major-label hip-hop shift from samples to other production techniques due to:
– expense of licensing samples
– aesthetic shift aesthetic regulation of sampling
yet increasing availability of digital sampling has expanded its uses outside the traditional hip-hop community.
– this has led hip-hop sampling stalwarts to become more militant about expressing previously unspoken values
sampling aesthetics and ethics can only be studied “from within” the community of practitioners
deejaying = live w/ turntables
producing = studio w/ digital
rejects econ/poli/soc deterministic models of aesthetic evolution (hip-hop came from people, not from culture)
initially, record labels reproduced breaks with live bands, for logistical reasons. But then sampling was invented. 1986 – first drum sampler SP-12.
Live instruments >> sampled drum hits >> sampled drum breaks >> composite breaks >> diverse sequenced samples
important ontological shift here – break becomes defined by use, not by formal origins
hip-hop producers deviated from the sampler's original function, in making them operate more like turntables social shaping of technology
JS interviews producer who cites free jazz as an aesthetic influence for breaking out of traditional musical prescripts (95) continuity of aesthetic resistance free jazz >> hip-hop. JS doesn't really pick up on this thread.
Emergent ethics of the hip-hop producer community:
– no biting from other producers although everything else is fair game to sample originality remains a concern in the sampling world, but it resides in the juxtaposition of elements, rather than in the elements themselves
– vinyl samples only. Although this is much debated
– no samples from other hip-hop. Except for parody/reference
– no samples from “respected” records – e.g. Miles, marvin, stevie. if it's not an improvement on the original, don't bother.
– No samples from compilations/reissues. Interesting approach to “originality” given remix rupture. In a way, they prize original reproductions – a seeming contradiction in terms.
– Only one sample per source record
digging in the crates is seen as vital for its music education function
ethics may trump aesthetics in defining hip-hop (put another way, process trumps product)
looping = signifying. Intellectual expression while hiding agency.
JS believes that the ironic/parodic aspect of sampling has been overstated by other theoreticians – its really all about the vibe.
Argues (on p. 160) that becoming conversant with hip-hop amounts to a form of cognitive training – allowing people to develop an “appreciation for ambiguity” across a range of social contexts. This is very important – musical aesthetics inculcating sociocognitive habits and structures.
Flipping a sample – truly recontextualizing it – is considered far more creative than simply looping it. (although this contains an element of sour grapes, given that all the low-hanging loops have already been plucked, and given the constraints presented by IP law)
chopping vs. looping
art world constraints to producer ethics/aesthetics:
– emcees demand rhyme-friendly beats
– sample clearance. Can be expensive, impossible, complex, etc.
– listener venue.
– Club – dancing is primary, DJ is arbiter. Aesthetics adjusted include tempo, rhythmic stability, arrangements
– home – music for listening, i.e. really flipped samples
– car – bumpin' bass. Drum machines trump samples.
DJ's are “hybrid” (183) -- both anthologists and artists ontological crisis (or is it just pomo) – breakdown of distinction between artist and critic
“the distinction between sample-based and non-sample-based hip-hop is distinction of genre, more than of individual technique.” (5) thesis statement
“in [hip-hop], the discourse of aesthetic quality is primarily based on the relationship between the original context of a given sample and its use in a hip-hop song” (13) relation of copy to original >> aesthetic quality
“to distinguish between different instruments [in hip-hop], as in a musical score, obscures the fact that the sounds one hears have usually been sampled from different recordings together. . . . To present each instrument as playing an individual 'part' is to misrepresent the conceptual moves that were made by the song's composer” (14) western music ontology insufficient to sample-based music
“the hip-hop aesthetic is, in a sense, an African-derived managerial philosophy.” (22) aesthetic << >> org ethic
“for thirty years . . . the hip-hop community has steadfastly refused to compromise its aesthetic principles in deference to the majority society” (24)
“many deejays are known to have taken a special delight in getting audiences to dance to breaks that were taken from genres that they professed to hate.” (32) subversion of generic distinctions was a vital hip-hop practice from the beginning
“there is clearly a political valence to the act of taking a record that was created according to European musical standards and, through the act of deejaying, physically forcing it to conform to an African American compositional aesthetic.” (33) aesthetics << >> politics
“Sample-based hip-hop is a studio-oriented music.” (42)
“one effect of [producer dominance] is hip-hop's celebration, almost unique in African-American music, of the solitary genius.” (42) this flies in the face of my argument about the ways in which remix aesthetics undermine the post-Kantian aesthetic paradigm. I really need to address this, otherwise i'm missing something very, very important!!! i am also going to have to address the historical articulation of black/white with communal/hierarchical if i want to discuss vying social ethics.
“The history of hip-hop sampling. . . is a story of dialectical influence. Innovations are accepted only if they conform to a preexisting aesthetic, but once accepted, they subtly change it” (42) process of innovation – i believe i can expand on this.
