Sampling, Borrowing, Stealing

When listening to music I would occasionally point out a part of a popular song that I had heard beat for beat in another song. Immediately my head would go to that song and I never quite understood how with all of the copyright laws in place for music how these artists and recording companies were not getting in trouble for the use of these easily identifiable beats and sounds. However, today I came to understand this somewhat through learning about the concept of sampling. The way I understand it, sampling is taking bits and pieces from previously produced pieces of music and using them in your own song, which is totally fine. Even though this is totally fine I’m finding it quite unsettling to find out that the music our culture has grown to love and sings loudly in the car is actually so unoriginal and reused and we have no idea.

Thinking about how this concept of sampling uses even pieces of songs from decades ago makes it pretty darn cool to think about how different pieces of songs from the years my parents were growing up and songs they loved are present in the music I grew up listening to. I think its really cool to think about but I’m also really bothered by this idea. It creates a lineage between the different types and generations of music which his amazing but it also takes the need for creativity off of the table. Many of the Hip Hop and popular artists today have 50+ pages of samples that they have taken from other artists sometimes from different artists to put in the same one of their songs. It makes me wonder why they didn’t just come up with their own ideas and thoughts instead of stealing someone else’s successful works and beats.

Upon exploring “Who Sampled” it wasn’t hard to tell that the more current the artist was the more samples their music used, especially in the Pop, Hip Hop, and Rap categories. if you searched a artist from the 50’s and 60’s like Elvis or Johnny Cash you were lucky to find a sample, they weren’t used and didn’t have to be used because these artists were still being creative and making music that was entirely their own. I can only imagine the power music would have if it went back to its roots of creativity and artists that would come up with their own ideas for sounds and beats.


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