Home Showbiz The art of sampling in music: Dispelling myths and celebrating creativity

The art of sampling in music: Dispelling myths and celebrating creativity


The practice of sampling in music has existed since the 1900s and has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Sampling involves reusing a portion of a sound in another recording, which can encompass elements like rhythm, melody, speech, sound effects, or extended segments of music, often adjusted or manipulated in various ways.

Sampling holds a significant role in music as an effective means to preserve historical legacies in the music world. Notably, the genre of Hip-hop has historically featured the most extensive use of samples in Western culture, making it quite common to encounter sampled sounds.

However, in Africa, particularly in Ghana, the act of sampling is often referred to as “copying” or, at its harshest, “stealing” another artist’s sounds.

I took it upon myself to examine what constitutes a sample and, most importantly, who is responsible for sampling records. The intention behind this exploration is to dispel ignorance and foster appreciation for these practices within our music industry.

One of the primary challenges we face in our creative industry, and indeed the broader music world, is ignorance. Many individuals do not grasp the intricacies of the game. So, let’s set aside these issues and get educated now!

It should be emphatically stated that there is nothing inherently wrong with an artist sampling another artist’s work or record, provided that the artist has followed the proper procedures and legitimately acquired permission from the original owner to use the sound.

My motivation for delving into this topic was sparked by listening to Burna Boy’s track “City Boys” from his latest album, which contained a sample from the song “Birthday Sex” by Jeremih. In an interview with Complex Studios and Speed, Burna Boy mentioned that he initially didn’t realize the instrumental had been sampled. While we can’t confirm whether he was truthful or not, I can understand his position because the beat was so catchy and seamlessly integrated.

On the first listen, the sample might not be apparent, but with continued exposure to the song, he should have noticed, and the producer could have informed him.

This observation led me to the realization that many samples are often introduced by the producers themselves. Of course, artists can request a specific sample, as seen in the case of Drake and Obrafuor, but it’s more likely that the creative initiative comes from the producers. It’s important to acknowledge that producers are also inspired, much like artists, to create music.

It’s crucial for the public to understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a sample, as long as the artist has gone through the necessary legal processes and properly credited the original creators. Moreover, the originators of the sampled work are entitled to a percentage of the revenue generated from the sampled composition.

Ultimately, it’s essential for music enthusiasts to perceive music as an art form, a spiritual expression, and not automatically label every sample as a stolen or copied work.

By Cyril Senason Anani|3xtra.tv|Ghana

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