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Hip hop sampling

Updated on October 30, 2013

What is sampling

Sampling is the technique of finding snipets of commerical records or sounds and including them into your own production. Sampling ranges from short, drum beats sounds, a few seconds of a piano loop, to whole bars of records. This is very common in hip-hop music where samples are often chosen to complement the drum and the base pattern. A good example example of sampling in modern hip hop in Kanye West as his music tends to be heavy based on samples. Other examples of more abstract sampling in the Wu-Tang Clan who were more popular in the 90's, their theme is Kung-fu and a lot of their samples came from 70's and 80's kung fu-flicks.

Many people think that people who sample are not musicians and they they are stealing music. I very much dissagree with that since I know from practical experience that sampling is an ART!!It is not easy digging through 1000's of resources trying to find a sample to match a certain beat. Even finding the approiate sample, there is the task of looping, eq-ing, compressing and other technicalities on order for the sample to blend in with your production.

Traditionaly hip hop producers have used the MPC for sampling but nowadays computer software is becoming more common.

The software recycle 2.0

The software I most recommend for people wanting to get into sampling is Recycle 2.0. Please note that the output files are read by Reason 3 or 4 so Reason software is also required.

This software reads a sampled wav file and automaticaly calculates individual sections for sampling and splits them into sections. The sensitivity can be adjusted e.g. High or picking out drum samples and low for long loop sections.

Once the sections have been defined, they can be exported into a .rex format for use within Reason. Once the samples are loaded in, on the Reason side you'll find that the samples are mapped into each key on your Midi keyboard. These samples can now be manipulated like normal instruments in Reason. See below of a video sample.

Types of sampling

Many people simply take a loop, put it on repeat and add other instruments etc. Doing it this way it is very easy to recognize the original track and therefore no way of avoiding paying royalties.

Some producers e.g. J-Dilla use to be able to disguise a sample so much that no nobody could recognize where the sample came from, thus being able to get away with not paying royalties (I'm sure he did though out of respect). You could take a very small 1-2 second of a record slow it down and loop it and it will sound completely different when played back at a different tempo with other instruments.

See below for a Slum Village track made from an unrecognizable sample.

Simple Sampling


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    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 2 years ago from Japan

      Many people use the MPC and prefer the hardware. However newer devices such as Ableton Push are worth checking out too.

    • profile image

      Collector X 2 years ago

      Nice article, I am still using an old MPC but it still does the job those. Thinking of moving over to software soon though.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

      Yeah, not many producers lile him.

    • profile image

      Daz 3 years ago

      What a musical genius Dilla was. I would never even think of using a sample like that.