Sample and Cover culture

“Neh muhn I’ve heard that somewhere before…”

Is it right?
Is it wrong?
…am I allowed to?
…are we running out of ideas?
Are we losing originality?
Have we literally run out of music?

“Sampling is the reuse of a portion of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise rhythm, melody, speech, or other sounds.” ~ Wikipedia

“Cover is a new performance or recording by someone other than the original artist or composer of a previously recorded, commercially released song.” ~ Wikipedia

There is an endless list of questions around and about sample culture but honestly speaking I could not care any less. The prospect of hearing an artist’s take or interpretation of another artist’s art has always been one that excites me. Sampling and covering of music in their own rights are forms of art, art which I’ve learnt to embrace. I mean The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is one of my favourite albums of all time after all!

Sampling has been a part of music for as long as music itself has being around, what may vary is the stage or level at which it is done, and as blunt as it may sound you singing or reciting a song you heard earlier on in the day is in a sense you sampling or covering the song.

Sampling varies, there are artists who keep large bits of the original, there are artists who play on the beat, on the flow, the chorus or on a mere vocal. I am pretty sure that if I went in on the technicalities around sample culture I would definitely tell a whole lot of lies so rather I don’t, we all have google for that.

The beauty of the art of sampling is that it pays homage to legendary artists and tunes, it brings light to tunes that had not necessarily peaked, and it preserves sound, identity and culture. An all time favourite of mine Thandiswa Mazwai’s latest studio album Belede is a compilation of tunes originally performed by artists from the generation prior:

“I’ve reimagined these songs for a new space and time, and what’s interesting is that even though a lot of these songs were written as rebel music against Apartheid, they still make sense in South Africa now. They still have the same impact, ask the same questions and evoke the same actions,” ~ Thandiswa Mazwai

In a South African sense I think we have mastered the art of sampling, our artists have proved time and time again that they are able to “make a classic from a classic”. Be it Mafikizolo taking inspiration from ma’Miriam Makeba’s Meet Me At The River and giving us Emlanjeni, Shot Gun Flava taking on Jonas Gwangwa’s Kgomo or amongst other things AKA playing on TKZee’s Shibobo, the list is endless and timeless.

And to further emphasis on just how good South African artists are at sampling the late great HHP jumped borders and genres when he sampled Imagination’s music and light and gave us a classic of his own!
“Our lost African music will turn into the music of the people, Yes the people’s music for the people’s culture…” ~ Vusi Mahlasela on When You Come back

A massive shout out to Makwa for his Mzonkoko sound that aims to preserve “The South African sound” and pays homage to the kwaito tempo and sound.

Below are but a few of my favourite covers and samples:

Khalee G & Loatinover Pounds – Feelings sampled: Thina Sobabili by Dj Bongs
Musa – Umkhaya Lo original by Jabu Khanyile
AKA – Run Jozi sampled: Mama Afrika by MXO
Major League Djz ft Cassper Nyovest – Uthando original by Boom Shaka (lerato)
Thami – All I Could Do Was Cry covered Beyonce’s cover of the Etta
James classic

PJ Morton – How Deep Is Your Love original by the Bee Gees
Vusi Nova – I’d Rather Go Blind covered Beyonce’s cover of another Etta
James classic

Alicia Keys – How Come You Don’t Call Me covered a Prince original
Thandiswa Mazwai – Jikijela sampled: Kukuchi/Jikijela by Letta Mbulu

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