Home FV1 MUSIC SAMPLING: GENIUS OR ROBBERY?

Music sampling: genius or robbery?


FV1’s Bayar Hassan questions the ethics of sampling

Music has changed over the years, thanks to ground-breaking fusions and astonishing discoveries in music technology. Switching on the radio to find old tracks used on new can divide opinion, though.

Many artists now use samples. Even a single two-second piece of a four-minute song can be used as a sample. On the one hand, ever since music became a popular source of entertainment, you would think just about every single rhythm or beat has been produced by now so you can sympathise with artists who opt to use someone else’s sound. On the other, though, surely musicians have the responsibility to actually create music rather than just recycle it.

The question is, is sampling music just robbing another artist’s creativity or is it innovative and, even, sometimes, genius?

Lex Luger has produced two tracks - Hustle Hard by Ace Hood and Platinum by Snoop Lion (then known as Snoop Dogg). Even though both of them received a good response from the public, are they really original? What they do show is that a simple change in the layer of music to the background rhythm can change a record altogether.

The track ‘Who Gon Stop Me’ from Jay-Z and Kanye West’s album ‘Watch The Throne’ was originally sampled from the track from Flux Pavilion’s ‘I Can’t Stop’. The difference between the two tracks is that the cover of the track has longer stretch of bass than the original and, of course, that Watch The Throne’s version is hip-hop and Flux Pavilion’s is dubstep. Despite the different genres, artists can use methods of changing the sampling track to make the sound their own.

Clever stuff, yes. But genius or robbery? 

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