Childish Gambino Inventing Hip-Hop’s Pre-Sample

Posted: March 26, 2014 in The Juice

imagesSay what you want about Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover if you’re more familiar with his acting and writing with Community and 30 Rock) and say what you want about his most recent album Because The Internet, but it changed the state of the hip-hop release to date. Not only did the 19-track release come with its own screenplay and an app only to be used during his on-going tour, but it might be responsible for hip-hop’s first pre-sample.

“Telegraph Ave”, by R&B singer Lloyd, plays as Gambino sings along during an angsty drive to an unknown lady friend’s place in Oakland, California. It goes through the activities and emotions leading up to this fateful meeting that Gambino knows is a bad idea, but lust compels him enough to make the drive. The song was never recorded in its entirety, as Gambino made the feature for the sole purpose of the initial track sequence. The song garnered an overwhelming response, with numerous Internet forums and blogs searching for a link to the original song. But recently, Lloyd received the green light from Gambino to record a full-version of the song for his upcoming album, The Playboy Diaries Vol. 2.

Childish Gambino managed to go around the commonplace activity of sampling a full song. Instead of taking an already complete song and using it for the relatively short sequence, he created a song performed by someone else to fit within the context of his story. Sure, there are probably hundreds of other songs that could have fit the emotion he was trying to convey. But what better way to ensure listeners knew how he was feeling in the moment than to cater it specifically to the album.

There are a few reasons why it was genius. It eliminated the need to pay for redistribution rights to another artist. The song didn’t have to be altered in order to get through a loophole in media law. It not only gave Lloyd new material for his upcoming album, but without trying, it helped to promote it. “Telegraph Ave” was possibly one of the best songs on the album, and ushered in hip-hop’s first pre-sample.

Does this mean we can look for more cleverly placed, strategically created tracks/collaborations in the future? We can only hope so. Maybe some other artist will catch on, allowing another artist to get some shine on their album and possible material for their own project.

If the Internet has anything to do with it, like in this scenario, I think we can look forward to more pre-samples.

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