Something I wrote up tonight for this new website I'm working on. It's not really a debate on if sampling is ethical but more of an informative essay on the different ethical debates of sampling and how certain groups feel about these issues.

Sampling has been one of the most important elements of the Hip-Hop culture. Many of the first Hip-Hop producers made their beats by sampling old Funk and Soul tracks. Today, this tradition continues as everyone from Kanye West to the kid down the street are using samples to create beats. While sampling is popular in the Hip-Hop community, the usage of samples in Hip-Hop compositions are causing ethical issues abroad.

Some fans of the sampled track, especially those fans who are not fond of Hip-Hop music, may argue that their beloved song is being defaced by the beat makers and producers that sample it. These individuals usually feel that the track being sampled is not being respected but is being abused. Furthermore, the fact that many of these sampled beats have achieved higher popularity and success adds to this hatred that many people have of the art of sampling. While these people may consider sampling unethical for these reasons, it’s usually nothing more than a combination of ignorance and jealousy.

Another ethical issue that turns up with sampling is the proper crediting of the sample. Many beat makers sample a track without crediting the original artist(s) for the original version of the track. While this issue is not as known in the commercial music world (due to the threat of a lawsuit), it is common for an independent beat maker to not give credit to the author(s) of samples used in his/her tracks. In these cases, many people may argue that these beat producers are stealing the original sounds as they did not give credit for using parts of the original track. In many cases, people believe that the beat maker came up with the track on his/her own when the reality is that he/she merely sampled and looped an old song that is relatively unheard-of. While this is not an issue in itself, it is an issue when the beat maker does not give proper credit to the original artist(s).

Finally, a third ethical issue that arises with sampling is that certain members of the beat making community don’t consider “sample-based” producers to be as creative as those who compose their beats from scratch. Sample-based producers would argue with this opinion because it does take creativity and time to find the samples that work together. Additionally, in the case of a finely chopped track, pieces of the sample have to be combined in ways that they were not originally intended to. A beat maker that doesn’t use samples to create his/her tracks may rebuttal by stating that it is easier to move around pieces of an existing song than to create a song from scratch. The opinion on this issue usually is decided by the level of experience that a beat maker has with a certain method. A sampled-based producer may feel that the non-sampling producers are not using their skills and resources to the highest level while a non-sampling producer may feel that a sample-based producer is “cheating” the production process.

Regardless of how you view sampling as an ethical issue in music production, it has been proven that sampling helps both the artist(s) being sampled and the sampler. Such an example would be the usage of James Brown by Public Enemy. Public Enemy was able to construct many popular songs by using James Brown samples and Brown had a popularity rebirth due to the usage of his work by Public Enemy. While the debate on sampling as an ethical form of music creation continues on, it cannot be debated that sampling has done great things for both the samplers and the artist(s) they sampled.
Feel free to give me your opinion, feedback, and such. It's pretty long at 603 words but it's going to be a launch article so I had to make some kind of impression.