH, not do do do do do Dah.”

  3. newhoosier Says:

    I think sampling should be allowed, because sometimes the result is something better. Usually, it is not, but I think it’s okay to attempt to make something good better.

    There are times I hear a song from the 70s that doesn’t sound as good as a later song with the sample or a cover. And other times, it makes me appreciate the original that much more.

    It’s like American Idol: most of the time you say “oh they butchered that song” but sometimes “man, that was pretty good”

    But, I don’t completely disagree with you. Awards should be structured differently. Song of the year could be a cover, but if it were for a “new song” then certainly not.

    I suppose I see covers as being very similar to sampling. A cover is like a “remix” of the overall sound and a sample is like a “remix” of the words. I don’t think any of this post made sense, but I think sampling isn’t always a bad thing.

  4. Roland Says:

    I don’t mind a cover song. They are not taking the tune and laying it down under/over their own stuff. They are just remaking a song. It’s different.

  5. cheree Says:


    if you want to see something really original, check out this link to my friend’s blog and his posting of a youtube video.

  6. mark slattery Says:

    Hey what is this about Mike Oldfield using the Led Zep intro? Care to say which bit of music he does that on? I’d like to check it out! Mark

  7. ian Says:

    oh man, i really like that you used zep as your example. led zeppelin wrote maybe 5 riffs over the course of their musical career, and precious few lyrics. everything else was mix-and-mashed robert johnson, muddy waters, skip james, howlin wolf, et al. and unlike eric clapton or the who, they never credited the artists they “sampled” or even acknowledged them publicly. this non-digital sampling was rife in the boomer rock you seem to idolize and was, in my mind, far less creative than hip-hop sampling. a dj will take a small piece of an existing work and change it to fit into an entirely different and unique piece. these hacks from the 70’s just took a couple 30-year old songs and mashed them up into what amounted to a glorified white-boy cover version. if you can seriously listen to “it takes a nation of millions to hold us back” and not consider it, at very least, an original and highly innovative piece of music, then you need to stay in the 60’s and 70’s because hip-hop is thirty years old and it’s not going anywhere.

  8. Roland Says:

    It’s one thing to be influenced by an artist. Sheryl Crow is a great example. You can almost hear Keith Richard’s riffs in some of her songs…but it is not the actual Stones songs. It’s just an influence. Same thing for Zep.

    I must admit that Zeppelin never really did much for me. I have a few of their songs on my Ipod but never bought a single album of theirs.

    As for hip hop not going anywhere…didn’t they say the same thing for Dissco and Grunge?

  9. trevor Says:

    dude, listen to what tha man says! how old is grunge? 10 years? not a valid comparison. but now to jump in-depth into this because seriously, people complaining about sampling is one of those thangs that really gets on my nerves.

    your entire post is such ridiculous bullshit, that it should be a parody.

    1. you do not have a “varied” taste in music. you listen to boomer rock. and in tha case of those “new” artists, boomer rock revival. not to turn this in to any sort of oneupmanship, but i have over 10,000 tracks on my mp3 player, and a scroll through tha genres included lists (among others) alternative, bhangra, blues, bollywood, classical, crunk, crust, dancehall, dub, folk, funk, grime, grunge, hardcore, hip-hop, indie, jazz, latin, metal, psychobilly, reggae, rock, ska, soul, swing, and thrash. tell me again that you have diverse taste.

    2. those quotes you included about sampling are actually very good and i find them inspirational, however blasphemous you imply them to be. i actually don’t know where to start with you. you go on and on about permission, and work, and creativity, but claim it to be alright if an artist is “influenced” by something already created… so do you seriously think that sample-based artists aren’t influenced or inspired by their source material? that they *actually* only sample because its “easier?” (also, if they’re trying to get it cleared and legal, its most definitely *not* easy). if Prince Be and DJ Shadow can’t explain sampling to you, then i fear you’ll misunderstand this ART FORM forever.

