The Debate About Posting Sample Sources Online

There’s a war going on outside, or rather ummm… inside… between Madlib and the Internet. Seems as if the prolific producer caught wind of ThisIsHipHop listing the sample sources for the Madvillainy album and reached out for them to be taken down. Apparently, Madlib’s message said something like,

“Pages like this on the internet are no help at all to people like Doom, Madlib, and those that work with them.”

Already there’s a debate going on about whether or not Madlib is fussing over nothing, or if sites that list samples really are hurting the producers and artists who create these tracks. Kevin Nottingham, the site’s owner, did in fact take the post down. But he defends what he did by saying:

“In an age where you can pretty much find anything on the Internet, I don’t think this information is too hard to find; I’m just putting it all in one place.”

Myself, I’m kind of towing the line on how I feel about the situation, because I definitely see both sides of the coin. Guys like Madlib have made their career on hunting for and then flipping samples that most people would otherwise just skip right past. And while I do think listing the sources that he’s sampled is a means of honoring his work, it may in fact be detrimental to the guy’s career. Madlib’s whole aura is built off of this idea that he’s mining sample sources that others wouldn’t. By listing what he’s sampling, you’re sort of taking the mystique out of what it is he does, showing the cards in his hands, if you will. Also, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for some publishing company who owned the rights to the material that’s being sampled to find your list of samples online and actually come knocking for some royalties. It’s not like these albums make NO money. Everyone wants their cut. Plus that whole idea of showing the cards devalues what it is that producer does.

Of course sample-based producers have been sort of bitching and moaning about this sort of thing since the 90s, when sample compilations started turning up on vinyl everywhere, listing who sampled what and everything. I think at this point these guys just have to deal with the fact that the internet is this well of information, and if people can expose what someone else is doing- whether it’s in appreciation of their art or to tear them down- it’s going to happen regardless. So fighting it, or asking people to take down these lists is futile, at least in my opinion. When you’ve got sites like The-Breaks.com providing an encyclopedic-style database of samples, and they’ve been doing this since like forever, it seems kind of pointless. I think, if anything, these sites help more than hurt, just from a buzz factor alone. The reality is, someone is talking about you somewhere. They’re that interested in you and your work that they’d take time out of their life to not do some other shit (eating, sleeping, watching pr0n) but analyze and dissect what is you do as a creative entity. If that isn’t an ego stroke, I don’t know what is.

Final thought: The people who make these sample lists should use their discretion when posting them, because putting it out there for the world to see may actually sap the creative energy which inspires producers like Madlib to dig so deep in the crates and make such great music in the first place. And producers, just like the rest of the music industry, need to be real with themselvees and realize that the internet is an uncontrollable force and you will get exposed from time to time. It’s just the era we’re living in. Nothing is sacred. Not even samples.

  • http://www.rockthedub.com khal

    while i hear you, i disagree on the whole “sapping madlib’s juices” [II?] comment(s). I mean, that’s kind of like saying that “hey kid, you TOO can be madlib, all you need is some skunk and this record he sampled”. the beauty of guys like madlib, doom, j dilla, primo and others is that, regardless of if you fucking OWN the record they sampled, its not just “oh i used this loop”. it’s the spin they put on it. i forget the name of the original song primo used to create “kick in the door”, but not too many people listening to that would think “damn, let me take this one part, loop a section then REPEAT THIS PART, and put it to some tight drums”… the producer’s own creativity is just as necessary as the sample.

    i mean, when i read posts like this, i kind of think “damn, ok, with a MPC and a basement full of records, i could make ‘madvillainy’?”… that thinking diminishes madlib’s work just as much as you guys saying a list of used samples does.

    just something to think on

  • KQ

    “niggaz is violatin’. straight up and down!”
    dj premier

    why do other poeple need to know what madlib used on a record anyway? find your own samples. be original. listing samples your favourite artist used is just asking for them to be sued for not getting permission. if he had to get clearance for every sample, madlib would not release anoth records again. the people who make these lists need to look at the bigger picture and think about the consequences of their snitching.

