I’ve been thinking a lot about sampling lately. I’ve always been very much against the idea of sampling, as epitomized by what Puff Daddy did with ‘Every Breath You Take’ or even what Vanilla Ice did with ‘Under Pressure’ way back when. When the most memorable part of your song belongs to somebody else entirely, how is that ok? I don’t mean financially, because I know the writers of the source material are paid, but artistically.
But recently I started thinking about more subtle forms of sampling in a new light. It struck me that Bob Dylan, and all great folk musicians, have essentially sampled other people’s work for centuries now. Dylan has a great song called ‘Nettie Moore’ on his latest album and that title and pieces of its chorus are “borrowed” from a song written in the 1800s. And he does that all the time. It’s expected, it’s tradition.
So why should it be any different for modern artists to pick up a bit of guitar here, the beat of a drum there, and incorporate it into their music? In one sense, it is different because we’re talking about using actual pieces of recorded music as opposed to lifting a melody line or some lyrics. But the spirit is the same… creation as a fluid and collaborative process.
The funny thing is I planned this little discussion to go with Outkast’s ‘The Way You Move’ because I just assumed that catchy chorus was lifted from an old 70s soul song. But it turns out Big Boi wrote this one all by himself. So ignore the previous three paragraphs and enjoy…