The Guide To Understanding Samples [Fall in Love With the Art of Borrowed Sounds]

Sampling, in a musical context, is the art of recycling a record and giving it a new life in a different recording.

Samples may reuse the melody, rhythm, words, drums or any other aspect of a body of work. This could mean speeding the sample up, pitching it down, playing it in reverse or any other re-imagination of that borrowed sound. Sampling is at the very core of a large portion of the greatest Hip Hop ever made. This field of musical production is inherently controversial, as people often accuse it of being unoriginal and derivative of another artist’s work, but the love and care that goes into sample curation is anything but predatory.

Art always inspires art

If the artist being sampled approves and is compensated, there is no harm in reinterpreting already good music and transmuting it into something different. The artistry in the sample comes from the creative vision and slavish commitment to crate digging of the producer. The producer is able to breath new life and re-contextualize old material, giving obscure work light in the mainstream and beyond.


Some producers have made careers out of sampling insanely obscure shit and flipping it into something different. Madlib and J Dilla seem almost alchemistic in their ability to pull samples from the dustiest crates and turn them into something fire. 

Dilla and Madlib cratedigging in Brazil

J Dilla is universally regarded by the underground hip hop community as one of the greatest and most creative producers of all time. He was willing to take risks and sample from all genres, shedding the tradition of just sampling 70’s Soul. His magnum opus, Donuts, released just three days before his death, is a masterclass in sampling and forever changed the production game.

Instead of playing sports I’d rather dig! – Lootpack

Sampling extends far beyond hip hop. Techno and has enjoyed a long love affair with samples inspired by the great hip hop crate diggers of the 90’s, as well as metal bands, sampling 80’s horror movies. Listen carefully, odds are some of your favorite tunes are sample heavy!

We’ve curated a playlist containing some of the coolest samples; check it out below!

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