Sampling =/= Stealing
August 26, 2009 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Jason Derulo's song "Watcha Say" which debuted at 54th on the Billboard Hot 100 and is currently 5th on the Itunes Top 100 list prominently samples Imogen Heap's song "Hide and Seek" without giving her credit. Sampling in rap music has a long and controversial history.
posted by kylej (46 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I was going to say I don't think Imogen Heap would ever use Autotune, though. I'd be more bothered by that then the sampling.

(On the other hand, the actual song has some kind of distortion going on the background of her voice)

But seriously Imogen Heap has a voice as awesome as her name.
posted by delmoi at 9:14 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was going to say I don't think Imogen Heap would ever use Autotune, though. I'd be more bothered by that then the sampling.

Sorry to threadsit, but according to the wikipedia page she uses a vocoder, not autotune.
posted by kylej at 9:17 PM on August 26, 2009


Is this a good place for me to post Kid Cudi's brilliant co-opting of Lady Gaga's acoustic "Poker Face"?
posted by hermitosis at 9:23 PM on August 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


Can anyone point to some actual evidence that Imogen Heap isn't being credited (even in the liner notes, for instance) and isn't receiving royalties?
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:31 PM on August 26, 2009


She definitely uses pitch shifting in a few songs as an effect, but not because she needs it. That lady can really sing. Whether it's actually the specific "Autotune" package, I have no idea.

I don't know much about her beyond the two albums I have, but she strikes me mostly as someone playing with technology to make stuff that sounds neat. She's got the raw talent, so it's not a crutch... it's more a toy.

Autotune and its ilk are only horrible when used to gloss over no-talent hacks who happen to look good. ACTUAL musicians can do some pretty interesting stuff with it.

Ok, that said: I'm not sure this is a good post, because there's no actual substantiation anywhere about any failure of giving credit. The links talk about what sampling is, who the singers involved are, and other problems that have happened with sampling in the past, but there's nothing whatsoever about this specific case.

The background's great, and nice to see, but there's no steak here, only sizzle.
posted by Malor at 9:40 PM on August 26, 2009


Yeah, how do we know he's not paying for the sample? This FPP smells funny.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:42 PM on August 26, 2009


Can anyone point to some actual evidence

They say that I stole this / I rebel with a raised fist / can I get a witness?
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:56 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did you know?

The first time a song and a song sampling said song were on the Billboard charts at the same time was in fall of 2008. Can you guess which songs they were?
posted by flatluigi at 10:00 PM on August 26, 2009


The first time a song and a song sampling said song were on the Billboard charts at the same time was in fall of 2008. Can you guess which songs they were?

Yes. Yes I can.
posted by lumensimus at 10:08 PM on August 26, 2009


Cool, good to know.
posted by flatluigi at 10:10 PM on August 26, 2009


If you pay enough for your sample you don't have to credit anyone. Old Jason must have bunged Imogen a weighty bag of cash in order to claim full credit for the song. Not really surprising she didn't want her name anywhere near this steaming autotuned turd of a song.

I notice Jason's song isn't available for download purchase in the UK, likely due to restrictions put on the sample.
posted by fernbritton at 10:11 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is good, about how the original song was created:

' Containing only her vocoded voice, “Hide and Seek” is an unlikely first single born in a flash of inspiration. “My favorite computer blew up on me,” Heap explains. “But I didn't want to leave the studio without having done anything that day. I saw the [DigiTech Vocalist Workstation] on a shelf and just plugged it into my little 4-track MiniDisc with my mic and my keyboard and pressed Record. The first thing that I sang was those first few lines, ‘Where are we? What the hell is going on?’ I set the vocalist to a four-note polyphony, so even if I play 10 notes on the keyboard, it will only choose four of them. It's quite nicely surprising when it comes back with a strange combination. When it gets really high in the second chorus, that's a result of it choosing higher rather than low notes, so I ended up going even higher to compensate, above the chord. I recorded it in, like, four-and-a-half minutes, and it ended up on the album in exactly the structure of how it came out of me then. I love it because it doesn't feel like my song. It just came out of nowhere, and I'm not questioning that one at all.” '
posted by fernbritton at 10:18 PM on August 26, 2009 [16 favorites]


The first time a song and a song sampling said song were on the Billboard charts at the same time was in fall of 2008. Can you guess which songs they were?

