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Liner Notes: Sampling other songs

Anna Taylor

Sometimes I listen to rap and hip-hop. It might not be my go-to for easy listening but I do occasionally enjoy hearing a good beat, not to mention it’s great for motivation.

If there is one thing I’ve noticed about rap over the years, though, it’s that half of the music is not actually creative or even original. The lyrics might be original but the music we hear is often sampled from other songs that have already been released as singles themselves.

Flo Rida is one of the most guilty artists of taking other songs, giving them a modern update and throwing some ambiguous sexual innuendos on them. In other words, he seems to enjoy sampling from other artist’s songs.

The most recent song of his that takes from parts of another song is “Good Feeling.” This song uses a beat that Aviccii created called “Levels.” Both the Aviccii and Flo Rida songs sample from Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold of Me.”

He also has several other songs that his fans probably don’t realize were taken from some past hit songs. “Elevator” samples Bruce Springsteen’s “Prove It All Night,” “In the Ayer” samples Pretty Tony’s “Jam the Box,” “Right Round” samples from “You Spin Me Round” by Dead or Alive and “Sugar” samples from Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee).” That’s half the length of an album that he could have released of potentially stolen music.

Even his name isn’t original. The rapper took the state of Florida and put a space in the center. I digress.

As much as I could continue talking about his professional faults, there are other rappers who like to take the easy way out, too.

Kanye West had a huge single in 2007 called “Stronger.” We even used that song as a warm-up tune for basketball season. I still really like this song today because of the beat. If you remove Kanye from the song, you have an updated version of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” – which is the entire hook of “Stronger.”

Kanye also samples with his single “Power,” which borrows from Continent Number 6’s “Afromerica.”

Chris Brown released a single titled “She Ain’t You” last year. The song not only sampled from Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” but also from SWV’s “Right Here.”

Kid Cudi is another rapper who samples. He used Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” in his single “Make Her Say.”

Jason DeRulo’s “Whatcha Say” borrows from Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” which was already a fantastic song, but maybe that’s the point.

I understand why they do it: it’s less work for them and if the songs they sample from were hits the first time, odds are good they will be again.

As students and journalists we learn not to plagiarize or steal someone else’s work and use it as our own.

I’ll just assume that these artists get the proper permission and don’t violate any copyright laws from the songs from which they take.

Column by Anna Taylor, Features Editor.