Here’s a selection of obscure artists ripe for sampling.
It appears some people weren’t very happy with our guest post on Classic Artists Made For Hip-Hop Samples. That’s fair enough. It goes without saying everyone’s entitled to their opinion, including the person who wrote the article. But then we thought… how about obscure artists? The kind that most producers don’t even remember they’ve sampled so the lawsuit that hits them comes as a complete shock. Yeah, those artists!
We’re responsible though. We wouldn’t promote that kind of thing (at least not explicitly). So here are some obscure artists made for hip hop samples who you won’t have to remember to pay for use of their music because it’s free.
The Italian opera composer premiered his first opera in 1856 with only limited success and later became a teacher. Composing in the era of the more successful Giuseppe Verdi contributed to this and that’s why I’m calling him obscure. Opera is a unique choice for sampling so good luck with that.
A German composer this time. Piutti studied at the Leipzig Conservatory and wrote two hundred preludes, amongst other things. A lot of his work was religious as Piutti was Christian so if devotion music is your thing, you might enjoy this.
Now for something more contemporary and in the opposite direction. Monplaisir is a “French musician, recording weird folk, rock, classical guitar, but mostly with noise and distortion”. Still not in the popular sampling ballpark but this is all about obscurity. Monplaisir has 603 tracks available for free to use but he asks that you let him know if you use them “just for curiosity”.
Mohamed Fawzi maybe be more familiar to the 150m people of Egypt and Algeria but since we don’t have a large following from either country, we’re going to assume you, the reader, don’t know him that well. The Egyptian composer and singer is best known for composing the music for the Algerian national anthem but not much else outside North Africa. It’s also worth noting due to copyright laws, his music is only public domain in “most countries of Africa and Asia”, Canada, Belarus, Bolivia, New Zealand, Egypt and Uruguay as of writing today in 2019. In 18 years, it’ll be free everywhere else.
Leo Smith was a Dutch composer born in 1900. He moved to Paris and started a musical friendship with a group of composers known as Les Six. After a brief time in Brussels, he returned to his hometown of Amsterdam in 1937 and completed his last work, a sonata for flute and piano, in 1943. He was deported to Sobibor extermination camp later that year where he was murdered. His influences included the likes of Ravel and Stravinsky so expect a sonic journey through colour and ambiguous tonality. A great palette for off-kilter beats.
There are a ton of artists in the public domain, both popular and obscure, you can find and we highly recommend it. Sampling is about what inspires you and making it your own, regardless of popularity. We’re not naive to the way producers work; we’ve written about lawsuits before and know many don’t clear samples they use. That’s down to the sampler. But from a creative perspective, it’s an open playing field. How many times have you heard stories of Dilla’s friends thinking there wasn’t anything on a record, then he picked it up and flipped it into a jam? He flipped James Brown and Queen, both mentioned in the infamous Classic Artists Made For Hip-Hop Samples article! Anyone can get it.