The history of sampling is rife with controversy, but now that we all know you need to give credit where credit is due, we can look at sampling as the art form it truly is. A sampled song could be as simple as a repeating bass line, or dozens of clips and sounds taken from different records, stacked into one amazing track. A perfect sample, when well executed, is a thing of beauty, and redesigns the auditory landscape of the original into something new and inspired.
Groove is in the Heart, Deee-Lite (1990) with Bringing Down the Birds, Herbie Hancock (1966)
“Groove Is In the Heart” is a perfectly sampled homage to the Herbie Hancock original and a beautiful piece of dance music. It has gotten better with age, and honestly, the whole album is a pretty fun listen. “Bringing Down the Bird” has also been filed into my mental soundtrack archive to be pulled to mind the next time I want to walk down the street like I’m the most funky piece of ass on it.
Gangsta’s Paradise, Coolio (1995) with Pastime Paradise, Stevie Wonder (1976)
Fuck, I really love this song. It propels me into that white-person phenomenon where I involuntarily wave my arms around while I rap oh-so-hardcore lyrics, not unlike like the guy from Office Space (minus the paranoid door locking). Coolio focuses the most poignant parts of “Gangsta’s Paradise” over the most powerful pieces of “Pastime Paradise” showing obvious appreciation for the original, and in doing so takes it up in intensity. I don’t make this statement lightly, (I have well established my love of everything Stevie Wonder) but I do believe that Coolio actually improved upon the original.
It Was A Good Day, Ice-Cube (1993) with Footsteps in the Dark, The Isely Brothers (1977)
Ice-Cube totally transformed a sexy slow-jam into one of my favorite hip-hop songs of all time. Though vastly different from any day I have ever had, “It Was A Good Day” is relatable, and brings out the inner thug in all of us. It’s heavy and serious, but ultimately it’s about a good day in South Central, and Ice-Cube is obviously an optimist, so we get lines like “drunk as hell but no throwing up,” and the infamous “I didn’t even have to use my AK.” All totally positive things, right?
Egg Man, Beastie Boys (1989) with Superfly, Curtis Mayfield (1972)
The Beastie Boys are the kings of the sample. As I scrolled through their catalog, I was struck by the sheer volume of music they must consume building songs. They sample records across genres and decades. “Egg Man” alone samples 10 different songs, spanning from 1960 to 1987, including the music from the shower scene in Psycho patched together with the Theme from Jaws. They even sample themselves. What that says is that the 3 boys from Brooklyn are serious about thier music, true life connoisseurs. Last week I just liked the Beastie Boys. As of this week I am completely in love.