Friday, January 7, 2011

Beat Pirates

Since the landmark case of De La Soul vs. The Turtles hip hop producers and labels have been forced to take responsibility for clearing samples. Advocates argue that sampling is an artform that takes only bits & peices of music to put together a completely different sound. However this point is hard to defend when such artists as P Diddy have completely ignored this technique and resorted to stringing together 4 and 8 bar loops as a way of producing a track. In this regard the method of sampling could easily be perceived as out right theivery.
So in post modern times sampling has become regulated. No more would major labels consider releasing anything without proper sample clearance. This new precedence pushed a lot of producers to cut down on samples and incorporate more keyboard plug-ins and live studio musicians. A radical departure from the collage of breaks that once defined the intensity of the street sound. For some, hip hop music was losing it's atittude.
In the current age of the internet all regulations on music seem to have vanished. The concerns of uncleared samples have fallen by the waist side. More worried about a shrinking market which chooses to share files instead of paying for legal downloads, the industry's focus has shifted. However, for artists and indie labels, a level playing field has been created to compete in what is left of a dying market.
This has taken a lot of pressure off of the technique of sampling. A resurgence of beats have come out in the last decade with no regard to copyright law. However liberating this may be, it does not protect producers who sample from being prosecuted. Taking large chunks of somone else's music without permission and selling it is still a crime. For this reason pop music's biggest producers and labels continue to pay copyright fees while indie labels and artists hide in the underground pockets of the internet.
As a beat maker and hip hop producer I support the law. Those producers who have gotten over on using a loop and credited for being innovators should pay the source of there samples. Most people who are ignorent to sampling and don't recognize the song being used will never judge an artist or producer this way. But those who are hip to the game will automatically catch it and question the creativity of the track. The threat of copyright has to be a part of the mix, it keeps the producer from being lazy. There are plenty of programs out there to munipulate and disect samples in a variety of different ways. Sampling is a tool to create sounds. Paying for samples is a cop out. If your methods and beats are tight it shouldn't be an issue. I compare it to graffiti. With risk comes passion and that's what art is all about.
Peace & vinyl!



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