Home Uncategorized Kanye-Jay Z “Throne,” Full of Samples, Will Fall Short Sales-wise

  • Kanye West and Jay Z‘s CD, “Watch the Throne,” isn’t the mega hit that was hoped for. Universal Music/DefJam angered record stores (what’s left of em) and download services like amazon.com because it gave ITunes a four day jump on downloads last week. The result, according to hitsdailydouble.com, was sales of 290,000. The album saturated its market quickly. Total sales are expected around 425,000– much lower than previously estimated. I know it sounds old and curmudgeonly, but why make an album if everything on it comes from somewhere else? Such is the case with Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Watch  the Throne.” It’s chock full of samples musically. Lyrically, it’s everything we’ve come to expect from over-indulged rappers with little to go on about except their own lives in the material world. It’s all about Rolls Royce Corniches, Champagne, and “cocaine seats.” It’s very tired, already.
  • Along the way, the late great Otis Redding and James Brown are each exploited, as is Nina Simone. It’s sad to think that the Redding family allowed “Try a Little Tenderness” to be defiled in this way. I burst out laughing when I realized that there’s actually a track called “That’s My Bitch.” It’s my favorite, and has a shout out to fancy art dealer Larry Gagosian. “That’s My Bitch” really seems to be a song sung by Brit pop singer Elly Jackson and written by Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. (So much for street cred; they’re a white indie rock group.)
  • Here’s the partial list of samples, via Wikipedia. Gotta give credit to all the people who researched how to make this record by stitching it together from various scraps and remnants. PS “Interpolated from” in rap is code for “lifted from”:
  • “No Church in the Wild” contains samples from “K Scope” as performed by Phil Manzanera, “Sunshine Help Me” as performed by Spooky Tooth and “Don’t Tell a Lie About Me and I Won’t Tell the Truth About You” as performed by James Brown.
  • “Niggas in Paris” contains samples from the Reverend W.A. Donaldson recording “Baptizing Scene” and dialogue between Will Ferrell and Jon Heder in the film Blades of Glory.
  • Otis” contains samples from “Try a Little Tenderness” as performed by Otis Redding, “Don’t Tell a Lie About Me and I Won’t Tell the Truth About You” by James Brown. An interpolation of ‘Top Billin'” by Audio Two is also present.
  • “Gotta Have It” contains samples from “Don’t Tell a Lie About Me and I Won’t Tell the Truth About You”, “People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul” and “My Thang” as performed by James Brown.
  • “New Day” contains samples from “Feeling Good” as performed by Nina Simone and “My World” by Alex Gilbert.
  • “That’s My Bitch” contains samples from “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” as performed by James Brown and “Apache” by Incredible Bongo Band.
  • “Who Gon Stop Me” contains samples from “I Can’t Stop” as performed by Flux Pavilion.
  • “Murder to Excellence” contains samples from “La La La” as performed by Indiggo and “Celie Shaves Mr./Scarification” as performed by Quincy Jones.
  • “Why I Love You” contains samples from “I Love You So” as performed by Cassius.
  • “Primetime” contains samples from “Action” as performed by Orange Krush.
  • “The Joy” contains samples from “The Makings of You (Live)” as performed by Curtis Mayfield and “Different Strokes” as performed by Syl Johnson.

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11 replies to this post
  1. And yes, lawyers, publishers, etc are happy. There really is no bad that comes from sampling. It’s not “killing” anything, because there are MILLIONS of composers out there who love instruments and sound in general. However, being a great instrumentalist is a far cry from being a great producer, for the record (as I’m sure you already know). There are horrible samplers out there just as there are horrid composer-style producers.

    Sampling opens people up to music they otherwise would never have listened to. I suppose you think once a song dies it should just die forever? Do you know how many records of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s that never saw the light of day in their era are now being sought after? There are albums that couldn’t get off the shelf for $5 that people are now buying for $200 because of sampling, and not just to sample, but for a genuine love of the music. If you made an album 30 years ago, wouldn’t you love to be paid royalties because some 25 yr old producer turned it into a multi-platinum hit, spawning people everywhere to seek out your music? I’ve bought records from Japan, Italy, France and the UK (where MUCH rare soul and jazz is hidden, might i add) because of hip hop since I was a kid.

    the best sampling producers pride themselves on finding the most untouched, rare and obscure records to use. this in and of itself is a great concept, ensuring music will be kept alive forever. C’mon, man.

