It all started when I tweeted:
Aseroff: Kanye’s new Bon Iver track isn’t sampling. It isn’t homage. It’s plain plagiarism.
after listening to “Lost in the World,” the final track of Kayne West’s latest album, which is essentially 5% rap and 95% “Woods” by Bon Iver.
Among reasonable responses, such as this one from my dear friend and fellow musician Analise:
Lalalanalise: It wouldn’t be his first offense.
Aseroff: Don’t I know it. I just hate how he becomes critically acclaimed by piggybacking on much more talented artists.
Lalalanalise: Seriously. Though he just confirmed my feelings of Pitchfork being a bunch of serial wankers. 10/10. HA. Wow. Just. Wow.
That is what a nice, critical debate looks like. Well, more or less.
Then, after a retweet from an e-friend, some rando from Oklahoma drinks some Haterade and summons up the strength and courage to defend the most famous rapper alive.
MF_Fried: Bon Iver helped Kanye with the recording of his album so Bon Iver was cool with it. Ps woods is a rip off of hide and seek.
I did a little research and confirmed the first part, Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon contributed on several tracks for Kanye. Didn’t see anything about Kanye helping with Bon Iver’s album, which seems unlikely because Kanye isn’t the type of person to be an uncredited producer, especially on a critically successful indie-folk album.
The postscript was just reeking with ignorance, however, and I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap is a surprisingly worthy comparison to “Woods,” but….well, lets just say class is in session:
Aseroff: How can you say “Woods” is a ripoff of “Hide and Seek” while simultaneously defending Kayne’s “Lost in the World”? “Woods” and “Hide and Seek” are both spacey, repetitive auto-tune songs, but that’s where the similarities end. “Lost” doesn’t change anything about “Woods”, except speed it and up and shit to it- worthless backtracks and awful rapping. P.S.- Justin Vernon’s permission doesn’t mean I have to respect Kanye’s “artistic songwriting” when he didn’t write shit.
"That oughta shut him up," I thought. But I only fueled the ragemachine, receiving this carefully articulated response-
MF_Fried: 1 hide and seek did that shut first. 2. If you don’t respect Vernons signe off why not just hate Bon Iver from now on. They’ve totally sold out for recording with Kanye. What tools! Especially since Kanye is just a cash cow and gets no real critical clout. Oh wait, everyone and there mom as given his album perfect or near perfect score.
He starts his rebuttal with his weakest argument, riddled with spelling errors. Bold strategy. If we use the “it’s been done” strategy to determine authorship of music, then we’ve severely narrowed down our list of musicians to a whole bunch of dead Europeans. The subtlety of my argument, which, of course, goes right over Mr. MF_Fried’s head, is that there is a difference between “it’s been done” and sampling. Where “Woods” can credit “Hide and Seek” as a direct influence or ancestor, it doesn’t sample or quote any musical motifs, where as “Lost in the World” directly poaches Bon Iver’s entire song, note for note.
Aseroff: By your logic, “Hide and Seek” ripped off “O Superman,” by Laurie Anderson. Of course, this isn’t true, each are individual tracks, each with its own individual merit. I argue Kanye’s sampling was not variation on a style, but directly piggybacking on Bon Iver’s success, regardless of Bon Iver’s consent. Just like Daft Punk in “Stronger,” Kayne’s version will become the popular version of what are essentially two texts of the same song, which discredits the original, (superior) work. You don’t have to agree with me though, I don’t care. I don’t even know you. I just hope logic will prevail through your dense skull.
The following is the response of a troll that got called out:
MF_Fried: one of my friends is following you and rt’d your idiocy. Keep ridge that indie pole all the way to no where because despite all your bickering, Bone Iver likes Kanye and not you. Oh and Kanyes version of stronger was infinitely better. Because daft punk sucks. All that said I’ll defend to the death your right to call Kanye West a Douchebag, prick; or egomaniac. Ps if you new anything about hip hol you’d realize the sort of thing is part of it. If you don’t like I have some profound advice. Quit. Listening. To. Hip. Hop. Music.
MF_Fried: by your logic Kanyes sampling is not a variation style but piggy backing on Bon Ivers success. Kanye has been selling platinum albums for almost ten years. Bon Iver has sold around 130000 units. Sounds like Bon Iver’s piggy backing on Kanye.
Where to begin? Clearly he is raising the white flag of intellectual debate, opting instead to argue moot points, cite random numbers, and criticize Daft Punk, the unrivaled pioneers of popular techno.
Aseroff: You can’t piggyback if you’re the creator of the content. Cause you don’t need to. Did Daft Punk need to piggyback Kanye for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”? No. Cause they’re the authority on popular techno. Likewise, Bon Iver doesn’t need exposure.
Aseroff: Also, Kanye IS an egomaniac, but that has nothing to do with sampling. Also, learn to music history before you try to ‘teach’ me about Hip Hop. If you knew anything, you’d know that one of the most important debates in modern musicology is this very debate of authorship in a world of hip hop sampling. Telling people who argue against sampling to “stop listening to hip hop” is trolling, not contributing to the debate. And for the final point- “Stronger” was utter garbage. But that’s just my opinion, man.
I post this dialog not because I wanted to flex my musicological muscles, but to raise awareness of this important debate in music that is directly relevant to today. When you buy music, be aware of what kind of musician you’re supporting. I realize it is hard to like hip-hop right now without supporting musicians that are guilty of musical poaching, but the least you can do is be aware of the original musicians, and support them, because more than likely the reason you like a hip-hop song is not the name on the front, but the name that follows “Feat.” in the title.
EDIT: @Orew has brought this relevant newspaper headline to my attention: http://imgur.com/IUGND
EDIT #2: A horrendously written review of “Fantasy” came out in the ND Observer, and I feel like it’s relevant to the discussion.
”No Exaggeration Necessary" by Mac Henderickson
which garnered the following responses:
“Real Hip-Hop" by Michael Turner
“No Need To Exaggerate" by Jake Robinson
and also further reading, another musician’s perspective, my friend JD Dyslexic:
“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" via JD Dyslexog
- aseroff posted this