  • Ivan

    your a dork IVAN.

  • Burnout

    Madlib is one the fucking greatest record producers of all time in my eyes (along with Dilla, Dre, Primo & RZA, in no particular order) and it is motherfuckers like them who are undoubtedly a gift to hip-hop. Give credit where credit is due and let them work their magic behind the boards.

  • http://galacticmysterysolvers.blogspot.com Ass Hat

    if your appreciation of madlib is based on the ‘mystique’ of his crate-digging, don’t download the sample set! avert your ears! he’s still the one that dug them out and worked out how to fit them round a new tune. for me, the sample sets make me admire the producers all the more. but if they spoil your experience, nobody’s forcing you to listen.

  • Yo

    Much ado about nothing. Samples are still other people’s work being used. If you really want to be proud about something, make up your own shit. Not listing the work of other people is like not giving the proper credit to the people who originally created it.

  • http://www.myspace.com/akhilthebrownwonda BrownWonda

    I thought u were a producer scratch?
    u should kno better

    i personally dont like to share samples, but I dont mind if other people recognize it and use it, because they wouldnt be able to replicate my beat. You could show the same record to two producers and get two COMPLETELY different beats because they interpreted it in different ways

    in respect to madlib, lighten up a little, yea id be a little pissed, but its not like those guys r guna steal any of ur shine,

    • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack

      I agree. I think it allows producers to be more creative. Face the fact that everything is going digital anyway. So why fight it?

  • Mad bitterisizm disease (sample producerz)

    Finally a real topic!!!

    I hear and respect you producers who sample other peoples music, but not as much as a producer who writes his/her own notes. I’m from tha old sckool, and was there the first rap song was played on radio (9yrs old @ the time).
    Well anyway, I also remember when samples of old sckool R&B hooks mixed in with new rap beats began to flood the airwaves. It never crossed my mind that the producer wanted to take credit for the beat as if it were his/her own. Nor did it cross my mind to use the same sample if I knew the original music. What bothers me is the attitude this sample driven producer has about someone listing the original song that this fresh new beat came from.
    It has been a complaint from my mother, and most of her generation that the hip-hop generation is stealing from her generation. She always says 2 me when we here a new rap/hip-hop song, and she knows the original music,

    “Go get your own music, and stop messing up these classic albums!”

    She really diggs them, but just loves 2 mess with me about this subject. I on the other hand see it as paying homage to her generation as the real deal to making original music, and how we love it sooo much that we(the producer) wants to share it with the hip-hop generation. who under current circumstances would not seek out or listen to said original score for sampled new song

    My local radio station(kmel) DJ’s Big Von, Scotty Foxx, Chuy Gomez, have a segment where they play the hottest song out, and the original score immediately after the new track so you young as whipper snappers(Audience) can know some history and not believe that this is new music, or that today’s sample driven DJ’s are creative in mixxing and looping, but not in writing original music.

    So, in conclusion stop whining about whatever website is posting the original score to your sampled(Can’t say this enough)song. Where your true talent is in your skill at “Diggin in tha Crates!”

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeusX

    Personally, I think Madlib and Primo’s argument is and has always been utter bullshit. Who cares if I know you used an obscure Average White Band sample from a ’76 European important album? It’s always sounded to me like they don’t want to be caught by some record label sampling somebody else’s shit they didn’t pay for.

    Personaly, if I hear a song with a great sample, I sometimes want to know what sample it is so I can cop the song for my own pleasure. Which ONLY helps long and forgotten artists.

    In short, Madlib needs to stop his bitchin’. He’s violating straight up and down.

  • Gooch

    some of you don’t know how to read, or just infer all the wrong shit from the words on the screen. Ah well, such is life.

    • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack

      LOL. U DID UR THING WITH THIS ENTRY THO. KEEP IT UP. I LOVE SHIT LIKE THIS.

