A short while ago I did a review in which I made extensive references as to why the vocal sample in it was wrong. I mentioned Gabriel’s Laws on Sampling. Now at the time such a thing had not been codified, and was just a loose sort of concept. I have now decided to solidify the concept, and give you a proper list. Take note that these are not especially hard and fast and there can be exceptions to all.
1) Never use anything too well known. This may be personal opinion, but I do not want everyone in the room to know instantly what the source of the sample is. It totally defeats the coolness factor of it. The only possible exception might be sampling something 20 years old or so, that everyone still knows. Finding a clever vocal sample from Scooby Doo as an example. That would kick ass. But at least you need to have SEEN Scooby Doo to know what it was. Sampling “Show me the money” from Jerry Maguire would warrant letter bombs being sent to your house.
It should be noted that if the intended audience has no likelihood of knowing the sample then it’s still cool especially if the sample is way out of context. An example would be The Steve Miller Band’s “the Joker”. I can think of two examples OD this song being sampled. The first was the Geto Boys’ “Gangster of Love” which sampled the basic groove of the Joker and put the sort of rap lyrics that would make Too $hort grin from ear to ear on top of it. The song was cool, and got cooler when I realised where the sample cam from. Shaggy recently sampled the same groove in his song “Angel” now this too was very effective. Maybe it’s just that the original groove is so cool. I don’t know. But to contrast it with Puffy sampling the Police- the greatest hit the Police ever had no less, well let’s say that’s just a bad plan.
2) Use it out of context, if possible. Public Enemy sampling Slayer= good (She Watch Channel Zero) Puffy (sorry to rag on the guy but, well, you know) sampling Grand master Flash = bad. Digital Underground looping the least funky moment of an old Parliament song making it totally funky= good. Everybody and they mamma sampling James Brown’s Funky Drummer (thereby leeching it of all funkyness) = bad. Do we get the picture here?
3) Mess around with it. Y ‘know, pitch shifting (A la LL Cool J speeding up Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” or Digital Underground slowing down Donna Summers’ “Love to love ya”) make a movie sample and drop the voice an octave. Or raise it. Run it through a flanger or a distortion pedal. Delay pedals into a feedback loop SOMETHING!
4) if sampling a groove from a song, layer different part of the song on one spot. Really cool if done right.
5) three words: Old B- Movies. Gold mine for bad dialogue and are often quite obscure. Old serial radio programs are pretty good for that too. Try to find recordings of the radio days of some of these soaps.
Anyway, I think the point I’m trying to make is BE INVENTIVE DAMMIT! If you can’t sample in a clever fashion your melodies and rhythms aren’t likely very interesting, either. I cite an example from De La Soul: Me Myself and I isn’t very interesting: a boring sample and lyrics to match. Of course De La Soul also gave us Buddy, sampling a kazoo from somewhere. So I forgive them for Me Myself and I.
Oh yeah a tip: buy a hand held tape recorder. I still kick myself for not having one to record that old coot’s conspiracy theories with that day on the bus.