hip hop music

May 8, 2006

Bill Withers on Hip-Hop

From the latest Wax Poetics, typed up by Kate404 on OKP:

When did you first learn of artists sampling your work?

Well, it's hard to remember. The earliest stuff (that I knew of) was Blackstreet, and then my wife started making me aware. People would request stuff. If it wasn't too foul-mouthed, then I would usually okay it.

A range of artists have sampled you. On one side, there is Will Smith and on the other there's Dr. Dre.

And Kayne West (for "Roses") on his new album.

Have you spoken with anyone who's sampled you?

I met Kanye West briefly. He was unveiling a painting he had commissioned from a friend of mine, Ernie Barnes (who painted the famous "Sugar Shack" that was used for the cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You"). So, I spoke with him briefly, but he was surrounded, and everyone was trying to talk with him. I've never really sat down and had much contact (with these artists).

What would you say or ask them?

You have to give them a lot of credit. I judge things by how difficult it would be to do. And when they are able to sample snippets of music and put it into their whole thing, it's an interesting art form. If you can get past the sociological differences in some of the stuff that is kind of angry and hedonistic and just look at the art form and how difficult it is (to do), I would probably enjoy having a conversation with some people. Especially the people you mentioned, like Dr. Dre and Kanye or Teddy Riley. People like that are very creative and would seem to be very interesting people. Probably the reason that I haven't had that kind of contact is, you know, sixty-seven-year-olds, as a rule, don't hang out with twenty to thirty-year olds!...

I would really like to understand, because it is just as creative and inventive an art form as jazz was. It doesn't require (schooled) musical virtuosity, but jazz didn't require as much (schooled) virtuosity. Especially (with) sampling, there is an art form. If it were so easy, how come you're not doin it? I couldn't do it! I don't have that forsight. I couldn't take little snippets of things and put it together. Most are forms we see, there's a more complex story behind it. Wouldn't it be interesting for a seventy-year old owner of a television repair shop to have an open-minded discussion with 50 Cent?

Posted by jsmooth995 at May 8, 2006 12:44 PM

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