The Proof Of Hit-Making Is In Sampling


Ever came across a song that sounded familiar or had a melody that seemed very familiar to your ear? Yup very possible. Most probably what you came across was a sampled song. The younger generation of producers have been reincarnating old classics. This has been happening since the 90s. Sampling was actually a very important essence of the early era of the Hip Hop in the States. Basically sampling is the use of fragments from existing musical works which are used in composing creative new pieces. A sample can be of any type of sound, whether a drum solo, tone, guitar chord, a vocal riff, even a foley sample to borrowing a whole melody from a song. A sample has no defined length to be classified as a sample. Making music with samples has become one of the most critical skills for producers which helps diversify music catalogues and address the challenge of "music sounding the same" or “lack of musicality”.

Sampling music has its own importance and a strong cultural references. While sampling has become part of pop music's evolution, it has also had an important social function. Sampled material to this day tends to be used as a homeage to musical or as a way to establish a kind of music community. Sampling helps sampled artists/ musicians in getting a wide range of listeners and introducing their music to younger generations. An interesting point to note is that James Brown is probably the most sampled man within the Hip Hop  genre. His music has been sampled in a lot of offerings by rappers.  A drum break from James Brown's "Funky Drumer" has been sampled multiple times by artists such as Public Enemy and De La Soul. 

Some of the biggest Pop Stars in the Universe right now have built their art with the help of sampling. Drake‘s “Nice for what” sampled vocals which were repeated through out the track. The voice sample came from Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor” track. The marriage of old and new when executed to perfection births hits such as Drake’s “Nice for what”. Kanye West made use of sampling making the infamous hit “Gold Digger” with Jamie Fox. It’s only recently that l learnt that Kanye West took the hook from Ray Charles’s 1954 “I got a woman” offering. Sean Kingston’s 2007 “Beautiful” hit borrowed from a 1961 classic by Ben E. King titled “Stand by me”. See the magic sampling does? Marriage of the old and the new. New generation of artists such as Pop Smoke also built his career around sampling some the greats. 

Taking it back to our African continent and specifically the Southern Region, big names such as AKA, Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C, Stogie T, ProVerb have all made use of samples making multi-platinum hits. I have discussed the international and region impact of musical samples, its only right to bring the conversation to Zimbabwe. I remember vividly watching the Chamhembe Story, Legendary Producer Take 5 was of the opionion that for Zimbabwe to establish its sound  and make commercially viable music there was need for younger artists to sample older Zimbabwean music. I found his thinking very interesting that I took it upon myself to scrutinize some of the releases which have sampled older Zimbabwean music. 

There are so many examples of Zimbabwe musicians who have made hits by sampling but for the sake of this discussion l just chose a few. 

Darrel - Easy
The young Zimbabwean crooner sampled the Urban Groove twins Roy and Royce’s Tenda hit for his Easy track. How amazing it felt for the younger artist to breathe new life into the 2003 song. 17 years later he introduced Roy and Royce to a new audience through sampling. The song instantly became a fan favorite with the older generation who had been acclimatized to Roy and Royce music. 

Hillzy x Oliver Mtukudzi - Ndiwe Wega (Trapsoul Remix) 
This probably has to one of Hillzy’s biggest hits. Almost every Zimbabwean (if not all) love the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi. This track introduced Hillzy to a new audience. Personally this was my introduction to his music. He dared to touch a classic and left his trapsoul touch making a hit in the process. 

Takura - Kutaura Newe
Takura sampled Tevin Campbell’s 1993 hit titled “Can we talk”. Kutaura Newe is the literal Shona translation for “Can we talk”. Takura translated the Tevin’s chorus into shona giving the 1993 classic a new pair of legs. 
He executed it so perfectly birthing a hit. 

Takura - My lover ft Laylizzy 
Takura sampled the melodies of Fortune Maparutsa’s “Wangu Ndega”. A 1990s hit by the Rhythm and Blew singer which was brought back to life in 2020 when Takura collaborated fellow Mozambican rapper Laylizzy. Takura clearly has mastered the art of sampling.

Takura - Who You Are 
Takura also sampled Urban Grooves Legend Leonard Mapfumo’s 2 Chete on his latest offering on Star Signs. Clearly Takura’s artistic juices are influenced by older melodies which he executes perfectly. Leornard Mapfumo took to twitter to appreciate the gesture of being sampled by Takura; 

In the same tweet Leonard Mapfumo added that he wished more young artists sampled more Zimbabwean music. 

R. Peels ft Nutty O - Thankful 
R. Peels sampled Major E’s vocals on this track. Major E was one of the pioneering Reggae acts in Zimbabwe in the 1990s. This track sampled Major E’s vocals from Innocent Utsiwegota’s “In my dreams” which was a monster hit on Radio 3 now Power Fm. 

R. Peels ft Yolanda Cream - Uripo 
Uripo sampled a 2005 2BG track titled “Chiyedza” which became the hook of the song. Yolanda Cream delivered the hook exceptionally breathing giving a more than 15 year old track a new face. 

Tocky Vibes - Mdara Tuku
Tocky Vibes mimicked the signature Tuku Music rhythm to capture this emotional dedication to Dr Oliver Mtukudzi. 


Ishan - Mughetto
Ishan borrowed from the legendary Cde Chinx - Dick Chingaira Makoni’s popular chorus “Iyo iyo hondo yakura muZimbabwe” from the 2002 politically charged hit song “Hondo yeminda”. 

Buffalo Souljah ft Tocky Vibes - Nobody Can Stop Reggae 
Buffalo Souljah sampled Marshal Munhumumwe’s 1988 Rudo Imoto hit instrumental to bring a new life to his 2020 song. 

From the listed samples from Zimbabwe one can tell the impact most these sampled by-products have had and how they have shone light on musical artifacts of yesteryear. Sampling is indeed an essential element to the Zimbabwe music industry which contributes more to the mission of sharpening and finding the true Zimbabwean sound!

Reparations of sampling and not crediting 

Sampling is an art so many artists have come to use which has boosted their careers and in some instances cut their careers shorts. The importance of sampling is knowing and understanding the legal terms of use. These laws vary in different regions. But normally to sample one’s music, voices, dialogue etc you have to reach out to the artist or the publishing company for permission! Even if you are releasing music for free you also NEED to clear samples. Not clearing samples comes at a cost! Huge-cost-in-fact.

Sampling gone-wrong

Jay-Z and Timbaland were once sued for not properly clearing samples for their hit “Big Pimpin”. Timbaland did not credit Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdy.  Furthermore according to WIPO.Int part of Rihanna’s “Please don’t stop the music” had been sampled from Michael Jackson’s 1983 “Wanna be starting” hit which Riri’s team claimed to have gone through the right channels. However Micheal had sampled a fragment from “Soul Makossa” by Afro Funk Jazzman Manu Dibango from Cameroon. Because of copyright infringement Manu Dibango ended up suing both Michael Jackson and Rihanna. 

In conclusion the proof of Hit-Making is in (legal) sampling. 

This is the first installment for the “The Proof Of Hit-Making” series. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow Greedy South on all social media platforms for the installments to follow. 
- @NdiGerald 

Gerald Muchandiona

twitterinstagram How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement - no matter how temporary - Craig Thompson


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