  2. Firstly, Kanye doesn’t actually listen to rap. He’s constantly at record stores getting great music. Its an amazing thing because he shows the younger generation good music in a modern way. Also, sampling is not disrespectful or lazy. It’s taking a snippet from a song and creating something new with it. If you hate sampling then I guess you also go against RADIOHEAD who really look forward to remixing and sampling. Just because you can create new ideas from old ones doesnt make it lazy. Sampling, if done right, is actually extremely hard work. Every kind of music you listen to is based off older things heard. Its called progression, its called evolution, its called music.

  3. You mention: “Interpolated from” in rap is code for “lifted from”. Actually, what it means is that the artist/producer didn’t sample the original master recording. Instead, they copied it (replayed the parts).

    Therefore, it’s simply a means for the artist to save some money and not have to pay for the original master recording (instead, you only have to compensate the copyright holder…the music publisher…for the underlying musical composition that you are ‘interpolating’…not the master sound recording).

  4. I see what you’re saying, Roger, but I have to agree with Vonani and Jimmy. I can’t imagine what hip hop would be like without the Sugarhill Gang sampling “Good Times” or Afrika Bambaataa sampling Kraftwerk. I remember the generation of ‘original compositions’ before sampling resurfaced as a whole in hip hop. Those original songs consisted of tinny-sounding keyboard sounds and sparsely sequenced drum machines…that was neither creative nor audibly impressive to me. I can appreciate sampling because it allows me to discover songs that I never knew existed, and it allows me to rediscover some classics. I think Big Daddy Kane, said it best: “if we didn’t revive and bring back alive old beats that we appreciated, you wouldn’t survive. You’d be another memory to us…ashes to ashes, and dust to dust…” I’m not a fan of what Kanye DID with otis, but i can get into his attempts to reinterpret what he heard. As an avid music collector/fan and sample sleuth, I welcome sampling as a way of enlightening my listening canvas.

  5. I am probably the wrong person to debate this with due to the fact of my appreciation for word play. What you refer to leans towards the production in hip-hop, where I look at how the individuals become one with the production. People have sampled Jay, Pac, Big as well as Ye, but they sampled words/phrases while creating their own song. It sounds as though sampling is almost being called plagiarism. And I think we both can say that’s not what is going on. One of Whitney Houston most acclaimed songs performed is someone elses. Jazz today plays complete songs from an instrumental perspective. There is even a violinist….But for me hip-hop is in the message, the words, so I can just agree to disagree.

  6. You may feel that way, and it’s fine. I think it’s lazy, and it’s a way around having to create something new. Imagine if classic rock, R&B, and jazz as we know it had ”sampled” older music. We’d have nothing now. Homage is one thing. That’s when you “cover” a song that exists. Or do something in the style of something older. Sampling is just legalized stealing. P Diddy learned that when he made “I’ll Be Watching You” out of “Every Breath You Take.” I will say, though, that the Jay Z-Kanye track “Bitch” is very clever because it incorporates a lot of unknown ingredients. But there’s nothing like a totally original recording to take your breath away and ask “Whats that?” as opposed to “Oh my god, what IS that?”

  7. Sampling is a form of paying homage that laid the groundwork that allows you to be where you are today. It’s ironic that it is predominantly used in an art the is pretty much made of African Americans, as we tend to pay a lot of attention to where we come from. “If” you listen to the album, where they come from is essentially what the album is about. Coming from hardly anything at all and now to the point of being on the throne. Without those individuals struggles and triumphs, there wouldn’t be a Jay nor Ye. They respect those that came before them. Maybe not to you though…..Realize that individuals are able to continue living through art, but many younger individuals don’t even know who Otis is…..Now they may actually look into it!!!!

  8. I know it but I don’t like it. Sampling has been great for existing published music and writers. But it’s killed a generation or more of original composition. Hip hop records are constructions at best, mixed media. Thank goodness several generations of original music preceded it. According to one website that monitors this stuff, Kanye West has already sampled over 500 different bits for his albums. Music publishers and lawyers are so happy.

  9. You clearly do not know that Hip Hop was started on Samples, this album is a classic because it took back the elements of hip hop that have been missing and put them there, with empowering lyrics, fun lyrics, boosting lyrics and great artists, get over it

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