Hip-Hop Is Read has a lengthy post up with regards to sample compilations. It was prompted by Madlib’s recent request to another site to take down a compilation of the samples for the Madvillainy album. HHIR has been putting these things together for some time and I have to say I’ve downloaded a lot of them to great enjoyment. But the question of whether or not these comps are “healthy” for hip-hop is a reoccurring problem that fans and artists must face. In this case it seems the fan sites are missing the biggest and most obvious point, the samples are not all cleared. When samples are not cleared, it is illegal to use them. If you add transparency to this fact than you are basically helping the publishers out there that own these rights to sue the artists. Now to try to make an assessment on whether or not this is ultimately beneficial to the art form is beyond most people’s abilities. But lets just put a few things into perspective. The fact that sampling became a major issue for labels back in the early 90’s (thank Biz) does not just magically coincide with the change in production aesthetic in hip-hop. There is a direct connection between the litigious nature of sample clearances and the change from sample based hip-hop production to synthy drums and weak computer based melodies. Now if you were a fan of earlier hip-hop than maybe you think this hurts it. But then again, maybe all of this will lead to copyright reform? In that case, maybe it’s better for artists not to continue to hide their work. But I’ll tell you this, in the short term, if you put samples out there that current artists are using, you are doing more harm than good. Long term, who knows? We do happen to have some friends in congress – see Dj Drama Defended In Congress, HipHop Benefits.