SAMPLED examines the skeletal production of a contemporary Rap/R&B/Hip-Hop or Pop song. From what song did the loop, sample, or chopped up vocal providing the backbone for a new interpretation originate? We look at the original song with some historical context, and then review the modern-day production that samples the original. For better or worse, this is the process by which a huge portion of contemporary pop music is assembled. On a weekly basis, SAMPLED aims to approach it case-by-case, and examine the dividing practice of using sampling in the creation of music.
This week, the sample in question is taken from a piece of music featured on the Gladiator soundtrack, composed by Hans Zimmer and vocalized by Lisa Gerrard:
Hans Zimmer has provided the score to countless iconic films, including The Lion King, The Dark Knight, Inception, and Crimson Tide, so it’s only fitting that our first cinematic sample would be extracted from one of his compositions. As a young boy growing up in Germany, Zimmer learned to play the piano, but disliked the discipline required to be trained through structured lessons. He moved to London as a teenager, and found himself fascinated by synthesizers, working with new wave, punk, and synth-pop bands, including The Buggles and The Damned. In the 1980s, Zimmer began producing music for television and film, and his big break came in 1988 when he was invited to provide the score for Rain Man, directed by Barry Levinson. Zimmer’s score for Rain Man would be his first of many Academy Award nominations, his only win being for his work on The Lion King. Zimmer’s score for Gladiator (“Sorrow”) blends orchestral and electronic elements, with Lisa Gerrard’s wailing female vocal providing an unsettling centrepiece for the lush soundscape.
“Sorrow” by Hans Zimmer was recently sampled by Bad Boy Records rapper MGK on the song “D3mons,” featuring DMX:
Ohio rapper MGK was scooped up by Diddy’s Bad Boy Records a little over a year ago, after generating some early buzz through releasing mixtapes, and notably being the first white rapper to ever win Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Machine Gun Kelly takes his name from notorious criminal George “Machine Gun” Kelly, in reference to his own rapid-fire lyrical flow. “D3mons” features the distinct production style of Harlem producer Dame Grease, who is known for establishing the sound that landed The Lox a deal on Bad Boy, and for being the primary producer on It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot by DMX. Dame is typically thought to be a sample-free producer, but here he builds one of his signature dark, synthetic beats around an effected, eerie sample from Zimmer’s Gladiator score. While performing at a promotional appearance at a Microsoft store, MGK rapped “fuck these computers,” before being escorted off the premises. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?