Indie Samples in Hip-Hop

todayMarch 2, 2023 66 4 5

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By Adrianna Elias
Rap/Hip-Hop Journalist

Sampling in the world of hip-hop is common practice. Artists and producers will reference, interpolate and incorporate their influences within their own music to make it their own. Artists and producers often draw inspiration from oldies, other rappers and even their peers.

As I’ve dove deep into music, I have discovered the world of music production and the technique of sampling, as well as how often hip-hop artists sample indie music. Largely, artists are pulling from some of the pioneers of indie music, such as Beach House, Cocteau Twins and Tame Impala.

With the rise of internet producers over the past ten years, there are untraceable reasons for the explosion of a certain sound. There’s credit to be given to producers and artists in the mainstream who do something of their own. Their music reflects their references, resulting in a completely new sound.

As culture shifts, so does the sound of modern music. One of my first interactions with sampling and the world behind it was hearing “Daydreaming” by Lupe Fiasco featuring Jill Scott. In 2016, season 2 of Mr. Robot came out. I heard the beginning of “Daydreaming” playing, but it was not Fiasco’s version; instead, it was I Monsters’ “Daydreaming in Blue.” That’s when I realized Fiasco had sampled the track in his song.

The song used in Mr. Robot is perfect because the song itself takes place through the eyes of a robot, the same metaphor as in the show.

Beach House is known for their psychedelic pop and indie sound, often sampled in hip-hop tracks. Current sampling in the hip-hop world reflects the genre-less nature of music right now. Artists don’t care to align with the historical image of what hip-hop “should be,” but rather with what they like.

Hip-hop has evolved into a weirder, more alternative sound, resembling alt/indie music. Sonically, Beach House stands on its own, but there is room to build off the sound, making it great to sample.

Beach House is famously sampled on Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees.” Some of the best elements of this track are its wistful melodies and expressive slide guitar blended with a steady beat and Lamar’s catchy hook, “ya bish!” Producer DJ Dahi sampled Beach House’s “Silver Soul” in Lamar’s track, making it an instant classic.

Another avid Beach House sampler is The Weeknd. He sampled “Gila” in his 2012 Trilogy album on the song “Loft Music.” Taking from the duo once more on the project, the hook of his track “The Party & The After Party” samples “Master of None” from Beach House’s 2006 self-titled album. The Weeknd’s sound is that of old R&B reincarnated into something of modern times.

On the same album, The Weeknd samples Cocteau Twins on his track “The Knowing,” using their song “Cherry-coloured Funk,” creating a more alternative R&B that pairs well with the melodic sounds of Lana Del Rey and Ariana Grande alike.

As listeners become more aware of how sampling and recording work, artists can push the limits and make it an Easter egg hunt for those who are really paying attention. Hip-hop is moving towards a more alternative dream-like sound. The world of sampling indie and dream pop influences turned into using producers of those genres to create a new sound.

The most recent interpretation of this is Lil Yachty. On his latest album, “Let’s Start Here,” Yachty does not necessarily sample an artist but had iconic indie producers and artists help him curate the sound of the album to be the great psych-rock album that it is.

If you want to check out more examples of hip-hop artists using indie songs in their music, give this playlist a listen!

Featured Image are Album Covers from the Cocteau Twins, The Weeknd and Beach House

Written by: Amaya Lewis

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