I'd be surprised if this and this wern't in the charts at the same time
posted by delmoi at 10:25 PM on August 26, 2009




Imogen made that song a bit before all the current asshattery started with the Autotune. It may very well have helped usher it in though.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:30 PM on August 26, 2009


Yeah, I would be surprised if 2008 was the first time the sample and original were in the charts at the same time. Maybe 1990?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:47 PM on August 26, 2009


Can't be bothered to look it up on the Billboard Charts (almost certain neither group was on them), but we could go even further back to Cavern and White Lines and a whole host of other party break early hiphop songs being released days after the records they were sampled from.

Are we certain that DeRulo actually sampled Heap, and not just the audio off of a YT parody video of The OC finale, at the height of the meme?
posted by stachemaster at 11:02 PM on August 26, 2009


As I understood it, it was Paper Planes and Swagger Like Us, though I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it had happened earlier.
posted by flatluigi at 11:07 PM on August 26, 2009


Sampling =/= Stealing

Lots of links that don't support an assertation =/= a good post
posted by 23skidoo at 11:21 PM on August 26, 2009


Hm, no one seems to have mentioned her new album that was just officially released, so now's as good a time as ever to do so. It's pretty good if you liked Speak For Yourself.
posted by spiderskull at 11:27 PM on August 26, 2009


Is this where I come to talk about the new Girl Talk album?
posted by hippybear at 11:40 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the sounds of it (and from the video of her reproducing the performance live), it's not a vocoder, but a harmonizer. The difference is that a vocoder analyzes a voice's texture and applies it to another instrument (usually synthesizer); in other words, the finished product isn't the voice, but another instrument with certain aspects of the voice grafted onto it. A harmonizer takes the voice and pitch-shifts and/or multiplies it based on MIDI information from another instrument; so, the final product is the same voice, just transposed and multiplied.

Autotune is another thing, although the technology is closer to a harmonizer than a vocoder, really.
posted by LMGM at 12:28 AM on August 27, 2009


Oh, forgot the link. Imogen Heap's performance of Hide and Seek live, where you can see the gear she uses to produce the song.

Bonus fun.
posted by LMGM at 12:31 AM on August 27, 2009


Look I don't know if he nicked it or what, but I do want to take this opportunity to say that Imogen Heap's music in general, and Hide and Seek in particular, are stellar.
posted by Sutekh at 1:27 AM on August 27, 2009


I saw that a while ago. What's amazing is that she makes it look so easy.
posted by delmoi at 2:22 AM on August 27, 2009


His label is Warner Brothers. Really doubt they didn't clear such a prominent sample.

I guess the complainers are expecting it to be credited to "Jason Derulo (feat. Imogen Heap)" but that's not how it works with samples.
posted by smackfu at 5:35 AM on August 27, 2009


OH NOS!! IZE GETNG PAYD BIG TIME BUTT IZE NOT GETTNG FAMOUSR!!!
posted by humannaire at 5:56 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not posting the comment I originally planned on posting because I just know one of you will steal it and pass it off as your own without crediting me.
posted by srboisvert at 6:09 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look I don't know if he nicked it or what, but I do want to take this opportunity to say that Imogen Heap's music in general, and Hide and Seek in particular, are stellar.

Agreed. Previously.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:27 AM on August 27, 2009


Yeah, there's no way they don't have some sort of arrangement going for this sample. Technically, though, I could see the argument that it should be "feat. Imogen Heap" considering the sample is basically half the fucking song.

