When you’re listening to music, most of the time you probably don’t even realise that a bunch of songs contain samples. What is a sample, you may ask? That’s when artists use bits and pieces of an already existing song to mix into their new song. It has become common practice in the music world, with sometimes songs that are almost completely based on a sample. We’re thinking about Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” here, which samples beats and lyrics from “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix A Lot.
But that doesn’t mean sampling is a bad thing. The last few years there has been a new way of sampling. Many artists started using samples of their own songs on new records. But a trend that has exploded, is using pieces of viral video’s. Chances are that you have been listening to a song that contains that one Vine (yeah I know, it’s dead) you think is hilarious. So let’s dig in deeper on two artists that have mastered the art of sampling.
Beyoncé runs the sample world
She’s not only Queen B, she’s also Queen of samples. Many people actually don’t know that her hit-song ‘Run The World’ is pretty much one big sample. Just have a listen to Major Lazer’s ‘Pon De Floor’ below.
Bey made sure to also use some samples on her latest record Lemonade. On ‘Hold Up’ she recycles a 50-year old song by Andy Williams. Click here to have a listen. But one of the more surprising samples is used on ‘Formation’. This track spoke about a lot of cultural and social problems in the United States, like the Black Lives Matters movement. If you’ve watched the music video countless times like I did, you probably know the line “What happened at the New Orleans?”. But many don’t know this is the voice of Messy Mya, a YouTube sensation that was murdered in 2010. It’s a very tragic story which blends well into the conversation that Beyoncé wants to have with ‘Formation’.
Kanye Samples West
You either like him, or you don’t, but when it comes to samples Kanye West is undeniably a pure genius. His latest record ‘The Life Of Pablo’ is filled to the brim with samples, and nobody can do it like he can.
Little 4-year old Natalie is praying for all of us. She don’t want no devils in the house, she wants the lord! If you’re familiar with Ye’s work, you will instantly know on which song this is featured. If you don’t, have a listen to ‘Ultralight Beam’ and listen to Natalie’s prayers below.
The much debated song ‘Famous’ about that bitch Taylor Swift also contains some samples. It prominently features Nina Simone’s ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ (click) and Sister Nancy’s ‘Bam Bam’ (click). But I could go on and on about samples used by Pablo, because there are just so many.
What about samples?
What are the rules on sampling? Well, they are not very clear. There have been many legal battles before. And it’s open for discussion whether it’s very creative to use them or not. I’ve given some examples, it’s up to you to decide if you like how they are used. But the simple fact is, artists will never stop sampling. To top it all off, I have this last one used on Drake’s ‘One Dance’.