I recently read this article on Spin.com regarding the dwindling use of samples in current hip-hop that saddened me deeply.
As a hip-hop fan from an early age, samples were what drew me to the music initially. I grew up in a household that consistently played the best in Soul, R&B, and Jazz-- Miles, Stevie, Otis, Ella, and even Percy Sledge. Hearing a classic in a new genre of music was always exciting and made me want more. The more samples I heard reworked into street jams--a memorable stand-out for me is Jigga's "Ain't No Nigga", which interlopes The Four Tops' "Ain't No Woman"--the more I began to understand that hip-hop was a music dedicated to exploring its roots.
Then, as I got older and my attentions became more focused, I learned that hip hop artists frequently sampled each other-- Rakim shows up in Nas, Nas shows up in Jay Z, and all three show up in Girl Talk. Not only was this a genre that paid homage to where it came from, but one that challenged its contemporaries to grow musically and lyrically through healthy competition.
But, at least according to the article, with the rising costs of clearning samples and falling album sales, the era of sampling is long gone. T-Pain's Vocoder is taking over, and while I'm all for progress, somehow "Chopped and Screwed" doesn't excite me in the same way as hearing a song that took me back musically and moved me forward lyrically, all at the same time.
(Thanks to Adeli's Music Blog for Image)