  • ApexPredator

    I think a couple of you all hit the nail on the head already. It is a sample, it is someone else’s music. Not to say that producers aren’t talented or innovative or real musicians, regardless it comes from somebody else’s music. I don’t care if it is an obscure record, there is nothing unethical about posting the origins of a beat. I know you weren’t agreeing with Madlib per se, but I think his argument is silly and childish. People have the right to hear the original record. I think Madlib is solely worried about the original artists finding out and wanting a cut of the money, which they deserve.

  • avengerxl

    F madlib on this one. Who cares if some cats know your samples nigga you didn’t make those songs and this is the nature of the game. Stop bitching and keep smoking your weed it is not license free music you are chopping it belonged to another artist and you did your thing with it. What if everyone said stop sampling my shit would you learn to play and make your own. leave this stupid perception of owning a stolen loop in alone. Your skill is a remixing and reimagining ear and mind. Knowing were it comes from expands the mind of your listner and possibly creates more fans for your work. casual listeners don’t give a fuck where shit comes from. Be glad some one gives enough of a fuck about your little shit to list the samples (I for one find it boring as shit) and perfer the originals. Sorry MAdlib Stans

  • xpgno

    Damn yall are stupid. Madlib didn’t do this shit so people “would’t find out about his samples,” he did it cause he didn’t want his album pulled from the shelves cause of unlicensed samples. Of course, this is also kinda stupid, because EVERY SAMPLE IS POSTED ON WIKIPEDIA! So if anyone wanted to know the samples on Madvillainy, they wouldn’t have to look very far.

  • Geeflex

    I would have thought you would have considered Weezy’s Lollipop a post-bounce masterpiece[||](that’s a big pause), but to each their own.

  • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack

    CLICK MY NAME TO CHECK OUT MY BLOG ON THIS SUBJECT.

  • ri067953

    Yo, artist who disagree with giving sample credits are retarded. First of all, they didn’t create the music that was sampled, so why not give credit to the original artist who did and let them get some shine. I know for sure that I have been turned on to a lot of music because I of samples and it is only right that the original artist get some money and fame for creating great music.

  • Double-0

    It come down to money dumb dummies…. to clear samples on a record like ghostface or jay does it is probably over $100k if not more… You think madlib is gonna clear every sample he uses if he will only sell 20k units? and for the most part he’ll go under the radar with clearning houses at those low numbers… but if someone posts that shit up then he can be liable to pay out a whole shitload more than he will make…

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  • 80′s baby

    i was on the fence about this…but it is inevitable…Hip-Hop is becoming more accessible…anyone can make beats,rap,dj,and record with little to no talent…cats selling beats for 5 dollars…niggas putting out mixtapes recorded over radio-shack mics…Myspace..rappers carbon-copiyng anything thats hot on the radio…but what can you do about it…nothing…it’s going to only get worse…you just gotta step your game up…real is going to recognize real(in most instances)

    as far as Kevin Knot’s site goes…he’s trying to reel people in…CONTENT IS KING NOWADAYS…he would probably show you a hidden video of Madlib making a beat if he could…and could you blame him…there are no rules anymore.

    Let the Free-4-all continue

    good article…best one yet Gooch

  • http://marredecettepoque.com who

    la liberté s’oppose à la propriété intellectuelle de la musique .

    égalité et anarchie !

    hip hop francophone aussi

  • http://www.myspace.com/dasinsation DASINSASION

    My personal opinion is that credit should be given to the originator of the sound. Interpolations and remakes show the beat-maker had the talent to remake the music but sampling is TAKING someone elses work and making it yours. I am guilty of doing it but subconsciously I know it is not right if credit is not given to the original artist/musicians.
    The lists I have seen seem to be in total admiration of the beat-maker for finding such rare samples, but if someone else recognizes the sample then the sample is not as rare as the beat-maker thought and that damages their ego slightly. Whether its listed or not, its still hott, and I respect a track more if I hear how someone flipped the sample and not just looping it but making something totally “original” out of it.

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