I was going to go off on a big angry rant about the practice of so-called “sampling” which began fairly innocuously with the pilfering of a beat here and a bass-line there, but which has now become so widespread and accepted that it is common to hear a complete recording being altered by simply merging an already recognizable hit into the gibberish misogyny and/or nihilism of the most recent flavour of the month rap/hip-hop star. I was going to argue that just because something is legal (ie paying royalties to a record company, who owns the rights to the song in question) doesn’t make it right or legitimate or worthy of merit, attention. I was going to argue that one would never take a film and insert twenty minutes of footage of someone spouting about making fat stacks and making it rain on the bitches, and then claim that you had made a movie.
I was going to ask why nobody in the hip hop industry plays any musical instruments, and when someone rebutted that poor black kids from the ghetto don’t come from a place of privilege, I was going to ask that person whether s/he thought that black kids today have it worse than black kids in the 1930s — black kids that lived under segregation; black kids that grew up hearing stories of slavery from their grandparents; black kids that grew up afraid of the KKK.
I was going to admit that maybe I just have a greater appreciation and respect for art and the skill and talent and hard work involved in learning how to play and perfect an instrument (or even just to learn music; or how to sing). I was going to say that maybe I get a little hot under the collar because I hold the opinion that even if one can sell a song, a painting, a story, a film — that the art will always belong to the creator, and when someone takes someone else’s art and calls it their own (forget about the legalities of “yeah, but they paid royalties”) then to me it is at the very least karaoke, and at worst (and in my opinion) plagiarism.
I was going to say that every time I turn on the radio and hear some song that I know suddenly morph into someone rapping over top of it that I want to drive off the road and leave this increasingly insane world.
I was going to ask why it is that Jimi Hendrix never needed to steal a beat or bass-line from, say, The Beatles. Or why I can’t recall ever hearing Otis Redding sing over the pre-recorded music of, say, The Doors.
I was going to ask how it was that black Americans fucking INVENTED rock and roll, and yet now black music boils down to pretty much turning on a drum machine and finding some half-naked woman to sing “Take off your clothes. Take off your clothes.”
Instead, I’ll just ask this one question, with pictorial assistance.
How did we go from this:
(Legendary singers, songwriters, musicians, innovators, rebels — a wealth of talent and skill and vision)
(Just a couple of prime examples)
a) Can’t sing, can’t play an instrument — is pretty much famous for being an asshole — his song “Black Skinhead” is just him rapping over top of Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People”
b) Can’t sing, can’t play an instrument, is pretty much famous for her ass, and her song “Your Love” is just her doing her thing over top of Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love You’s”