Website Review - Whosampled.com

Website Review - Whosampled.com

You’re sitting at the bar with some pals when a familiar tune comes over the jukebox. One friend pops his head up and says, “Nice, a little Ice Cube.” Another nods and says, “All right, the Isley Brothers!” Some tense glances are exchanged while everyone waits to see if you’re listening to “It Was a Good Day” or “Footsteps in the Dark.”

That kind of scene is a natural byproduct of the hip-hop era, where sampling has blurred the distinction between many original recordings and their re-purposed offspring. The going has long been difficult for fans who want to pick apart their favorite tracks and uncover the artists behind the horn riffs and breakbeats. Those secondhand crate-diggers finally have an invaluable tool at their disposal with whosampled.com.

The whosampled concept is pretty simple: users make side-by-side postings of the original songs and the tracks that sampled them, with time stamp notations more or less pinpointing the sample’s appearance in each. Some of them are instantly evident – no one who’s heard Young MC’s “Bust a Move” could help but snap to attention at the 1:49 mark of Ballin’ Jack’s “Found a Child”– while others require a bit more unpacking. Whoever picked out the brief Kool & the Gang horn riff in Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s “For Pete’s Sake,” for instance, has considerably sharper ears than most.

The site is a guaranteed time bandit for anyone with an interest in musical ephemera. Say you’re interested in the origins of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” Whosampled informs you that Biz grabbed a beat from Lee Dorsey’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman.” Digging further, you see that same beat was employed on Black Moon’s “U Da Man,” which also sampled an organ lick from Keni Burke’s “Risin’ to the Top,” which in turned was featured on Notorious B.I.G.’s “Rap Phenomenon” and so on and so on until you’ve blown a whole evening playing the hip-hop equivalent of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

It’s not a perfect site by any means. The parameters are a little murky (Should Sheb Wooley quoting The Royal Teens’ “Short Shorts” in “Purple People Eater” really count as a sample?), and the inclusion of cover songs dilutes the dynamic a bit. And of course, there are still many, many unattributed samples out there. Quibbles aside, though, whosampled is a fantastic concept executed in absorbing, easy-to-use fashion. It’s the rare music site that has equal merit as a research tool and a time-waster.

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