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"It's a context issue, because not every sample is a huge chunk of a song. [...] An example that's often brought up in court when we get sued over sampling is a Biz Markie track where he more or less used a whole Gilbert O'Sullivan song. Because it was such an obvious sample, it's the example lawyers use when trying to prove that sampling is stealing. And that's really frustrating to us as artists who sample, because sampling can be a totally different thing than that."

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, on the legal issues of sampling, The Remix Masters (Wired interview)


"If creativity is a field, copyright is the fence."

John Oswald, written on his Myspace profile

Taking a portion of an existing musical work, and putting it in a show, video, or another musical work. Not to be confused with interpolation, which is replaying the said portion.

If it's in a show or movie doesn't count if it's meant to be part of the soundtrack. It has to be lifted from something else.

It's mostly associated with Hip Hop and other types of music (such as industrial rock, and electronic music), but it can appear in some Fan Work, like Abridged Series (as long as there is no profit, it can fit under fair use laws).

Now it's unoriginal by definition, but it's not copyright infringement, as long as the source is either public domain or properly licensed out. And done right, it can be a great way to add mood to an extra work. Sadly, copyright law is still extremely murky in this area, as most rap producers in The Eighties ignored the laws without consequence, and only a few landmark lawsuits, such as the Grand Upright Music Ltd. vs. Warner Bros. Records Inc. case of 1991 established that sampling must be approved by original copyright owners.

There are many methods of sampling, but the most widespread nowadays and the one attracting the most Hatedom is the "loop-it-and-leave-it" method, which basically implies sampling a part of or a whole song, repeating it, and then rapping over it. This often attracts criticism because of its "lazy" and "unoriginal" nature. Compare, for example, "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy, with its telegraphed-from-a-mile-away easily recognizable sample (from "Every Breath You Take" by The Police), or the Bomb Squad's work with Public Enemy, with its dense layers of samples that aren't easily recognizable.

If you're interested in lists of who sampled what and where, The-Breaks and Who Sampled are great reference sites.

Rock Me, Amadeus is a Sub-Trope. Sampled Up is where the sampler eclipses the samplee.

Examples should be either non-straight, due to the widespread use of it, or particularly notable.

Examples of Sampling include:


  • Negativland.
    • Speaking of which, they got in trouble for sampling U2. The album with songs sampled from such band would get re-released 10 years later as These Guys Are from England and Who Gives a Shit.
      • Casey Kasem was probably less than thrilled with the use of some of his swearier outtakes.
  • Radiohead makes some interesting usage of samples:
    • "Idioteque" samples "Mild und Leise" by Paul Lansky and "Short Piece" by Arthur Krieger. The Lansky sample was so vital to the song that the band sent him a letter telling him they'd sampled him for the track and wanted to make sure it was okay with him.
      • The song's bizarre beat and the background chirps were reportedly created from playing a ton of records all at the same time (creating white noise) and feeding them through a drum machine.
    • "Kinetic" samples the drums from "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" by Miles Davis.
    • "Cuttooth" samples the bassline from "If I Needed Someone." This is speculated to be the reason that the track (well-liked by the band and a favorite among fans) was left off of "Amnesiac" and relegated to the "Knives Out" single- Beatles samples are notoriously expensive, so hiding the track someplace where only hardcore fans would find it would get the song out there, but decrease the likelihood of the band from being sued.
    • "Dollars and Cents" samples an Alice Coltrane song for the bass.
    • There's a very well-hidden sample in "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy." The recurring downward melody appears to be played by a keyboard or distorted string instruments- but if you speed the song up, it's revealed to be a loop of a choir doing vocal exercises.
    • "Motion Picture Soundtrack"'s harp parts are sampled from various old Disney movies.
    • "Give Up the Ghost" and "Codex" feature sampled bird noises, which serve to transition from the former to the latter.


