In 1991, one of the most influential court cases in the history of Hip Hop took place when singer/songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan sued rapper Biz Markie over the use of a sample taken from O’Sullivan’s song “Alone Again (Naturally).”
At this time, sampling was used heavily in Hip Hop and was featured in the songs of a large majority of artists in the genre. Groups like The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and De La Soul all had numerous songs with samples that were not always cleared with the original creators of the work being sampled. Up until Biz Markie’s case, most claims of unauthorized sampling were settled out of court.
As a result of Biz Markie losing this case, every single sample had to be cleared with the original artist and any other right’s holders. This limited the freedom of Hip Hop artists immensely and many records, including Biz Markie’s, were forcibly pulled from record stores and either rereleased with only cleared samples or scrapped because of the cost of clearing the samples.
My installation is meant to be a critique/protest of Gilbert O’Sullivan and the ridiculousness of United States copyright laws.
This five foot by ten foot print of O’Sullivan is meant to be an overwhelming and ominous artifact
of the man who forever changed sample based music.
These pieces show the process I have taken in order to pirate the original O’Sullivan vinyl single.
The materiality of the resin and the imperfectness of my hand mean that the pirated record
will never sound the same as the original, therefore making it a unique record in it’s own right.
In this 44 second sound loop the original 11 second sample, in question during the above mentioned court case, is juxtaposed
next to two different interpolations I have created. The first is a midi sound file I created using the tabulation software Guitar Pro 6.
The second is a recording of myself playing an electric piano and an electronic drum kit.
Both of the interpolations I tabulated and recorded are linked below and are FREE to download and use as you please.
Audio Sample Download Links:
Since I’ve returned from Winter Break I’ve been focusing a lot of my time researching things like hip hop’s use of sampling, copyright law, and how basically everything has already been done before. One video series I came across entitled Everything is a Remix does a great job in explaining the idea of remixing as it pertains to music. movies, technology, etc.
This research is something that I will take advantage of in our March BFA show and I believe this will be a path that I pursue for the rest of my time in this BFA program. My artist’s statement will need a complete reconstruction but I am excited to explore the legal, moral and ethical issues of “originality” in my artwork.