HIP HOP IS DEAD (an opinion on sampling)

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I don’t know how many of you bedroom producers have EVER had this problem, but personally have not always been a fan of sampling music/I hated it. Well, Maybe that’s TOO far. I’ll level with you. Maybe it’s because I didn’t feel like I was very good at it, or possibly because I don’t personally feel like I had an ear for it. Anytime I would try to play with a sample, whether it be chopping or stretching it, it would always seem like I ruined it. I would get frustrated and ultimately I would NEVER finish a piece with a sample. The closes I came was one day when I decided I would sample Green finch and Linnet bird from the Sweeney Todd soundtrack. The final result can be found HERE if you are interested.

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As a means of advancing my knowledge as a Hip Hop Producer, I have come to the conclusion that a Hip Hop Producer that CANNOT effectively sample an APPROPRIATE song is not REALLY a Hip Hop producer, more of a composer — and don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with that— but it’s not what I want to go for. I have actively started to better my sampling game and here are the steps I have chosen to take:


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In the ‘For You’ section of iTunes, on a couple of occasions, I have noticed a playlist entitled “Sampled”. In it, they have a popular song and immediately following they have the source inspiration. Of course I scrolled through to see who sampled who. A lot Nina Simone and Otis Redding (which is what I expected) and this gave me an idea. I spend most of my day at my day job listening to music and from time to time I will find something that I THINK I might be able to do something with—but by the time I get home I forgot the song and have probably taken on other endeavors. Well not anymore! TODAY I CREATED MY OWN SAMPLE PLAYLIST and I plan of filling it with songs that I feel I want to sample.

To me, this has been a long time coming and is LONG overdue.

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it’s not as if I don’t see the value in sampling. I understand that sampling is at the roots of hip hop. Coming from more of a traditional background with music, being one of playing musical instruments and reading sheet music, personally I have always felt I shared a deeper connection with the songs I composed personally. Though I grew up in a very hip hop heavy house hold, I rarely got a taste of hip hop that wasn’t on the radio. My father was a DJ for parties and events in his spare time and he rarely would get asked about playing anything of quality or substance (subjective I know, again another story for another day). Hearing only the mainstream lyrics and subject matters, and seeing the crowd that gravitated towards them, turned me off of hip hop and as a result I spent a lot more time listening to Classic Rock and Alternative Rock. It won’t be until several years later, after walking away from and coming back to music as an adult, that I would take the time to figure why Hip-hop producers sampled, as opposed to composing their own beats and instrumentals from nothing. To me, composing something from the ground up is invigorating. I literally had to adopt a completely NEW outlook on sampling to advance my production quality. To start, I had to take the time to learn just what Hip hop was, just what rap is, and just why sampling came about.

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As much I would love to share the history of hip Hop, that’s not what this post is about. This post is an agreement that I want to make with hip hop. I have long said that hip hop is dead, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. The music industry is built off the backs of beat makers, composers and producers and it is on US to revival what we love so. As Producers, it’s up to us to have the objective ear to point out what doesn’t belong. It starts with crafting interesting and fun beats and producing music that not only makes you dance, but makes you think. The blind promotion of Materialism and Misogyny is not hip Hop or hip Hop culture and as producers it’s up to us to safe guard our treasure and be more selective about what we release to our audiences.

As producers it’s up to us to study our predecessors and remember the road they paved was not an easy one to walk. To preserve hip hop culture for future generations we need to study the roots of hip hop and build upon the foundation that has been laid before us. And so, I vow that I will chop up at least one sample a week in my production routine and finish at least 4 songs a month using a sample of some type.  A small step, I know. But we all need to do our job at reviving hip hop and preserving sampling is one of the most fundamental things I feel we can do.

How will you preserve hip Hop? Let me know. Leave comments, share, and enjoy!!!

-AuRe Voir



Bettye Swann, James Carr, Darondo, Candi Staton, Joe Tex, fon Covay, Irma Thomas, Eddie Bo

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