When listening to the radio, there’s nothing more frustrating than thinking you’ve heard a song before but can’t put a finger on who sang it. Only complicating matters, the last 40 years have perfected the trend of splicing and sampling songs, layering old over new.
Sampling has played a significant role in the development of R&B/Dance music, and has since found ways to branch out into other genres. Where the technology of the 1980s helped hip hop artists blend rap with funk and soul classics, today, producers and artists continue the trend of incorporating iconic sounds from times-gone-by into modern music.
Though some might point to the lack of originality of rehashing the tried and tested, good sampling is a creative skill in its own right. Here are some of the most exciting recent toppers that you may not have realised were older tunes.
‘Hotline Bling’ – ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’
The 2015 chart topper ‘Hotline Bling’ by Drake sampled the 1972 soul hit ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’, released by American R&B singer Timmy Thomas. Despite the clear resemblance being present in the modern song, according to Journalism student Yenlinh Le: “The producers used lots of musical editing techniques to change it such as a change of tempo, ‘chopped and screwed style’ and reverb.”
She added, “Sampled music is great. It makes so much of a difference, but it’s really all about how you use it. It’s all about making that sample into your own.” And Drake did just that. The iconic staccato guitar riff and catchy backing beat taken from Thomas’s tune adds flavour to his lyrics resemblant of today’s society.