Risky business

Seventeen years after its advent, sampling remains mired in legal and aesthetic controversy

Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft admitted that he rushed home to sample it, but arrogantly proclaims, "We sampled four bars, and we put that on one track and laid down 47 tracks of music beyond that little piece. We're talking a four-bar sample turning into 'Bitter Sweet Symphony'--and they're still claiming it's the same song." Apparently, the pissed and percentageless Ashcroft bought into one of sampling's biggest myths: It's OK if you only take a few bars.

But such attitudes are nothing new. With all of the risks involved with today's sampling, perhaps today's artists feel that it's unfair that the earlier days were more lenient. Current sampler scientists such as the Chemical Brothers and DJ Shadow have fond memories of the days when De La Soul and its sampling lawsuit were something completely new.

"It was just so hip-hop," Shadow says. "They were the underdogs going up against these bloated rock and roll mind-states. And as a result, I got really rebellious and just sort of took a stance of, 'Fuck it. I'm just gonna use it.'" Sometimes, a little crime does pay.

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