  • The album version of "U Don't Know Me" by Armand Van Helden contained a sample from (of all things) a Dial M For Monkey cartoon.
  • Virtually every track from the Goa Trance and Psychedelic Trance genres samples a movie, usually a sci-fi one.
  • The JAMS got in trouble for sampling ABBA. So they burned the albums in a field.
  • "Cola Bottle Baby" got sped up and sampled into "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk. This wouldn't be notable, except that that song got sampled into Stronger by Kanye West, slowing back down in the process.
    • Kanye himself is one of the most prolific samplers in the industry; see his page.
    • Although West only sampled the new Daft Punk vocals, so the original melody is kind of lost.
    • Daft Punk also deserves an award for Most Unlikely Techno Sample: "Superheroes" is based around a sample from Barry Manilow (the song "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed").
      • Daft Punk does a lot of sampling, actually. It's fun to try to figure out which parts are samples and where the samples came from.
      • In fact, the reason their album Discovery received the nicknames veryDisco and Disco? Very! was partly because of the sampling on the album.
  • Most of Fatboy Slim's best work is the sample-based You've Come A Long Way, Baby era. Later, as part of settlement over a dispute of whether he actually had the rights to one of the samples or not, he released a compilation album consisting of sixteen of the tracks he sampled. It's actually quite freaky in places.
  • The only thing that wasn't sampled in The Residents' The Tunes of Two Cities was vocals and guitar.
  • Girl Talk has released two CDs of mashup songs each composed solely of a dozen or so samples each. A whole host of music users thank the fair use doctrine for allowing him to do so.
  • The French group Justice do microsampling (Using split-second samples). Their first album has over 400 samples.
  • The Avalanches is this trope personified, using sampling in all of their songs with varying success.
  • Sampling video game music is surprisingly more common than one would think. "Diplo Rhythm" takes its beat from a most unlikely source: Ocean's NES game based on Platoon.
  • The "cosmic forces beyond all comprehension" line from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was sampled in the Mixe Plural mix of Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy's "Kiss Me", and later, Freaky Chakra's "Hyperspace".
  • Basshunter based "DOTA" and "All I Ever Wanted" on Daddy DJ's self-titled song, and sampled Reel 2 Real's "I Like to Move It" in "Saturday", his latest single.
    • As a meta-example, "I Like to Move It" samples the "yeaaaaaaah" vocal from Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel".
  • Covenant's "Shelter" is built around a sample from The Atomic Cafe: "The atom bomb explodes again!" :nuclear explosion:(several times) "Atomic energy." :sirens: :birds chirping: :explosion: :explosion: :explosion: for the rest of the song.
  • The Atomic Cafe was also sampled on KMFDM's Don't Blow Your Top album, particularly in "Oh Look".


  • Reportedly, Sufjan Stevens' album Enjoy Your Rabbit had extensive sampling... from songs that Stevens had recorded himself and never released.

Hip Hop

  • Arguable Trope Codifier - The KLF, which stands for Kopyright Liberation Foundation. They were art-terrorist types who built a musical career on silly, blatant sampling done with no permission, upsetting a lot of people. Particularly ABBA.
  • The groups which have used this technique to most critical acclaim are: the Beastie Boys (Paul's Boutique, produced in collaboration with the Dust Brothers and sampling a whopping total of 105 songs/movies), Public Enemy (the Bomb Squad were famous for creating noisy, intense songs from lots of samples at once), DJ Shadow (Endtroducing....) and Esham (Judgement Day).
  • The Wu-Tang Clan loved using clips from old Chop Socky flicks.
  • A rare example of a song from an anime being sampled in a Western track would be a sample from "Rain by Yoko Kanno sped up to produce "The Rain" by indie hip hop artist Tech N9ne. At the very end, the clip slows down and Mai Yamane's distinctive voice can be heard.
  • Wiz Khalifa's song "Never Been" samples "Schala's Theme" from Chrono Trigger.
    • The Green Hill Zone theme from Sonic the Hedgehog was used as the background effect in "Ms. Rightfernow".
  • Mr. Scruff likewise builds a great deal of his music out of samples. Probably his best-known—since it was used in several commercials—is "Get A Move On", which tears down and reconstructs an old Moondog track, "Bird's Lament".
  • The "Oh-wha-oh!" from The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" was sampled for "Check It Out" by Nicki Minaj featuring
    • Also in Orbital's "Don't Stop Me".
  • Puff Daddy and his Bad Boy record label often get the worst criticism for simplistic sampling methods. One example is "Come With Me", which samples from "Kashmir" (and correspondingly credits Jimmy Page), and "I'll Be Missing You", a sample from the Police's "Every Breath You Take". A oft-repeated joke theory is that Puff Daddy - or whatever he's going by this month - keeps changing his nickname so he can steal his own music.
  • Rapper A-1 did an album, After School Special, where each song samples the theme song of and is about a show he used to watch as a kid, including Reading Rainbow, Nickelodeon's All That, and Pokemon.
  • Rapper Fabolous samples "Dance of Curse" from Vision of Escaflowne in the song Body Bag.
  • Producer The 45 King sampled the chorus "It's a Hard Knock Life" from The Musical Annie for Jay Z's song "Hard Knock Life". He also turned the first two lines of Dido's "Thank You" into the chorus of Eminem's song "Stan".
  • Flo Rida garnered a truly legendary amount of backlash and hatedom over his songs "Right Round" and "Sugar", which shamelessly sample Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" and Eifel 65's "Blue" respectively.
  • Rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony samples fighting game Eternal Champions for the song "Eternal"
  • Play the Public Enemy instrumental "Security of the First World" to anyone who was alive and listened to radio/watched MTV in 1990. Ask what song it's from. Don't be surprised if they say it's from Madonna.
  • Eminem samples Soul Calibur's "Cervantes’ Theme" for the song "Hellbound"
  • Kool G Rap sampled the Final Fantasy VII battle theme in "We Gs". Yes, really.
    • Another FFVII example, rapper Cam'ron samples "One Wing Angel" in "Troublemakers".
  • This rap samples the track "Star of Darkness" from Secret of Mana.
  • Bun B samples Justice on "On to the Next Year"
  • Busta Rhymes has a few: "Touch It" famously samples "Technologic" by Daft Punk; "This Means War!!!" samples "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath; and "Dangerous" samples the first four lyrics from "We're Not Candy", a 1983 Long Island Regional Poison Control Council Public Service Announcement warning children that pills are not candy.
  • As this Genius video showcases, Doug E. Fresh and MC Ricky D (AKA Slick Rick)'s "La Di Da Di" has been sampled or interpolated over 800 times. Some examples include:


