Hip-Hop’s Love of Sampling

Classic Hip-Hop Samples


Sampling is the utilization of elements of a musical piece in the production of a song. It is a very common practice in today’s rap/hip-hop industry that has heavily influenced the current production of music.  One of the most famous and classic samples in hip-hop is the use of “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band in the production of a track of the same name by the Sugarhill Gang. This song uses the orginal’s melody and percussion, using different instruments and adding lyrics.

Fight the Power

Another classic sample is Public Enemy’s use of “Funky Drummer” by James Brown in their song “Fight the Power” in 1989. They utilized and modified part of the drums featured in “Funky Drummer” for their own beat, rapping over it and adding guitar and other elements to fit their style. This song is a staple for old school rap and one of many examples of sampling in the genre.

Modern Sampling Examples

A Fond Farewell to

In his song “Seigfried,” Frank Ocean samples the song “A Fond Farewell” by Elliot Smith. This is the type of sample that doesn’t use direct cuts from the song but uses exact lyrics. Here Frank Ocean uses the lyric “This is not my life, it’s just a fond farewell to a friend.”

Four Women to The Story of O.J.

Jay-Z uses Nina Simone’s “Four Women” in his song called “The Story of O.J.” With this sample, he cuts some of Nina’s vocals, mainly the lyric “My skin is black” and the piano notes from her song. The lyric he chose to sample is indicative of his song’s theme of blackness.

Slow Hot Wind to Hot Wind Blows

This is a very blatant/obvious type of sample where the artist takes the main instrumental/beat from another song. In Tyler’s song, “Hot Wind Blows,” he uses the flute, piano, drums, and some of the vocals from Penny Goodwin’s “Slow Hot Wind.”

In Conclusion...

Although sampling has been perceived by many as stealing the work of others, I believe that it is simply another way to draw inspiration from the art of other people. Almost all art (especially music) is inspired by something someone else created, so it isn’t logical to call it blatant stealing or lack of creativity. Sampling is a way to transform a piece of art into something that represents the next artist’s mind and creativity. It is a common form of expression in the hip-hop industry and is greatly appreciated by many artists of today. 

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