Hip Hop History: A Lesson Learned

Everyone wants to get rich quick, however; those who get fast money are said to lose it even faster. Hip Hop/Rap music began in the disco clubs of New York in the late seventies. Dee jays noticed that the break boys and break girls cleaned the floor on the break beat of their favorite disco records, so they decided to loop the break beats to extend the break for a couple minutes, at least. Fast forward to the early nineties when Hip Hop/Rap music was becoming more lucrative for the parties involved. A version of sampling began in the 1940s but of course once we Black and Brown folks get a hold of something it gets everyone’s attention, therefore; in 1991 the landmark case involving our own Biz Markie was the beginning of what we know now as sample clearances. There have been many many cases of copyright infringement that now artists have to go through a lot of proverbial red tape to get even the smallest sample cleared.

There are a lot of artists who don’t own the rights to their music, the publishing, or any part of the song for that matter, and as a result an artists may have to go through a label to get permission just to use a bass line in their next trap hit. This is why you don’t see a lot of your favorite songs or albums on streaming platforms because the label or whichever entity has not cleared the music for streaming purposes. You remember for a brief moment everyone was using the caption “I do not own the rights to this music” in their posts on social media? People don’t even realize why they were doing that but they did it in fear of being sued by an artist, a label, or an estate. In the early 2000s a lot of rappers and producers became frustrated with the hassle of clearing samples and “created” their own samples or just stopped sampling all together. Reason being was because a lot of music was being created but after the owner of the sample heard the song they decided not to clear it because of the content, the artist themselves, they didn’t like the song, they didn’t like the artist, or they just didn’t want to.

Diddy was the king of sampling so much so that he was kind of hated by some for doing it so much. Some artist will allow another artist to sample their work with stipulations while others like DJ Paul and Juicy J pretty much clear all their samples. That’s how a more seasoned artist can stay afloat if they don’t want to work in the industry in the same capacity as they did when they were younger. All of these examples surrounding sampling yet artist like Juice Wrld still don’t study Hip Hop History enough to avoid the ills that took down their predecessors. So whose fault is that, the label for not allowing this young man to develop as an artist and learn the game? Is it Juice Wrld himself for not studying the history of the business? Is it Sting for not allowing this young man and his collaborators to “be creative”? Artist like Sting have no problem collecting their cash as they should, they own it and you’re just renting. Let this instance with Juice Wrld be a learning experience to you up and coming artist who think they don’t need to study Hip Hop History and learn the business of the culture. History may not repeat itself but surely it does parallel.

“This is clearly a lesson learned for someone else.” – Black Thought (One Time)


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