“Caught, now in court cause I stole a beat
This is a sampling sport”
– Public Enemy – “Caught, Can We Get A Witness?”
When it comes to sampling and turntablism in regards to music, I am pretty much clueless. However I feel that both of these art forms are often neglected and given negative connotations as either “stealing” or “noise”. If you are remotely interested in either sampling or turntabling, I recommend watching the documentary “Scratch“.
Some people refer to scratching as merely noise due to a dj dragging a record against a needle to make sound or noise. As well they may say all it really takes to do is a person to turn a record. In regards to this, isn’t drumming just hitting something? There is more to these arts then just simple body movements. Some DJs and turntablists are able to take a single sample of an instrument and through various scratching techniques make it sound like this single instrument is playing a more complex piece. For an awesome example and video of this check out Kid Koala – Drunk Trumpet.
Sampling sometimes has the negative connation of “stealing” due to dj’s taking pieces or samples from other musician’s music. However look at a musician like DJ Shadow who’s album “Endtroducing…” is built around samples and uses them merely as building blocks in creating a song that is uniquely different from the artists who he sampled from. DJ Spooky has an interesting view on sampling in saying that songs which use many samples form kind of a network between songs and/or genres which may not have existed before.
To illustrate an example of this I am going to choose a song from, in my opinion, one of the greatest rap albums of all time: Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”. The song I am choosing is “She Watch Channel Zero“. According to Wikipedia the samples that are listed (and known) for this song are:
In this respect, “She Watch Channel Zero” acts as a connector between Slayer’s “Angel of Death” and (the often sampled) “Funky Drummer” by James Brown. This in a sense makes “She Watch Channel Zero” an amalgamation of a thrash metal song and a funk song. Although this is a simple example consisting of two samples it helps to show how sampling can be viewed, in a sociological-like sense, as a bridge between two different musical genres that appear to share little in common.