The history behind grabbing hip-hop beats was simple. Progression of technology swept throughout the United States with old jazz and funk records being thrown out. With the new wave being enjoyed by those that can afford it, people would scoop them up to remix and drop bars behind, thus starting the creation of instrumentals. You couldn’t just rap over another song, you had to make it pop. You had to find something obscure and make it even more so while still retaining that good feel it originally had. If you found something good you could make that gold, but the problem I’ve found lately is that recent artists are ripping from songs within the past two decades, and for those of us that’ve been listening for a while it’s brought nothing but shaking heads and thoughts of whack production. When I heard Wale’s The Helium Balloon off of The Album About Nothing it shook me because I knew I heard this from somewhere else.
This song wasn’t anything new. After scouring through my old records I found what Wale was trying to recapture, that being Ini Kamoze’s strong hit from 1994, Here comes the Hotstepper.
While ripping from a popular song is what you’re supposed to do, it pains me to hear the laziness of the track as it loses the essence and soul of hip-hop and what others are trying to do. My cousin used to work for a record label in Chicago during the 90’s, and back when Biggie Smalls released I comin out with Diddy and Mase, her interns were scratching their heads because they had no idea where it came from even if it was only a decade old.
Now I’m not saying that ripping is a problem, because it’s gone on for years. It only really is if you pay credit where it’s due and ask permission. When Kanye West released College Dropout he personally asked Arethra Franklin if he could use her record for School Spirit on one condition; he couldn’t swear on it’s main release hence the blurred censoring opening line.
Even if the original artist doesn’t know they’re being ripped, it becomes an even bigger issue because if they don’t know, their fans definitely will. Who knows whether Troy Ave’s Doo-Doo was legally allowed to be taken from Akon’s Blame It on Me.
If in-case he did ask, good on him for keeping the industry at a respectable level. Although given recent events he probably wouldn’t give a shit.
Whatever the case, it’s way more safe and there’s way more soul involved if you keep respect where it’s needed. Earlier this year Rolling Stone reported Robin Thicke and Pharrell losing a 7.3 million dollar lawsuit to the estate of Marvin Gaye. Artists, you can try sneaking around but you have to recognize that like theirs, your music will be forever.
Yes, the history of hip-hop started from remixing and making something new with no one really batting an eye. But technology is sweeping, and the industry is evolving. Most Hip-hop artists in turn have to evolve with the changing times and realize that most players keep their cards tucked close to their chests.So keep the soul to keep it alive, change your approach to change with the times..