?uestlove on sampling and hiphop

Tell the truth, James Brown was old
‘Til Eric and Ra came out with “I Got Soul”
Rap brings back old R&B
And if we would not, people could’ve forgot

Stetsasonic came on the radio, and I’ve always loved this lyric as it really said what needed to be said about sampling in hiphop. Apparently the song is a response to James Mtume who was against sampling (I suspect he’s moderated his line in recent videos). So I went to to rapgenius page for Talkin’ All That Jazz and this video from ?uestlove was linked from that quote. It’s true, not just hiphop but also mashups too – I’ve gained so much musical knowledge from sampling, as well as the references in the lyrics. It’s a shame that because of business – it being so expensive or bothersome to sample, that creative multi-sample epics like 3 Feet High or Paul’s Boutique are nigh-on impossible to create nowadays – that such creativity was stifled after 1992 or so. Yes some have still created albums with many samples and mined the obscure (Avalanches, DJ Shadow, 2 Many DJs) but it’s rare because they have to spend years to clear them, and quite often swap in other samples and water it down for those they never will be able to clear (Madonna, Beatles, MJ etc).

But it strikes me as an own goal, because interest in James Brown, Bobby Byrd and yes even Mtume didn’t happen until people started sampling them – before they couldn’t even get arrested…and that dried up after the lawyers moved in. Now it’s crazy that if you sound a bit ‘like’ something, like with Blurred Lines who definitely stole the vibe but not sampled nor copied Marvin Gaye as many others have done before – the lawsuits fly. So even interpolation (replaying the samples, it’s what Dr Dre does) can be bad. It’s all anti-creative, where the free mixtape is what it should be, and the release is empty and lacking those references – and kids don’t know anything past five years ago. Yes they have forgot.

Relatio Clash

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