    3. glad to hear that you can still listen to The Who thirty years later. i can still listen to Rapper’s Delight. guess what; its almost thirty years old. guess what else; it uses a sample.

    4. finally, even if i didn’t disagree with just about everything you’ve said, i would find it unnecessary to call a moratorium on hip-hop sampling. if you had been paying attention to mainstream rap in this decade, sampling actually doesn’t happen that often. almost everything coming out these days is all synths and shit. sure, there’s that Rihanna song, but if you’re going to argue about “Tainted Love” being a sacred piece of music that should be beyond sampling, you should…not.

    and of course gotta give big ups to mah bro ian holdin’ it down. hip-hop is not going anywhere – why would it, when its so commercially viable? its record companies that control what’s popular in tha long run, and if 50 Cent (unfortunately) continues to make money, they’re gonna keep puttin’ out shit like that. not like that’s a good example of real good hip-hop, but that’s not tha point. hip-hop ain’t no flash in tha pan. it ain’t no hula hoop. it ain’t no yo yo.


  10. musicluva Says:

    Allright… to start with…name one song by tupac that is a sample from another song…can’t find any?.. that’s cause there isin’t any…. and an old rap… and he even has new stuff commin out… long after his death… because HE WAS DEDICATED TO MUSIC and wrote alot of song that where never published cause he wanted them only to come out after his death

    Juste like ice cube… he’s a great rapper and his stuff is all him… no SAMPLING, the same can be said about eazy-e, snoop dogg and yes… even DR DRE… cause yes he did make a cover of a song… but he made it WITH the original band and their permition and HELP…

    Rap will never die…

    and guess what…rap isn’t the only thing that will never die… the good old stuff… country… ska… metal… alternative… al that shit… do you know why?? cause no matter what YOU like some one else will like it to… and some one else will like other kinds of music… so don’t diss it just cause you don’t like it… respect it just like i respect the music you like….

    Swerra ju out pi ej checkerra back plus tard

  11. Roland Says:

    I don’t think I referred to rap but was mainly talking about hip hop. There is a slight difference between the two. I don’t really have an issue with rap or hip hop for that matter. Just the sampling.

  12. Jay Says:

    Many non hip-hop artists, make a living off of sampling. THey love it when a rap producer uses their music. Many unknown jazz, rock, classical artists have struck it rich because a hit rap song was made out of it, so don’t get it twisted these people are not getting anything stolen from them, they are very well compensated. 90% publishing is a common payout….and what you are missing is that these bands are very involved in the creation process. Read the credits of some of the rap CDs you will find your very own classic rock favorites as co-writers and composers.

  13. Roland Says:

    Jay, not saying that people don’t make money. I just don’t think it is that creative to sample the exact song from someone.

  14. Mark Says:

    Most of this is the people’s fault for buying crap music. I refused to believe how much crap people buy until I worked in a CD store and the only stuff we sold–with very few exceptions–was gangsta rap. It really is where the money is.

    I’m with you 100% on how ridiculous it is to give people credit for making songs from samples. I know Trevor sees it differently, and everyone is entitled to his own opinion. I think it takes almost 0 talent to make a song by copying another. (As a musician, I can say that with confidence…and that doesn’t mean that 100% of people who copy music don’t actually have talent…just that they don’t always use it) I’m not even that wild about people singing songs that they didn’t write (hence I don’t like much country music).

    Even so, I have found a few covers that are pretty well done. More than anything, music’s beauty is in the ear of the listener. Some people’s ears are just trained very differently than others. To me, the most important quality of an artist or band is their technical skill on their instruments and their creativity/originality. Other people just want whatever beat helps them “shake it” the best. Other people just care about good lyrics. It all comes down to your purpose for listening to music.

    Despite the opposition you’ve encountered here, I agree with your post. If I could push a button somewhere to destroy most of the rap/hip hop out there, I wouldn’t even have to think twice about it. Clearly, other people see it differently, and they’re welcome to.

  15. Roland Says:

    I actually enjoy a cover from time to time. I feel they are giving due and respect to the original artist.

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