Samples and sampling culture is widely seen as an essential part of contemporary electronic music production. From hip-hop to house, techno to R’n’b and Dub, the ability to extract melody, harmony or rhythm from any given recorded article has influenced the course of modern music making to great lengths. And it’s probably formed the backbone of your favourite music, stretching all the way back to when your parents were shaking their stuff at ‘the disco’. And in 2014, the art of sampling is being used now more than it ever has done and forms an important part of a large quantity of modern music production.
During the early days of modern pop music, Lyn Collins scored a hit with 1979 disco classic ‘Think (About It)’ and since its release, the funk laced break-beat has fuelled generations of hip hop cuts. Snoop Dogg And Warren G utilized it’s gooey break forming the basis of Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None) J Dilla a man often credited for his almost covert methods of sampling utilized the funk in his album cut Ash Rockin, and even forming the main break in Squarepusher’s famous dig into break-beat chaos, Come On My Selector. In fact, Lynn’s groove was so popular among emerging genres that a whopping 60 counts of it being used and recorded exist and they’re the ones we can spot.
A few years later one of the most famous breaks, The Winston’s Amen Brother (and it’s ubiquitous six-second drum-solo) was born, forming the basis of jungle music, the Amen break. Its syncopated rhythm and dynamic versatility has actually made George Sylvester Coleman’s drum solo one of the most sampled break-beats in history, spawning several sub cultures. It’s been used on countless records, from NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, to Renegade’s ‘Terrorist’ on Moving Shadow Recordings, acting as the foundation for jungle and drum and bass’ golden era. One of it’s most famous examples is SHY FX and UK Apache’s Original Nutter, a hard edged raga-jungle track that propelled the emerging UK scene further into the spotlight.
Another break sample one of the more obvious choices is James Brown’s explosive The Funky Drummer. Aside from populating well-known slices of hip hop history in the form of Dr. Dre’s Let Me Ride, Nas’s Get Down, Mos Def’s furious banger Mathematics, it’s recently made appearances in the likes of pop music on Emelie Sande’s Heaven and UK grime-pop man Lethal Bizzle and his London-tinged ode, Go Hard.
In today’s times, these bygone days of sample culture seem a mere wet-patch on the never-ending fabric of music to build from. In 2014, we’re now hearing samples appearing from literally everywhere, lifted from the most surprising of places. Due to a sharp and precise evolution within technology, people now have the freedom to extract more quickly, more easily and importantly, more cleverly. Sometimes, you won’t even recognize them in the music you hear.
For example, Africa Hi-Tech’s Out In The Streets directly samples an already well-used vocal hook from reggae history with Ina Kamoze’s World A Music. Mark Pritchard extracted the famously piercing, falsetto cry of Out In the Streets/They Call It Murder and re-aligning its context in a mesh of juke percussion and multi-tempo beats, a new form for an already familiar sonic hook. It amounted to a completely new context for a sample previously found within the likes of Damian Marley’s slow-burning reggae hit Welcome to Jamrock and Junior Reid.
Further examples of pop-music sampling come from XXYYXX or mutant electronica producer Ital, who both sampled elements from Beyoncé’s Baby Boy for, ahem, Boi (let’s not also forget ‘deep house’ pup Cyril Hahn, who caused an online frenzy by simply slowing down the vocal pitch of Destinys Child’s Say My Name).
Araabmuzik took things a step further and built his album ‘Electronic Dream’ an instrumental hip hop album entirely from samples of trance records released post-millennium (plundering the likes of Adam K’s remix of Kaskade’s 4am for Streetz Tonight , Aura Sunset’s Remix of Satellite by Oceanlab plus many more progressive dance classics) formed a fresh and unique palette of hip hop beats, delivered through his masterful handling of an MPC .
But this sacred musical technique is still causing rifts and problems between today’s superstar popstar-cum-DJ crowd. A literal storm erupted when Flo Rida ‘copied’ deep house outfit Infinity Ink’s ‘Infinity’ for Can’t Believe It, Will.i.am ‘illegally’ used Anjunabeats’ Mat Zo’s melodies from Rebound, whilst Flo (named the stain of the music industry”) again received flack for the procurement of Diplo’s beats, according to both parties rather choicely Twitter disputes. Even the mainstream is borrowing in some cases stealing and even from each other.
There’s more on offer these days to choose from when making music for the future of diversity and variety in music, it’s a massive plus (even if you are getting inspiration from a One Direction topline).
While there’s mountainous amounts of watered music flooding the market like never before, it’s keeping the fine art form of sample based music alive and kicking in its wake. The underground tastemakers shaping the future of contemporary music shall continue to lap-up this important technique and use it in new, imaginative ways for years to come. Listen in… and listen good.
Written by Joe Gamp
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