Sampling is one of those things that can either be a difficult task, or something that you just do. For a lot of producers, sampling is essential because with the right sample, your beat can become insanely popular, but it’s getting that sample that is the challenge.
What it all boils down to is finding the right sample, and making sure that it not only sounds great, but fits in with the rest of your beat. It will make all the difference.
There are many producers that go digging for vinyl, but a lot of them are also digging online nowadays as well. I’ve always found it to be a fun experience when digging for vinyl because most of the time you’re walking away with records where you don’t know if they will have dope samples or not.
With online digging, you won’t have a problem like that because it’s just too easy. Simply browse to your favorite digging website (most use YouTube), and you can find what you’re looking for. But where do you start?
Define Your Style
First you have figure out what kind of style your beats are, then decide what kind of style of samples you want. When I’m browsing, I typically look for music from the 70’s and 80’s, and I try to pick stuff that is not popular. The reason for that is because most people will sample the popular artists, or those artists are just so well known that it would be hard to mask the sample, if you needed to.
But even if you were to find music that sounded great and had some nice samples in it, it still doesn’t mean that you’re all set and ready to make your own beat.
Just the other night I was working on a beat and I had a really dope sample that I found from a 1980’s song. When I heard it (I’m not telling you who it was), I knew I had to sample it. The problem I had was that the sample just would not fit! I had the sample chopped up and ready to go, but when I started playing the pads and rearranging the notes, there was something about it that just plain sucked. So I ditched it.
Finding The Right Sample
It happens to everyone and I’m sure you’ve experienced it before, but I think when it comes to producing music, there are going to be many times where you hit a roadblock. This is why it’s important to really take your time when digging for samples because you don’t want to sample just anything.
When I was DJ’ing back in the 90’s, one of my favorite things to do when mixing, was to mix the instrumental of one song with the acapella of a different song. Today I think they call it “mashups” or whatever, but back then it was just straight up “mixing”. The great thing about mixing like this is that it was a good challenge for me, and it was like remixing an entire song. What I started to notice though, was that other DJ’s were doing it, but all wrong.
The mixes they came up with were just horrible, and that’s because they weren’t focused on the sound, instead they were just happy that they could get two separate records to be in sync with each other.
So for sampling, you have to have the experience to really listen for little parts of a song, and try to find a sample in there somewhere. Once you do, you’re golden.
I have made many beats, and a lot of them were terrible. I’m not perfect, and not every beat is going to be awesome, but I do have a lot of them that I think are simply amazing. Why? Because of the samples I used. When I tried to use that 80’s sample the other day, I thought that I was going to have another great beat, but I was sadly disappointed.
However, I still continue to look for THAT sample. The sample that is going to help me make another amazing beat, and it could be hidden in a 1930s Swing record, who knows. There’s nothing like finding a great sample to use, because once you do, making beats becomes quite easy.
I know a lot of producers like to sample a loop and use it “as is”, and that’s perfectly fine, because it just proves that if you find something dope, you really don’t need to put a lot of effort into it. You can easily loop a sample, loop a drum break, and then throw in an extra sound or two at the end of every 8th bar. Amazing.