Man, I love "Hide and Seek".
posted by graventy at 6:55 AM on August 27, 2009


Jason Derulo's song "Watcha Say" ... Sampling in rap music has a long and controversial history.

Please don't confuse this song with rap.

or music...
posted by wrok at 6:56 AM on August 27, 2009


Sampling in rap music has a long and controversial history.

Please also don't confuse this song with music.
posted by poppo at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh ok I see you covered that already, wrok
posted by poppo at 7:11 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lots of links that don't support an assertation =/= a good post

(After Lil Wayne)

I regret to informate/canna ovaundastate/u can't equalitize DeRulo, it's jus illogicate...
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:58 AM on August 27, 2009


I'd never heard of Ms Heap before (yes, I'm out of the loop sometimes), but that live performance of Hide And Seek sounds a lot like what Laurie Anderson was doing 15 years ago.
posted by hippybear at 8:07 AM on August 27, 2009


This is kind of a bad post, and borders on slander/libel, doesn't it?
posted by empath at 9:31 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember Laurie Anderson doing this stuff back in the late 70's maybe... on midnight special?
oh gawd I am OLD!
posted by HappyHippo at 2:13 PM on August 27, 2009




ppl should really stop bitching. i mean seriously i luv imogen too but seriously theres no way he cld hav made this song without her consent so get ovr it

...

Lordy, check out this one, it's even worse

Believe it or not, I like that one better than Jason Derulo. That first one is a steaming pile.

Are we certain that DeRulo actually sampled Heap, and not just the audio off of a YT parody video of The OC finale, at the height of the meme?

The OC also used the initial verses of Hide and Seek for Caleb's funeral. I guess if you're gonna pay for the song you might as well use all of it.

I like Hide and Seek. It's a guilty pleasure. This DeRulo song? No, sir.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:01 PM on August 27, 2009


Imogen Heaps' vocoder work is similar to Laurie Anderson, especially O Superman, but that does not mean Heap's music isn't absolutely fantastic.

In any case, things went downhill for Laurie Anderson when she married Burt Reynolds. I never saw that one coming, I can tell you.
posted by Sutekh at 4:04 PM on August 27, 2009


[citation needed]
posted by designbot at 4:14 PM on August 27, 2009


In the post title I said "without giving her credit". Considering that her singing makes up almost half of the song and is the chorus I feel like it should be have been "featuring Imogen Heap" or something like that.
posted by kylej at 4:47 PM on August 27, 2009


What bothers me about Jason's song (with or without permission) is that he very much takes it out of context. Jason's song is a super cheesy plea to his girl to forgive him for cheating on her, and then trying to satiate her by saying that when he gets rich, then he'll treat her right and give her what she wants.

"when i become a star
we´ll be living so large
i´ll do anything for you"


Heap's song has such a different feel, and is much deeper. As a fan of Heap's in general, and of this song, I feel like it's been ripped out of context and defiled. But, I am strangely emotional and protective of music I like.
posted by too bad you're not me at 4:53 PM on August 27, 2009


Woops,

*What bothers me about Jason's song (MINUS with or without permission)...etc

I should really re-read before posting.
posted by too bad you're not me at 4:56 PM on August 27, 2009


In the post title I said "without giving her credit". Considering that her singing makes up almost half of the song and is the chorus I feel like it should be have been "featuring Imogen Heap" or something like that.

Rest assured that "featuring" credits have nothing at all to do with giving credit where credit is due and everything to do with selling records by unknowns by putting [Popular Recording Artist]'s name on the cover.

In that respect, this (non-)incident is a good thing; Derulo's version won't sell nearly as well as if Heap got a "featuring."
posted by Sys Rq at 10:39 PM on August 27, 2009


I only knew about it from SNL. And she automatically had one more fan. I think that sampling with permission definitely boosts awareness for people like her.
posted by Michael Leung at 11:42 PM on August 27, 2009


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