The issue of sample clearances is just one of the ways the music industry elite entrenches power and wealth for decades past the point of relevance. Ruthless legal manuvering allowed The Rolling Stones to walk off with the publishing rights to The Verve's 1997 megahit "Bittersweet Symphony." The multimillion-dollar payday was thanks to a sample from a cover of "The Last Time" by the Stones, a version which bore no resemblance to the 1965 original. Just this year, it was revealed that 90% of the royalties for Ariana Grande's "7 rings" go to Rodgers and Hammerstein, the deceased writers of the song "My Favorite Things," prominently sampled on Grande's number one song.
These are two high-profile examples. But every day, there are new producers who attempt to make music inspired by the sample-based music they grew up with and are met with the cold reality. That's what inspired Logic's Twitter blow-up on sample clearances on Tuesday. "Fuck clearing samples. Fuck people taking all a producers money for not doing shit and fuck the companies that say no just cuz.... Fuck the money. This why mixtapes was so good."
However, the rapper's tweet overlooked why the issue is so contentious, and how it's manipulated by the powerful: protecting the original artists, and ensuring that they are fairly compensated. It also omits hip-hop history. For example, most of De La Soul's classic catalog is unavailable on streaming services thanks to sample clearance issues.
Logic attempted to clarify in a statement posted on Tuesday: "I think its insane an artist can do everything they can to track down, clear and pay for a sample and give publishing to the original creator. And if they can't be found by the best sample people there is... that a producer shouldn't suffer or lose a placement. And that the money and publishing should be set aside for them if they or anyone in their estate comes forward."
While not an airtight proposal by any stretch, Logic's frustration with the business of samples is more than understandable. It's keeping with history.