To be honest, once I finished the To Pimp A Butterflycredits investigation, I felt a little empty. I had spent the last 72 hours consumed by the album, living and breathing Kendrick, that I forgot that music was even a thing. Plus, I know it sounds ridiculous, but those investigations really do melt my brain. Just because I may or may not have been wearing pants while conducting them doesn't take away from the fact that they are tedious and so extensive. Truthfully, my brain is mush right now. I couldn't give you a think piece if Kanye, Jay Elec, Dr. Dre, and Taylor Swift all dropped an album at the same time. I need something that will cleanse my pallet and leave me refreshed. I need a rejuvenating rap power nap. I need to nerd out about some samples. No matter how tired I am, I can always nerd out on some samples because sampling is the greatest.
You know how they say, "When you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone they have ever slept with"? Well, if you are sampling a song, you are also sampling every song that song has sampled. I love taking one song and seeing how many connections you can make, following the sample as far as it'll take you. You'll be amazed at some of the connections you can make.
So lets kick things off with Kendrick because, duh, what the hell else do you start with this week? Specifically, let's select "i," which contins the most famous flip from his new album, a sample of the Isley Brothers classic "Who's That Lady."
We all knew about the sample. But did you also know that "Who'sThat Lady" is sampled on "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" from the Beastie Boys? (4:15 mark)
While I was waiting for the "Who's That Lady" flip, I heard a sound that's been branded into my brain. You know how when you smell something, it can take you back to a specific time or place instantly? Well, when I hear that hollow, echoed scratching, at the ten second mark, The Pharcyde's "Passin My By" comes to mind.
Turns out, both songs utilize Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced." I'm pretty blown away actually, as I'm a huge Jimi Hendrix fan and I love Pharcyde, but I never put two and two together. That ability to disguise a sample, to blend it so well, that you don't even think about it is reason #7,067 why sampling is amazing.
Technically, "Are You Experienced" is sampled on "Passing Me By," but really the sample that makes the classic cut go is Quincy Jones', Valerie Simpson featured effort "Summer in the City."
Yo, that tune is the jumpoff like a diving board. Truth be told, I never actually listened to the original. To me that beat has always been "Passin Me By." It's insane how you can go through life identifying a certain sound with a song or group and then, in one fell swoop, find out it's a sample and has a completely different beat etymology. Anyways, as much as I'd love to just sit, roll up a J, and bump this Quincy Jones jam, I gotta keep moving...but...it's just so good. Okay, I'll meet myself half way. I'll settle for the original "Summer In the City"--Quincy's version was just a cover--courtesy of The Lovin' Spoonful.
As you can imagine, that cut has a ton of samples, but most of them are replayed lyric samples; that "hot town summer in the city" line is, well, hot. Case in point, from Method Man to De La Soul. Using those examples kind of feels like cheating, so let's go with a "Summer In The City" that samples more than just one line. How about Chamillionaire's "Internet Thugs Attack"?
Hey, Chamillionaire, nice beat! Only problem is that IT'S NOT YOURS! In this case the Houston emcee-turned-entrepreneur simply stole EOM's beat from Wax's "Summer In the City."
You know how I know he stole it? I interviewed EOM about it. Basically, someone sent Chamillionaire EOM's beat and Cham used it without crediting, or even knowing it was EOM's beat. I can't really blame him, that shit cracks like an old sidewalk.
Unfortunately that's where this trail ends. There were a million other routes to go--it's like a choose your own adventure book for samples--but I'm not too sad about it because I just linked "i" to a song I did an interview about. Basically, I deserve a credit on "i."Well, shit, that was really fun. Maybe it's just me, but tracing the lineage of a sample is fascinating. To hear the million different ways something was flipped and to watch the ripples it causes is truly incredible. Sampling is the greatest.
Did I mention fuck Michael McDonald?
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]