Sampling

The practice of cutting beats and looping them to the duration of a music track has been long established as a case of “pop music always ripping off” its predecessors. Sampling, however, hasn’t prevented music from owning its own identity, whether it be out of simplicity – wherein the track is clever in that it is catchy and of dance quality – or a self-awareness that is found in the aesthetic of the music itself.

Most notably, the drum breaks from James Brown and the JBs’ Funky Drummer (1970) and The Winstons’ Amen Brother (1969) are the most sampled in popular and hip-hop music to date. Whether it becomes apparent to a listener from the beginning, after a few listens, or not at all, the tracks inclusive of: Salt-N-Pepa’s Let the Rhythm Run (1988) and Dr. Dre’s Let Me Ride (1992) feature the drum break from Funky Drummer, whilst Oasis’ D’You Know What I Mean (1997) and N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton (1988) sample Amen Brother.

Perhaps one of the most recent examples of music sampling is found in Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP’s track Sugar Man (2014) which, in almost its entirety, samples Sixto Rodriguez’s 1970 release of Sugar Man. Further, the looped beat or dance track heard as a layer beneath the voice samples Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP’s earlier release We Speak No Americano (2010), which itself features Renato Carsone’s Tu Vuo’ Fa’ L’Americano (1956).

The familiarity of sampled rhythms or lyrics, paired with an electronica dance or hip-hop beat offers a broad mainstream appeal without detracting from a track’s individual identity.  It is what consumers like to hear, or as The KLF less subtly put it: it is what the consumers want shoved down their throats – they don’t want good or original music. Whether the sampled tracks make for bad music is debatable to a personal preference, but nevertheless, does not make what The KLF have stated any less substantiated.

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