The sample clearance process is often confusing and expensive. Case in point: Redman spent nine grand to clear a James Brown sample for his upcoming, long-delayed new album, Muddy Waters Too.
"For example, I got a record from Erick Sermon, and I used a James Brown sample," he told HipHopDX. "Matter fact, the same one Chuck D used for 'Welcome To The Terrordome.' I used that; nine grand, and it took me like a month or so to ease that down to a certain amount."
Redman doesn't specify which James Brown record Sermon had to clear, but there are a total of five Brown records that are sampled on Public Enemy's 1989 single, "Welcome to the Terrordome," including: "Cold Sweat," "Soul Power," "Give It Up or Turn It Loose," "Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved," and "I Got to Move."
Nine grand may sound like a lot to spend on the clearance process, but other artists have spent far more to clear their samples. For example, Danny Brown spent 70 thousand dollars to clear samples for Atrocity Exhibition. Meanwhile, once upon a time, Mac Miller got the sample for "Donald Trump" for free. There are several sides to this sample coin, and all of them are a little confusing. For those curious, this is overall how sample clearances work.
The important note here is to always clear your samples—even if you are releasing the music "for free"—because you never know when the lawyer for a publishing company will come collecting, and you wouldn't want the music to suffer as a result of negligence.