Saturday, February 5, 2011

Documentary----"Copyright Criminals"

     "Copyright Criminals" is a documentary I viewed a few years ago on PBS, and I was mesmerized by the subject matter that was covered in the film.  This film traced the lineage of sampling in the hip hop arena, telling a story on both sides of the proverbial sampling fence.

Sam-ple [sa'mp'l] :  a piece of recorded sound or a musical phrase taken from an existing recording, especially in digital form, and used as part of a new recording

As someone who has utilized the art of sampling on various levels in the past, I know and understand the dynamics behind this topic.  Opponents of sampling (and basically hip hop music) will say that it is stealing, but the concept is much, much deeper.  Truth be told, no ideas are original, at least from a general or generic standpoint.  Most "new" ideas are nothing more that reinterpretations of something that a person may have encountered or been influenced by.  Opposition will also make a point that sample-laden (coded language for hip hop) music is not "real" music.  I challenge a traditional musician to embark on the journey of digging in the crates, searching for the proper samples, utilizing samplers and other production equipment, and constructing a sensible, dope creation.  To me, the instruments are different, but the end result is an aural piece of artistry.  I see someone such as a Pete Rock or 9th Wonder as putting pieces of a hip hop jigsaw puzzle together, making the picture become visible (or in this case audible).  Not only are Pete Rock and 9th Wonder considered by me to be some of the best hip hop producers that showcase talents in the sampling arena, but others such as DJ Premier, Khrysis, Black Milk, Alchemist, Kev Brown, Oddissee, 88-Keys are keeping the tradition alive.  Prior to these dynamic producers, Marley Marl, Mark The 45 King, Howie Tee, Ced Gee paved the way by manipulating SP-1200's and other sampling devices to great effect.  To me, there is nothing better than finding an obscure album during a record hunt, sitting down, playing song after song in its entirety, and coming across a snippet or portion perfect for sampling.  Now when I say perfect for sampling, I don't mean in the case of a blatant "You Can't Touch This" type of sample, because I don't see too much creativity in rhyming over the entire beat of another song.  In its truest and purest sense, a sampled creation is making something new from other items, in much the same way the art world will give praise to Andy Warhol utilizing posters and advertisements in a new form.  There lies the double-standard, because in the art world, Andy Warhol was not "stealing", but reinterpreting through his artistic vision.  So to me, Pete Rock utilizes a sample like Warhol interprets Campbell's Soup art, so respect must be given to this brother and others that share that same passion.  That is why this documentary is important, because it gives voice to those that may only use their music as a speaking piece.  I will cover at a later point the finite aspects of sampling, but in the meantime view this engaging documentary, and give some honest feedback, positive or critical.  Rest in peace to MC Eyedea, who appeared in the documentary, along with his deejay Abilities.  He was an incredible emcee who will be missed in the hip hop world.



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