Beastie Boys on Strategic Sampling

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Every day, leaders are tasked with creating strategic plans. Whether the plans are intended to improve the organization or an individual, we sit in front of the blank computer screen frustrating ourselves and those around us as we try to invent groundbreaking solutions out of thin air. Good news, you don’t have to magically conjure a plan. Use a trick from the Beastie Boys.

The Beastie Boys is one of the greatest bands of all time.* If you’re not familiar with their unique sound, the Beastie Boys combined rap and rock with a sampling of past recordings from other artists. Some might say that sampling is derivative, a cheap imitation of the original. I’ll agree with you in regards to a few artists, but not the Beastie Boys. As the famous music producer Mark Ronson stated in a recent TedTalk,

They weren’t sampling these records because they were too lazy to write their own music. They weren’t sampling these records to cash in on the familiarity of the original stuff… they were sampling those records because they heard something in that music that spoke to them that they instantly wanted to inject themselves into the narrative of that music.

Here are a few ways you can sample like a Beastie Boy:

Be original. If you find something you like, change the names, and rebrand it as your own, you are plagiarizing, not sampling. Sampling is taking pieces of things you like and blending them into a personalized solution.

Add something new. Sampling is great but your final product should not be a conglomeration of samples. Mark Ronson said, “You can’t just hijack nostalgia wholesale…You have to take an element of those things and then bring something fresh and new to it.”

Find the unfamiliar. Anyone can utilize an idea/initiative that’s already popular. The Beastie Boys found obscure tracks to mix into their songs. Be innovative and look for best practices that are not a passé fad.

Give credit. There’s no shame in sampling from the great minds of our day. Therefore, it’s okay to be open about who you sampled from. The Beastie Boys paid artists when they sampled. This may not be necessary for you, I’m just suggesting that a heartfelt thank you is not so unreasonable.

We don’t have to start from nothing. There’s an endless supply of resources, advice, etc. that has already been developed. With some research and preparation, you’ll be able to form a personalized library of samples that are ready for use. It may not be as much fun as “fighting for your right to party,” but once you get organized and put this into action, “you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop.”


* This is a factual, objective statement that needs no further explanation.

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