At Hip-Hop is Read, an entry was recently posted about Madlib (one of my favorite producers) requesting that a sample set (a compilation cd featuring the songs sampled by a DJ) for some of his work be taken down.
I found this subject to be very interesting given that I’m a huge fan of sample sets.
Here’s how I understand both sides:
On the one hand, fans such as myself, who like sample sets argue:
People who have listened to these rap albums want to dig deeper into the record. After listening to the sample set, a rap record can be heard with a more profound appreciation and understanding.
Once a record is sampled, it is essentially not available for reuse. In Hip-hop, flagrantly reusing the same samples repeatedly is frowned upon. This means that fears about the creativity being sucked out of the genre as a result of sample sets are largely illegitimate.
Sample sets also help novice producers see how experts like Madlib, RZA, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier construct beats.
On the other hand, producers such as Madlib, argue:
Hip-hop music has used illicit samples for ages. Many record labels, artists, etc don’t have the resources to clear all of the samples used, and when sample sets are put online for anyone to see, that opens up the floodgates to myriad legal issues that are costly.
Given the illegal nature of the usage of samples, making sample sets is akin to blogging the names, addresses, quality and prices of one’s favorite drug dealers because that person loves the product so much that “the public has to know.”
Another issue related to this is whether DJs should bother using samples they haven’t cleared in the first place. In this day and age, information is so widespread that litigous individuals and groups can make life miserable for those who sample music without the proper authorization. Perhaps DJs may have to change their ways because fans do not seem to care about the honor code of keeping samples quiet.
The debate goes on…