Like many of you who have Spotify, on Mondays I get a 30 song playlist called “We Are Trying to Figure You Out”. The playlist is really called “Discover Weekly” and it recommends new songs based on my listening habits. I would venture that on a good week, about 30% of the songs they pick make it on one of my playlists.
The one algorithm (or is it a genre?) that is a favorite are R&B songs that weren’t huge hits BUT were sampled by songs that became hits. I love the specificity of that – kind of like getting a batch of songs that use the word “loooooooove”, instead of love.
The sampling argument is at least 40 years old and I will not rehash it. Instead of taking the side of people who say “they are trying to make music by ripping off others”, I’ll go the opposite way. R&B / Hip-Hop artists are taking parts of a song that might not get recognition and giving it new life to the original artist and enhancing the new song. Off the pedestal.
Below are my current favorite songs that have been sampled by others. So as not to spoil it (and see if you can figure out for yourself), there will be a big white space after I list the three song. Feel free to scroll down and you will find the original song it came from. I’m only listing samples I know (or think) I know. http://www.whosampled.com/ is a great place if you want to do more research.
“Think (About It)” by Lyn Collins (1972)
Lyn Collins is a great R&B singer that is most famously associated with the James Brown ecosystem of music (and that’s not a bad place to be). The famous hook comes midway through the song, but the vocals, horns, and organ work on it’s own make it a playlist staple.
“Get Up and Dance” by Freedom (1979)
The band Freedom would be the answer to the question “What if you took Kool & The Gang and Earth Wind & Fire and smushed them together?”. This song has many nuggets that have been sampled by others, some less obvious than others.
“I Got The……” by Labi Siffrey (1975)
Nothing emerges at the beginning of this song but two minutes in, it hits you right in the face. It is art the way a producer can take that riff, and create a smash out of it. And please don’t think it wasn’t integral to the song’s success. And that is not a slight in anyway to both the artist and the producer (listed below) who are world famous, and first ballot inductees in the to-be built Chiswick Radio Hall of Fame.
Scroll down to see where these great songs were used (if you didn’t know already).