Press Clipping
The Return of the Sample

After a brief lull, rap hits are making creative use of old music all over again.

For decades, hip-hop was full of inventive samples, from the Chic bass line on "Rapper's Delight" to Kanye West's flips of Chaka Khan and King Crimson. But by the late 2000s, legal complications and changing tastes led to a dip in sampling. "Remember Auto-Tune?" says Deborah Mannis-Gardner, who has helped clear samples for Jay-Z and Drake as president of DMG Clearances. "Now, there's a resurgence of that Nineties style." Indeed, seven of the 10 most-streamed songs of 2018 feature prominent samples of interpolations, as do hits like Drake's "Nice for What" (based on Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor"). Swedish company Tracklib, which automates music licensing using an in-house library of 70,000 songs, aims to further this trend. "We saw an opportunity to fix something," says CEO Pär Almqvist. Others are creating new loops meant for sampling, using classically trained musicians. "Instead of having to go to the James Brown estate, [producers] call me," says Mike "Heron" Herard, whose company, BeatHustle, provided samples for Migos' "Bad and Boujee." "It's cheaper, faster - and it's original."