Friday, June 21, 2024

Kanye West’s Two Big Samples on His New Album Come from Obscure Songs from the 1960s


Kanye West is the king of sampling– taking obscure music from the 60s and 70s and using it for himself. If he pays the original artist, I guess it’s a good thing. But Kanye doesn’t write original music.

He’s done this himself– a big example was taking Shirley Bassey’s  “Diamonds are Forever” years ago. He’s also taken Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” and countless others.

Even as a producer he’s done it with other artists. Alicia Keys’s “You Don’t Know My Name” comes from a Main Ingredient record.

The reason I get upset about this is that this did not exist before rap, when standards were higher. Marvin Gaye is turning over in his grave. His albums were works of art that he composed and performed. Stevie Wonder, same thing. They would never have considered sampling.

Anyway. On “Ye,” Kanye borrows “Children Get Together” from Edwin Hawkins, an R&B and gospel legend whose biggest was “Oh Happy Day.” Kanye also appropriates “Take Me For a Little While” by a writer named Trade Martin for “Ghost Town” aka “Someday.” The latter song was a hit twice, for Vanilla Fudge, and for Dave Edmunds.

Kanye is certainly not alone. P Diddy’s most famous hit was based on The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” All of Jay Z’s records come from samples. His “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys comes from “Love on a Two Way Street.” Jay’s most famous sample was for Beyonce’s signature hit “Crazy in Love.” The horn intro and the basic song come Eugene Records’ Chi-Lites “Are You My Woman.” Whenever I hear the horns from “Crazy in Love” I think of Gene, a real genius.

Here’s Edwin Hawkins:

Here’s Dave Edmunds:

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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