It’s the summer of 2002 at a major label in midtown NY. The interns are all settled in and learning where the extra staples are and how to forward the phone calls. The work flow is flowin’, the AC is humming and the radio has been pumping the classic rock all day. Suddenly The Doors‘ “Five to One” comes on. The volume is up, the drums are pulsing and all of the heads in our row of cubicles are nodding. “Great tune,” says my co-worker. Without missing a beat (no pun intended) our intern turns to my co-worker and says, “Yo…I didn’t know you like Jay-Z! This song is blazin’!”
Should we laugh? Should we throw something at him? HR probably would have frowned upon both options, so we went with the look of frightened surprise and immediate correction. “This is the Doors, dude! Not Jay-Z.” Now strap in and hold on for this next part, cause then the intern says, “Oh,” with a perplexed gaze and an accepting head nod. “So the Doors play Jay-Z songs?”
Shhhhhh…shhhhh. Don’t get angry. Its easy to flip into music guru mode and go off on a passive aggressive diatribe showing off your vast musical knowledge and belittling the intern, but take the high road my friends. Don’t hate on sample heavy artists and don’t hate on knowledgably light fans. Samples bridge gaps and expose different generations to different styles of music, all the while sharing the same line of reasoning behind what makes the song great. It’s a symbiotic relationship, so let’s educate rather than condescend.
Take for example The Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache.” The drums in that song inspired a laundry list of some of the greatest rappers of all time. Like who? Like how’s this for a list of credentials: 2 Live Crew, Apache, Breeze, Busta Rhymes, Busy Bee, Chubb Rock, Coldcut, Dee Patten, Digital, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Double D & Steinski, Everlast, Faith Evans ft Black Rob, Freddie Foxx, Freestylers, Sound of London, Geto Boys, Goldie, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Hammer, Insane Poetry, J. Majik, Jive All Stars, Kool G Rap, Kool Moe Dee, KRS-One, Leaders of the New School, LL Cool J, Moby, Nas, Run-DMC, Schoolly D, Sugarhill Gang, Tone Loc,West Street Mob, and Young MC, just to name a few.
And from there we can look to see how fellow rapper and producer MF Doom struck a chord with Ghostface Killah on his monster record Fishscale. Sampling MF Doom’s “Fenugreek,” Ghost’s “9 milli bros.” is one of the most banging tracks on the record.
From Dr. Dre and the rest of the NWA crew popping on a Brass Construction record, listening to “The Message” and creating “I Aint Tha 1,” to Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand The Rain” helping to put Missy Elliot on the map in Supa Dupa fly fashion, we need to show music fans of today that samples use the momentum of yesteryear to propel their favorite artists of today.
And speaking of launching careers, Pharoah Monch pummeled onto the scene (pun intended this time) with the use of Akira Ifukube’s “Godzilla’s Theme (from “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah”).”
A post about samples wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to the one and only Wu Tang Clan (comin at ya). Their samples are vast and the beats are insane, and it’s a really fun moment when you sit and listen to a compilation like Fallin Off The Reel Vol. 1 , hear El Michaels Affair’s “CREAM,” (Yes, that’s right…not only a sample in the song, but as the title as well) and start envisioning RZA sitting and listening to that record, digging out the sample and laying down the beat.
So there you have it. Samples are all around us and have inspired a generation of artists and fans while simultaneously paying homage and breathing new life into the music of some of the greatest and most soulful artists of all time. And if you don’t know those artists, ya betta ask somebody. Take a cue from the Wu, throw an “S” in front of “C.R.E.A.M.” and scream: Sample Cuts Rule Everything Around Me, SCREAM get the money…dolla dolla bill ya’ll.