I’m a chopper. Always have been, always will be. There’s something very unique about taking a sample, chopping it into little pieces and then piecing it back together in a completely different way that is just so dope. But looping is easier.
Looping a sample is dead simple and actually pretty lazy, but then again, it all depends on what kind of sample it is. Which should you choose?
I completely understand why a lot of producers don’t like to chop samples because it can be a pain in the butt and take too much time. There’s been plenty of times where I had a really nice sample and I started slicing it up like a ninja on speed, but then I would end up with a big mess.
Sampling is one of those things that if done right, can sound incredible. It used to be that just Hip Hop producers would sample, but then it went into Techno, Dance, Pop, Rock, and any other genre that you could think of.
Chopping, however, is still very difficult for some people because I think most of it comes down to the fact that they just don’t want to take the time to do it. Looping is easier and requires a lot less time in the studio.
When I first started rocking Cakewalk Pro Audio back in the day, I would chop crazy amounts of a track and just randomly put pieces in place, then hit play and see what I could come up with. Even though most of the time it sucked, the point is that I had FUN doing it. I tried looping but it just didn’t seem right to me, probably because I felt like Puff Daddy / P. Diddy / Puffy / whatever his name is.
The thing with looping a sample is that it just doesn’t seem right. When you find a drum loop, for example, you have the choice to chop it up or just loop it as is. Chopping drums seems like the most obvious thing to do, but looping drums is also really fun. Especially when it’s a loop like “Impeach The President” by the Honey Drippers:
With a loop like that, who would want to chop it? The thing sounds so dope! I know that it’s been used a gazillion times in Rap music, but if you were to take that drum break, loop it, then throw a simple keyboard riff on top – you’re golden. Stop the presses, there’s no need for anything else, everyone go home.
A friend of mine a while back, sent me a beat he did and it was something I was really digging a lot. It was super smooth with horns coming in and out and just a really mellow vibe with some laid back drums. I asked him how he put the beat together and he just laughed because he knew that I liked to chop samples. “It’s just two loops”, he told me. “I looped a drum break, and the music is Miles Davis”. I wasn’t surprised because I know that he likes to loop pretty much everything, but at that point I realized that chopping is not the end all of music production.
If It’s Dope, Use It
Not too long ago I went digging for some records and I came across a 1970’s Jazz record from some unknown group (I can’t remember their name), but it had four dudes on the front with afros and holding instruments. Anyone that digs knows that if you find a record that has someone on it with an afro, buy it. Digging is that simple!
But when I previewed the record, the first track I put on was amazing. It was like I hit a goldmine because it was this really evil sounding piano for a short few seconds at the beginning, then the rest of the track was just regular Jazz stuff. I bought the record immediately and when I got home, I knew I had to make a beat with that sample.
My first thought of course, was to chop it, but this time I thought about it for a minute and realized that it’s so dope that I should just use it as is. So I sampled that evil piano and looped it. I was pumped at this point so I went looking for some drums to throw on top. I couldn’t find anything good enough, so I said to myself, “screw it”, and loaded up the Skull Snaps “It’s A New Day” drum loop. You know which one I’m talking about. If you don’t, headbutt yourself.
With that drum break too, I just looped it because there’s no sense in touching something that is so dope. Now I had an evil piano and a really great drum break in sync with one another. I hit play and BOOM – my beat was pure gold. I finished it off with a few horns here and there and I was done.
The point is that I took two samples and didn’t even dare chop them. I looped them both together and to this day it’s one of the best beats that I’ve ever made (at least I think so!). If it’s dope, use it. You don’t need to chop all the time and you don’t need to loop all the time either. When you have a sample, just use your gut and don’t worry about what other people think.
You must remember that the only people that will care if you looped or chopped a sample, are other producers. The people that are listening to the beat, or if you sold the beat to someone – they don’t care about how the beat was made, they just want a beat that sounds amazing.
Bottom line: do you.