Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Five-Finger Discount

The world of sampling is like a pentagon.

Side 1 - The Outside
The combatants over here believe it belittling to call sampling a skill or an art, let alone music. They'll primarily deride rap for being based off of someone else's notes and say it's reducing another's passion and musicianship to a few simplistic, unoriginal loops. It's riding a real artist's craft, requires essentially no talent but to pick records off a shelf, and relies on stealing in minutes a sound that might have taken years to perfect.

Side 2 - The Inside
The pro-sampling squad would call that previous group myopic and even ignorant. To take what otherwise might have been confined to dusty crates and dilapidated basements and reanimate those records is the greatest favor a modern genre can do to yesterday's flavors. Furthermore, to manipulate, through the use of digital instruments, and reinterpret those sounds into a contemporary context is to satisfy fundamental requisites for musical expression.

Side 3 - The Judicial Side
The reason Ready To Die cannot be purchased from official retailers anymore, the reason The Turtles and De La Soul will be forever linked, and the reason Biz Markie had to insist All Samples Cleared are the same: copyright laws. For a culture that came from siphoning street electricity to fuel the night, for a genre based on the break, with judges stepping in and proving briefcases will always dominate over beatsmiths, Hip-Hop has been crippled, but also strengthened, by the courtroom. In many ways, The Judicial Side reinforces The Outsider's thievery argument, while also making The Insiders push their art, through varying techniques, to another, more creative level.

Side 4 - The Dre Side
Does Daz supplying the melody for Ain't No Fun make you rethink the "Produced by Dr. Dre" Doggystyle credits? Does Warren G bringing in Donny Hathaway's Little Ghetto Boy make you question a legend's legacy? In debating the specific practice of sampling for a record, this is basically the Outside v. Inside debate but amongst Hip-Hop heads: can you separately define a producer, a beatmaker, and a digger? Can you create lasting music simply by finding a song to sample? Is Dre a bully or a genius? As I see it, Hip-Hop has always been based on the how more so than the what, i.e., it's not merely what records you're holding, but how you flip the sample that makes the song. Would Ain't No Fun have ended up as an anthem, would The Chronic have ended up a classic without Dre's touch, without him creating the how? As Snoop astutely put its, "if you brought in the beat, that's all you did, was brought in the beat. You didn't produce this record. This song says 'produced by' not 'brought in the beat by'." Others would disagree still.

Side 5 - The Primo Side
To many heads, "stop snitching" may have more to do with sampling than the streets. Ask DJ Premier, and you'll hear that revealing sample sources is near treasonous. Primo, and his ilk, have tended to come to this conclusion based on two factors: 1) The Judicial Side; with sampling laws enforced more and more, and producers already having to buck their original blueprints, if a record is scrambled to get past the lawyers, revealing it may jeopardize that song's future and that producer's livelihood. 2) It used to be tradition for diggers to make a flee market trek and end up scouring through bins to discover scant seconds of gold. Nowadays, you can just google a sample, right click a song, and, in a matter of minutes, have ended with the same sound a digger might have searched forever for. As in all these examples, the digital age has influenced, for good and bad, the nature of sampling in Hip-Hop music, and where you stand is simply a matter of what side you choose to take.

With all that being said, each point is relevant to today's entry. I have collected, through various sources, twenty-five samples that have all been used on Nas songs. In going over this package, Side 1 will ask if taking the opening notes from a popular Bette Midler song is really to exercise skill. Side 2 will argue that sampling a section of an out-of-print Persuaders album brings attention to a group that could easily be forgotten otherwise. Side 3 will show that with copyrights and royalties now built into the process of getting a record out, a George Michael sample might have ultimately sabotaged a great song from ever being released. Side 4 will have you evaluate a sample used by Dr. Dre and gauge what, if anything, a song is beyond its mere source material. Side 5 will simply scream that disclosing these sources, especially in such an open way as online, is wrong from the start. But that's all for you to decide.

This collection is a combination of samples that either appeared on I Am, Nastradamus, God's Son or Street's Disciple. Because a number of other collections have already been committed to Nas' first two LPs, and then Stillmatic, I wanted to avoid too much redundancy. Also, Firm and QB's Finest-related tracks, along with several songs Nas guested on, have been included. And then unreleased ones are here too. Additionally, I have provided a text file within the rar package which reveals what sample was used for what song, but I want to avoid posting that list here just yet.

Bette Midler - Superstar
Brian Bennet - Solstice
Chris Barber's Jazz Band - Petite Fleur
Donna Summer - Once Upon A Time
Earth, Wind, & Fire - Fantasy
Eddie Holman - I Love You
Eddie Kendricks - The Newness Is Gone
Edna Wright - Spend The Night With Me
Ella Fitzgerald - Russian Lullaby
The Emotions - If You Think
Francis Lai - Stronger Than Us
Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns - Peace Fugue
George Michael - Careless Whisper
Jimmy Smith - I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby
Kenny Loggins - This Is It
Larry Page Orchestra - Just A Little Bit
Lightin' Rod - Sport
Lyn Collins - Take Me Just As I Am
Mandrill - Love Song
Mary Jane Girls - Musical Love
Norman Connors - Valentine Love
The Persuaders - We're Just Trying To Make It
Southside Movement - I've Been Watching You
Tommy Tate - For The Dollar Bill
Wasis Diop - Dune

Rebel To America: Sample Collection

*NOTE: Very much thanks to the good people at the-breaks.com and my favorite Frenchman, Bounce, for their help in making this compilation.--Fletch


Blogger JoacimW said...

Big up for this dope collection of samples! Eddie Kendricks "The Newness Is Gone" is one of my favs!

August 09, 2006 12:50 AM  
Anonymous Ill E said...

yea, the way Kanye flipped that Eddie Kendricks song was great... and it's one of Nas' best songs too

thanks Fletch. I'm a producer, so I love listening to samples, and comparing them to the new songs and seeing how the producers used it.

August 09, 2006 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Felix said...

this is a pretty thought provoking article, as a beatmaker who sometimes posts samples i find on the breaks i think that this topic needs to be discussed more in an intelligent fashion and this is a good start

August 10, 2006 8:39 PM  

<< Home