This is a documentary that took place in a golden time in our culture’s history. That’s right: THE LATE 80s…
Why am I so frustrated? Scroll below the video to hear a vicious rant about the 80s. You’ll understand ;)
Sampling was still not technically off-limits, and artist such as the Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Coldcut, and Public Enemy were sampling, during a time period that is now considered the ‘Golden Age’ of hip hop.
But, whether you like what they said in the documentary or not, and though the debate still… ‘technically’ goes on today (though to a much more minor extent) what happened around this time period REALLY DID affect how people would make music. I say do what you want, and if you get sued, you must be making waves, right? Then, pay the fee, if it’s worth it, or just replace the sample with a different one, or whatever, and move on. That’s just my opinion, though. I’m not telling you that this route is the one you “should” be taking…
But, I wanted to highlight this documentary because I feel like sampling needs to come back into fashion.
You might say, “Oh, Will, what the fuck? Isn’t it still big?”
To which I will respond, “First of all, don’t curse at me… and second of all, no, I don’t think it’s as big as it once was.”
Underground artists sample a lot more than big name artists, though… But usually, when someone puts their own take on someone else’s track, it’s a “remix” of that track, and not a whole new song based on a three second sample. Boring! Fucking SUPER-BORING! Why not just sample something, and then cover it up, if you’re so afraid of getting sued?
There are actually different ways to do it. You typically won’t have to pay as much if you’re expecting to sell far fewer copies of your music, if you are indeed trying to clear the sample. Obviously, every song is different, and to really understand how much you’ll have to pay, you have to look up a specific song for yourself.
But all I’m saying is, artists should sample more. Why not? It’s fun as hell, and it goes along with the folk-paradigm that involves the ancient tradition of borrowing music and reinterpreting it, as opposed to the copyright-paradigm (or copyright-era) of the last century, where every song is supposed to be an island unto itself, as far as taking influence directly from other prerecorded songs.
I would even go so far as to say that sampling not only stays in tune with the ‘borrowing’ aspect of the world music tradition of the last ten thousand years, but that it’s actually just an updated form of it, as recording equipment has become a lot cheaper and accessible. Not a radical opinion. Sampling is natural. It’s an organic step in our evolution of technology and culture.
So, without further ado, here’s the documentary…
Also, watch for the really awful sampling endeavor involving Janet Jackson ruining a Sly & The Family tune. Once you realize she’s sampling him, you might just cringe. I did.
It isn’t frustrating ONLY because the documentary ends on a “sampling should be payed for, it’s just logical,” note.. but mainly because I can’t stand almost any of the people in this video, with the exception of some of the musicians. My goodness, the clothes were awful. I could honestly write a 300 page book (and cite tons of examples) and how ugly people looked in 1988. Seriously, what was the deal with that time period? What was the aesthetic they were going for? I know when grunge music hit, people ‘stopped trying’ as hard to look good, but.. honestly, I don’t think they were really trying that hard in the first place, in the five or ten year period before grunge. I mean, come on. Look at some of the folks in this documentary. You’re telling me people had to ‘stop trying’ just to look better than they did in 1988? Oh my damn, what an awful time period in fashion history. Ok, that’s enough ranting from me. Enjoy this documentary..