Inspired by this insightful WKCO playlist that traced the use of I Can’t Stand the Rain by Ann Peebles through decades of sampling in hip-hop and rap, I decided to take a look at the ingenious use of sampling in the discography of Kanye West. In eight masterful albums, Kanye has managed to sample from just about every genre and era of music in distinctive and original ways: what other twenty-first century artist could sample from Laura Nyro, Can, Public Enemy, and Michael Jackson, all in one sonically and thematically cohesive record? His use of sampling has become one of the enigmatic, protean artist’s only true signatures. Here, I look at the most effective and surprising use of sampling in each of Kanye’s full-length releases. As Rick Ross once warned/promised in his intro to Kanye’s legendary track “Monster:” “as you run through my jungles, all you hear is rumbles/Kanye West samples, here’s one for example…”
“A House Is Not A Home” by Luther Vandross; sampled in “Slow Jamz” from The College Dropout.
“I Got A Woman” by Ray Charles; sampled in “Gold Digger” from Late Registration.
“Kid Charlemagne” by Steely Dan; sampled in “Champion” from Graduation.
“Memories Fade” by Tears For Fears; sampled in “Coldest Winter” from 808s & Heartbreak.
“Try A Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding; sampled in “Otis” from Watch the Throne.
“Woods” by Bon Iver; sampled in “Lost in the World” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
“Strange Fruit” by Nina Simone; sampled in “Blood on the Leaves” from Yeezus.
“Panda” by Desiigner; sampled in “Father Stretch My Hands Part 2” from The Life Of Pablo.
I’m starting a new type of playlist where I select songs I think fit characters from books, films, shows, my imagination, etc. and they will from here on out be called ~Personality Playlists~
To start, I thought I’d pick some of my favorite badass 90s girls Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer from Daniel Clowes’ comic book series Eightball and later their own novel, Ghost World (which was also turned into a cult classic movie starring a young Scarjo and Thora Birch and the charming Steve Buscemi)
A chilly wind stirs across campus. The leaves start to shiver on the trees. Before we know it, we’ll be right in the middle of autumn. From brisk weather and hearty celebration to cold rain and solemn remembrances, fall’s got it all. What better way to get into the spirit of it all by taking another musical journey into the Unknown with Over the Garden Wall.
When this is posted, it probably will no longer be September 30. But, as I write this, it is currently September 30th. Anyway, September 30th was one of those days for me where I sat down in a good spot, queued the right music on Spotify, and just felt good. Though the sun wasn’t shining, the weather was finally starting to feel like actual fall, and the moment was accentuated by the great music I had playing in the background.
It’s hard to overstate my love for a little band from Wisconsin that turned big: anyone reading this who knows me knows that I am certifiably obsessed with Justin Vernon’s nom-de-band, Bon Iver. Anyone reading this who does not know me and for any reason doubts my certifiable obsession, I lead you to the love letter to the band I published on this platform last semester. As further proof that my devotion to Bon Iver has become almost religious in nature, I’ll let you in on the little secret that I am not only constantly designing and re-designing plans for one Bon Iver-inspired tattoo, but three (1). I know that I am not even yet 20 years old, but given how important music has been in my life thus far, I can only imagine that it will continue to remain a life-giving force for the rest of my time on earth. I will discover countless new musicians to which I will feel inextricably connected. If I am lucky, I will see those artists live, will own their discographies on vinyl, will meet them in bars or in the backstages of famous venues at sold-out shows. But in all my life, I can confidently say, I will never love a band like I love Bon Iver. I just won’t. I’m not sure how I know this. But I do.
So imagine my distress when, in September of 2013, Vernon made remarks in an Australian talk radio interview that hinted at Bon Iver’s demise. It had been two years, at that point, since the release of the band’s self-titled sophomore album, and about the same amount of time since I had fallen head-over-heals-irreversibly in love with Bon Iver. It was simply unbearable––thinking about the dissolution of my favorite band at a particularly vulnerable time in my life, when I considered them standing on a mountaintop, preparing to take the proverbial leap into what would surely be a dazzling, durable musical career. In the meantime, though, Vernon launched several exciting new projects––significant collaborations with Kanye West,James Blake, and Frank Ocean! the curation of his own music festival in his beloved hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin! two excellent experimental LPs with another band, Volcano Choir! the discovery and production of some promising young musicians on his label, Jagjaguwar! a super-goofy appearance in the video for Francis and the Lights’s “Friends!” Then, in February of this year, my heart stood still, when I saw this Pitchfork headline: “Bon Iver ‘No Longer Winding Down.’” It was only a matter of time before singles from 22, A Million, Bon Iver’s third LP and their first in five years, gradually made their way to release, as did the typographically cryptic and puzzling track list. And then, only a few weeks ago, a release date was announced. Me, I was putting the album’s first single (and opening track) “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” on all my playlists and trying very, very hard not to literally shit my sad-girl pants.
Have you all been enjoying this rainy spell? My rain slicker is worn thin, but it’s still holding up.
Here’s a playlist that starts with I Can’t Stand the Rain by Ann Peebles and flows on from there. Each song samples an earlier song. I’ve laid it out linearly so you won’t get lost. This hip-hop family tree has some dead ends, so there may be a couple songs that directly sample the same song before we move on. Listen for what elements are borrowed each time. What lasts, and for how many repetitions. I’ll point some things out, but I’ll leave some for you to find.
Whether you’re working out or just working, video game music can help you focus! It’s designed to keep players immersed in the game, so it’s the perfect background to any activity that requires concentration. This is a playlist I made for my radio show a few weeks ago, and it’s one of my favorites!
On “Sister,” one of the B-sides off of Angel Olsen’s recently released album MY WOMAN, she sings, “I want to live life / I want to die right…” Olsen then allows the music to swell and pause before she croons the end of her sentence: “…next to you.” When I first heard this song, I didn’t realize the two phrases were connected, that a you was being directly addressed in the first line. The distance between the two sentiments suggests a desire for a closeness that is both elusive and necessary. It is exactly this complexity that defines Angel Olsen’s musical project.
Throughout MY WOMAN, Olsen immerses herself in these questions: what do we want from life? What are we seeking? Love, satisfaction, intimacy, artistic expression, some sort of elusive sense of adventure and truth? Can these qualities coexist, or does being a woman who loves men and also an artist mean that your life will always be delineated by sacrifice and compromise? These are the concerns that have defined Angel Olsen’s rich career thus far, and I see MY WOMAN as another gorgeous and wise attempt to grapple with them. In the process, she has created a sonically impressive and diverse album that offers a strong, if prismatic, definition of how to be alive, and a WOMAN.