The Art of Sampling in Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop is a genre of music that is beloved by many avid music enthusiasts around the world. Throughout the past couple of decades, it has been evident that sampling has slowly become a staple of the genre of Hip-Hop. 

Sampling, in laymen’s terms, is reusing a specific portion of a sound recording from another recording. What’s interesting about sampling is that it is not just simply the reuse of sounds from recordings, as it is a multi-layered process of extracting elements such as melodies, rhythms, speech, sounds, or entire bars of music which is then re-pitched, sped up, or slowed down, looped, equalized and manipulated in many other ways to present it in an entirely new way.

When it comes to the process of Sampling, there are several factors that should be taken into account such as the rules when it comes to Sampling as well as Fair use. But let’s not let that distract us from the magic that happens in the process of Sampling and truly appreciate it for the art form it is in the modern day. When done right, Sampling can breathe life into a song like no other.

Let’s go through deconstructions of some of the best uses of sampling in Hip-Hop to further delve deep into this creative and genius art form.

1. Wu-Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M

Song: C.R.E.A.M
Sample appears at 0:06, 0:16 & 0:26

Sampled Song: The Charmels - As Long as I’ve Got You
Sample appears at 0:00, 0:18 & 0:20

This is arguably one of the best examples to showcase how the use of samples can amplify the mood of the song. The uncertain but sweet and melancholic soul melody of ‘As Long as I’ve Got You was sampled by the multi-talented artist/producer RZA in C.R.E.A.M into a dark, gritty and lo-fi mood. The tonal shift in the sample is evident when comparing the two tracks. RZA’s creative use of the sample contributed to the success of the song which also made this song a cult classic amongst Hip-Hip enthusiasts.

2. Madvillain - ALL CAPS!

Sample appears at 0:12, 0:23 & 1:51

Sampled Song: Ironside - Opening Credits ‘Crime Scene
Sample appears at 0:00, 2:14 & 2:23

Madvillain is a duo that consists of the legendary producer Madlib and now late artist/producer and Underground Hip-Hop legend, MF DOOM. The song ALL CAPS! Is from their album ‘Madvillainy’. This is one of the best examples of how manipulating the sample very little can still add a different feeling to the song. Madlib has taken the grainy sample of the opening credits from the Cult Classic 60s/70s TV Show Ironside and added minimal drums and created the perfect instrumental to showcase the insane wordplay and off-kilter rhymes of MF DOOM.

3. Nas - The World is Yours

Song: The World is Yours
The sample appears at 0:00 (and throughout)

Sampled Song: Ahmed Jamal Trio - I Love Music
The sample appears at 5:07 & 5:11

The song ‘The World Is Yours’ by NAS from his seminal debut album ‘Illmatic’ was produced by the now late all-time great producer Pete Rock. Pete Rock is one of the producers that was influenced by Jazz which is evident by his smart use of the jazz melody of ‘I Love Music’ track from ‘The Awakening’ LP by Ahmad Jamal Trio shows how through sampling, even smooth and soothing melodies can be turned into gritty and strong melody.

4. The Pharcyde - Runnin’

Song: Runnin’
The sample appears at 0:05 & 2:53 (and throughout)

Sampled Song: Stan Getz and Luis Bonfá - Saudade Vem Correndo
The sample appears at 0:55 & 2:04

Runnin’ was produced by the now-late legendary producer J Dilla who is also considered the Greatest Hip-Hop producer of all time by the vast majority of Hip-Hop enthusiasts. He was mostly known for his unusual drum patterns, unorthodox use of jazz music, and especially his use of swing. He had the ability to take any sample and add convert it into a Hip-Hop form. This is evident in his genius use of the Jazzy sample from Saudade Vem Correndo by Stan Getz and Luis Bonfá and changing the mood into something completely different in Runnin’ by The Pharcyde.

All the songs mentioned above are the most famous examples of genius use of samples in Hip-Hop and are just the tip of the Iceberg when it comes to the Art of Sampling. Sampling has taken the forefront in the Hip-Hop scene throughout the years and has become more prominent in the landscape of Hip-Hop where as of now artists are sampling music from a vast variety of genres as well as from TV Shows. Sampling has slowly been earning its spot as one of the genius forms of Art in the modern Music Landscape, especially in Hip-Hop.

By: OshanWick


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