  • Some bands do this in reverse, taking sound clips from movies or tv shows and inserting them into their songs. Dream Theater in particular does this often, a good chunk of "Space-Dye Vest" is made up of sound bites, and the first minute or so of "The Great Debate" is news clips.
  • Dragonforce used the Double Dragon theme in one of their songs. Although it wasn't a direct sample. It was a guitar riff.
  • White Zombie is a rare (non industrial) metal example in using extensive sampling, mostly from old B movies, with some Rush Limbaugh, Batman, and Manson Family thrown in.
  • Mr. Bungle used samples heavily in their self-titled debut, mostly from NES games, but also two infamous clips from a porno and a puppet show that share the band's name.
  • Machinae Supremacy has movie dialogue samples in some of their songs. For example, in Hybrid:

"Welcome to Rivendell, Mr Anderson."



  • Ur-Example - The Amen Break from an otherwise unknown song "Amen Brother". Used thousands of times, including in underground techno, by famous Drum and Bass artists (Squarepusher, Venetian Snares, et cetera) and rap.
    • Another Ur-Example: The Funky Drummer break, used an insane amount of times, and which also managed to spread beyond hip-hop and into pop.
  • John Bonham's drum break from Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" is a perennial favourite with samplers, as is the synthesizer riff from Tubeway Army's "Are 'Friends' Electric".


  • Probably the earliest use of sampling was The Beatles' "I Am The Walrus", on which they (with permission) used samples from a BBC Radio production of King Lear.



  • In probably the outright laziest cut and paste example, Jason DeRulo's "Whatcha Say" samples "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap; not just the beat, the ACTUAL CLIP FROM THE SONG, lyrics and all.
    • And then he outdid himself with "Don't Wanna Go Home", which not only interpolates the chorus from "The Banana Boat Song", but also samples the backbeat from Robin S.' "Show Me Love". With a random Lil Jon line also thrown in for good measure.
    • "Fight For You" heavily samples "Africa" by Toto.


  • The Verve: "Bittersweet Symphony", sampling an orchestral rendition of the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time". The Rolling Stones' manager sued, won, got royalties and credits on the album. The band broke up shortly thereafter because they'd made no profit after the lawsuit.
  • On two separate occasions, Eels have sampled themselves: "Efil's God" is largely based around backwards loops of earlier track "Dog's Life", while a short violin phrase in "Selective Memory" later was prominently looped in "Fresh Feeling".
  • Mark De Gli Antoni of Soul Coughing built his keyboard lines entirely out of samples from multiple sources, some from his own work pre-dating the band itself. At least two Soul Coughing songs ("Bus To Beelzebub" and "Disseminated") are built almost entirely around Raymond Scott samples.
  • Space absolutely loved doing this, particularly in the early days. Spiders is very heavy on samples - the one that stands out the most being the Elephant Man sample on 'No One Understands' - as are several B-sides.
  • Sublime was notorious for sampling, not just actual parts of songs but lyrics as well, most famous example: "Doin' Time" ("Summertime" from Porgy and Bess), but most of their songs had at least one sample.
  • Fastball's "The Way" begins with a series of sampled clips amidst the sounds of a television changing channels. One of the sampled sounds is a vocal clip from Jewel's "Foolish Games".
  • "Acid Drops" by Public Image Ltd samples "God Save The Queen" by The Sex Pistols, John Lydon's previous band. The effect is sort of interesting - because the vocal sample is being used in a song with a slower tempo and a different chord progression, it can sound like John Lydon has just started singing the line "no future" towards the end as a self-reference... Then the rest of the music drops out and it becomes apparent that it's a loop taken straight from the Sex Pistols song.


  • Possibly the weirdest example ever: the opening theme song to the Hellsing OVA, "A World Without Logos," samples from "When You Wish Upon a Star." It's nigh-impossible to pick out unless you know exactly what you're listening for.
    • More specifically, listen for the flute sample at about 2:10 into the song. The surrounding strings are also part of the sample, but the flute melody is particularly distinctive.
  • Here's an obscure one for you: "Hick It Up" from the Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 soundtrack. That drum riff sound familiar? You'd half expect it to turn into a ballroom blitz.
  • The Drakengard soundtrack is actually almost entirely sampled from various classical pieces, then chopped, cut, distorted, and mashed back together to make one utterly abstract and cacophonous (but very awesome) body of work.