“the sampler is a piece of studio equipment. This simple fact obliterates conventional distinctions between performing (or practicing) and recording.” (46) ontological crisis
“ridicule plays an important part in maintaining the continuity of the hip-hop aesthetic” (49) echoes “apart at the seams” -- absent legal techniques, aesthetic conventions (specifically, the line between influence and theft) are policed socially
“The digital sampler is ideologically associated with an older technology, the turntable, in a manner that is in no way inherent to the technology, but rather is a reflection of the specific social history of the hip-hop community.” (57)
“The producer chooses to become part of the collective history every time he makes a beat.” (61) i argue the same for all musicians in “apart at the seams”
“producers have developed an approach to authenticity that is characterized by a sort of aesthetic purism” (64)
“I am suggesting [that hip-hop embraces] an aesthetic that is more concerned with a cohesive organizing principle than the diversity of individual elements that fall into its orbit.” (66) pastiche = cohesion, NOT fragmentation
“the preference is not for the act of sampling, but for the sound of sampling: It is a matter of aesthetics.” (78)
“Producers . . . are often judged on the perceived quality of their crates.” (82)
“[there is] a growing sense that sampling a break and repeating it . . . does not show enough artistic creativity on the part of a producer. Many producers hunger for a more personal form of expression, which they feel can be found by sampling smaller musical segments and rearranging them . . . [there is] as increasing consciousness on the part of music publishing companies about sample clearance. It is fairly easy to recognize a two-measure section of a popular song, and hip-hop artists can therefore expect to pay the original copyright holders for every break-length sample they use.” (98) recent aesthetic shift from breaks to music concrete. This is driven by BOTH a desire to innovate AND the financial constraints of IP/licensing. VERY IMPORTANT to my dissertation.
“concern for one's reputation among other producers is often enough to enforce a sense of ethical obligation.” (102) reinforces 'apart at the seams' finding re: role of shame
DJ Premiere, on Moment of Truth: “berates other hip-hop artists for 'lettin' the industry control the rules of the hip-hop world that we made.' In doing so, he is implicitly arguing that this hip-hop world can be distinguished and protected from the 'industry' by its control of a set of rules.” (102) producers explicit about resisting industry-driven ethics, e.g. Legal structures. This is important: if community ethics, rather than top-down edicts like laws or contracts, define “originality” and “creativity” in hip-hop, this is an explicitly political resolution to the ontological crisis engendered by remix.
“hip-hop is a collective enterprise, and . . . when producers violate rules, they are not only failing to contribute to the collective project, but actually undoing what has already been accomplished by others.” (131) ethic of collective endeavor
“virtually all hip-hop music is based on a cyclic form.” (136) contrast to dj adrian's statements about mash-ups being linear.
Looping “serves to 'Africanize' musical material by reorganizing melodic material in accordance with specific African preferences such as cyclic motion, call and response, repetition and variation, and 'groove'” (138) loop = afro, linear = euro
“producers value the meaning of a particular sample not primarily for its own sake, but more as a venue for ambiguity and manipulation.” (146)
“the producers' methodology has much in common with the experimental approach of collage artists who work in other media, particularly visual media.” (152)
“it is not so much the history of a community or even of a musical form that producers are interested in, but the history of sound recordings.” (157)
“'I think the whole chopping thing came about as a direct result of rappers getting sued, or rappers having to pay way too much, or labels not willing to put out records'” (165-6, quoting producer Samson S.) VERY IMPORTANT – aesthetic shift in reaction to legal/economic constraints erected by industry
“although producers have their own standards for ethical behavior and aesthetic quality, their reputations and potential earnings largely rest in the hands of individuals whose sensibilities lie outside of those standards. . . . these apparently 'outside' needs are, in fact, fundamental to the nature of hip-hop production.” (169) ethics/aesthetics are constrained by art worlds BUT that constraint is fundamental
“in practice, such [short and unrecognizable] samples are often not cleared at all, on the assumption that the owner of the master rights would not be able to recognize that the song had been sampled in the first place” (177) obscuring samples to avoid paying licenses – aesthetic strategy to counter legal/financial hurdles
“copyright tends to be viewed by hip-hop producers as a tactic for dealing with the non-hip-hop world.” (178)
“sample clearance – in principle – has little effect on how people produce records . . . the fact that producers make music that they know they cannot sell shows their lack of concern for the marketplace” (180) non-commerciality as badge of authenticity – similar to mash-ups, but slightly different
“As the community preserves the aesthetic, so the aesthetic preserves the community.” (195) aesthetic << >> community
Walser (1995). Rhythm, rhyme, and rhetoric in the music of Public Enemy.
Krims (2000). Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity.
Gaunt (1995). The veneration of James Brown and George Clinton in hip-hop music: Is it live! Or is it re-memory?
Porcello (1991). The ethicss of digital audio-sampling: Engineers' discourse. recording engineers re: sampling – debate about ethical boundaries and, separately, legal liability ontological crisis
Potter (1995). Spectacular Vernaculars. “Hip-hop's remaking of consumption as production was the first thing lost [when record labels began to record it]” (p. 45) record labels undermined participatory nature of hip-hop from the jump