Ever since the Sugar Hill Gang released Rapper’s Delight in 1979, the first popular single to feature sampling (they sampled Good Times by Chic), artists have been dusting off that vinyl to snag hooks, beats, drops, and whatever else can give their sound some of that old school flavor. It should come as no surprise that hip-hop relies so heavily on samples of other peoples work as scratching is one of the origional pillars of hip-hop. I’m about 99% sure this is probably where my disdain for copyright laws comes from. It’s like forcing an painter to share credit with the company who makes his paint. It’s not so much the material, but what the artist does with it that is interesting in my opinion. If you had a chance to watch Rip! A Remix Manifesto you’d have seen that mash-up artists like Girl Talk only grab 3 or 4 second intervals of a song and loop them continuously to make their beat, with a resulting sound that sounds nothing like the original. On the other side of the spectrum you have artists/producers like Kanye who just speed up soul songs, but with all the other accouterments they add, you can still claim that what they make is just as unique and valid as the original.
Okay…so it’s pretty easy to spot a Kanye sample, but can you pull the sample out of Blackstreet’s No Diggity? A little tougher to grab (maybe not if you’re a huge Bill Wither’s fan), but it’s a cut off of Bill Wither’s Grandma’s Hands from his album Just As I Am (which is the same album that Ain’t No Sunshine is on). Why is this important? Well, for one thing, Grandma’s Hands is awesome, but so are Ain’t No Sunshine, Use Me, Lean on Me, and Just The Two of Us, which are all songs by Bill Withers (and coincidentally have been heavily sampled and covered by other artists) that you might not have heard unless you went in search of more Bill Wither’s music after hearing the Grandma’s Hand sample. What I’m trying to say is that picking out samples can lead you to some great older artists that you might not know or have forgotten about.
So now the hard part: how do you figure out the samples unless you already know the sampled song? Well you could amass a huge library of old music and study it, or you could just go to youtube and let the Florida based DJ Funktual do all the leg work. DJ Funktual has a web-video series on youtube where each episode focuses on ten classic songs that have been sampled. With over 36 videos already he should keep you pretty busy with “new” music to fill your Ipod. Yeah, he’s a guy who makes youtube videos, so you expect a certain amount of eccentricity from him, which he delivers. However, you’d be foolish to mistake his eccentricity for anything other than passion for the music. If you question this guy’s authenticity, take a peek at his youtube followers…yeah, Illdoc1? That’s Jay Smooth, who you should know by now from T’s posts runs NYC’s longest running underground hip-hop show.
Here are two clips I quickly pulled, but you can find all his videos on his youtube channel.