Amanda Sewell deposited How Copyright Affected the Musical Style and Critical Reception of Sample-Based Hip-Hop on Humanities Commons 5 years, 9 months ago
In 1991, the first lawsuit regarding sample-based hip hop, Grand Upright Music Ltd. v. Warner Brothers Records, was decided in court, and this decision forever changed how artists and their record labels approached sample-based hip hop. Although several lawsuits had been filed before 1991, all of those were settled out of court. There was no established legal precedent until this particular case. After 1991, artists changed how they sampled, largely out of fear of copyright infringement lawsuits. Hip-hop artists adapted and modified their musical language to accommodate the reduced availability of samples. Considering the music of five hip-hop groups, all of whom released sample-based music before and after 1991, I have developed a typology to quantify how the sample-based music of the Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Public Enemy, Salt ’n’ Pepa, and A Tribe Called Quest changed after 1991. The typology, which is a classification system for every individual sample in a sample-based hip-hop track, is a concrete language for discussing the structural components in sample-based hip hop. Each group adapted their production styles in interesting and creative ways in order to accommodate fewer available samples.