© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sampling Ain't Dead: Hip-Hop Producers Break Down The Formula

As an art form, sampling has been evolving for 35 years now. That's about how long ago it's been since the legendary producer Marley Marl revolutionized hip-hop production when, almost by accident, he figured out how to sample a drum beat from an existing record. It makes this a perfect time to look at the legacy, but also the trajectory, of sampling through a handful of snapshots.

The NPR Video team conceptualized this series, The Formula, that takes us into the home studios of several iconic producers, or producers of iconic songs, to talk about their approach to sampling and how they've evolved as producers. From talking to Just Blaze, 9th Wonder, DJ Dahi, DJ Premier and Salaam Remi, what we ended up discovering is so much more — the stories behind the music, yes, but also how they've kept sampling authentic but also vital in a genre where styles and trends change and transform faster than any other.

The fifth and final video will premiere on Saturday. In the meantime, we've also been asking some of our favorite writers to "sample" an element of each video themselves and spin it off in a new direction. Watch the videos above and read the accompanying essays below.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rodney Carmichael is NPR Music's hip-hop staff writer. An Atlanta-bred cultural critic, he helped document the city's rise as rap's reigning capital for a decade while serving on staff as music editor, culture writer and senior writer for the defunct alt-weekly Creative Loafing.