One issue that I’d like to avoid in my work analysing Tokona’s work is ‘sample snitching’. DJ Premier has previously called out people who put out mixtapes of the original works and pictures of hip-hop artists who ‘sampled’ the original and also given his opinion on bloggers who reveal samples in his music. I’d love to have written about songs I suspect may have been sampled or just sound similar, but I don’t really want to be a ‘snitch’. Though would I really be a snitch? I don’t actually know if those songs (I’d talk about) were sampled or not and sometimes I can’t find out if the sample (that’s if there even was a sample) was declared or not. I’ll have to sleep on it and really think about how I want to go forward.
A big part of the music for me, is looking at how samples have been used and what they bring to the track. Seeing as this was done in Japan and the parent label is Def Jam, I don’t think I’d be highlighting anything that wasn’t declared. Aside from that, similarities to other works are probably not intentional and I have no actual knowledge of, nor would I be alleging that anything was sampled that shouldn’t have been.
For me, this is a big thing. I’m not a fan of snitching on artists for their samples and I really respect DJ Premier, his work and his opinions. This struggle that I’m having with myself speaks to the culture of Hip-Hop and Rap music. It’s a culture that’s about building on the past. I don’t think Premier is against paying people what they’re due, but as he says, there are artists he’s sampled that don’t like or respect Rap music, so those samples have to go in under the radar. This is a conflict between a culture of sharing and collaboration against a culture of ownership and theft. I suspect that in Japan, all of the samples will have been meticulously cleared as that’s the culture there. But then, we’re talking about Japanese artists involved in Hip-Hop. I’d guess that they’re more in tune with the culture of the music they’re creating than with the ‘establishment’, so you never know. I’ll definitely be looking into that aspect of the culture in relation to Japan, but for now, I might just keep my opinions about samples that I think I can hear to myself.