Kanye West’s ‘Graduation’ is a Sampling Masterpiece

It’s albums like this that make it hard for me to tell you definitevley what my favorite Kanye album is. Have you ever wondered how Kanye West made this absolute masterpiece? Behind the iconic beats and profound lyrics, there lies a technique known as sampling, a crucial element in the world of hip-hop.

The Art of Sampling

Sampling, the creative process in music production where a portion of a sound recording is reused in a different song. The samples can be manipulated in various ways to create a completely new musical piece. Kanye West, being a maestro in the world of hip-hop, skillfully used sampling to add depth and made these tracks as iconic as we know them. Thereby creating a distinctive sound that has become synonymous with his music.

Kanye West’s Sampling Technique

West’s sampling technique is a testament to his innovative approach to music production. He skillfully combines different samples, often bridging the gap between various genres, and even decades, to create a unique sound that is instantly recognizable as his own.

Overview of ‘Graduation’

Graduation is Kanye West’s third studio album, released in 2007. The album is a fusion of various music styles, including hip-hop, synth-pop, and electronic music, demonstrating Kanye’s versatility as an artist. But what makes this album truly distinct is the extensive use of samples, which add a layer of complexity and richness to the tracks. 

‘Champion’ Sample

The song Champion samples Steely Dan’s 1976 single Kid Charlemagne. Kanye originally faced a refusal from Steely Dan when he asked for clearance to use the sample. After a heartfelt hand-written letter from West, explaining how the song was about his father and how much he admired their music, they granted him the permission.

‘I Wonder’ Sample

The track I Wonder is a perfect example of Kanye’s signature production technique of combining powerful beats with obscure samples. The track samples the piano and refrain of My Song by Labbi Siffre, a British jazz and soul musician from the 70s

‘Good Life’ Sample

Good Life, another well-known track from the album, subtly samples Michael Jackson’s Pretty Young Thing (P.Y.T) from his masterpiece Thriller. This sample plays a crucial part in the refrain of the track, adding an extra layer of depth to the catchy tune.

‘Stronger’ Sample

You can’t talk about Graduation without mentioning the famous Daft Punk sample in the track Stronger. This sample was so significant that it helped expose Daft Punk to a new hip-hop audience and led to further collaborations between Kanye and the electronic music duo.

‘Flashing Lights’ Sample

Kanye’s track Flashing Lights is a testament to his ability to pick apart a specific sound and start building the entire track around it. Using Curtis Mayfield’s Little Child Runnin’ Wild at minute 4:28 of a five and a half minute track and now we have a forever classic. 

‘Barry Bonds’ Sample

Barry Bonds, a track featuring Lil Wayne, samples Long Red by Mountain. This track showcases Kanye’s ability to take a sample from a rock song and seamlessly incorporate it into a hip-hop track.

‘Everything I Am’ Sample

The track Everything I Am samples If We Can’t Be Lovers by Prince Phillip Mitchell and Bring the Noise by Public Enemy.

‘Homecoming’ Sample

‘Homecoming’, featuring Chris Martin of Coldplay, samples ‘Home’ by Kanye West featuring John Legend. This track shows Kanye’s innovative use of self-sampling, where he uses a sample from his own track to create a new song.

‘The Glory’ Sample

The Glory samples Save the Country (Live) by Laura Nyro and ‘High Power Rap’ by Crash Crew. Kanye uses his ability to find distinct vocals that would shape up the sound of this track. 

‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ Sample

Can’t Tell Me Nothing samples I Got Money by Jeezy featuring T.I. and They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. 

‘Good Morning’ Sample

The track Good Morning samples Someone Saved My Life Tonight by Elton John. Kanye’s use of this sample adds a layer of soulfulness to the track.

‘Drunk and Hot Girls’ Sample

The track Drunk and Hot Girls samples Sing Swan Song by Can. This track showcases Kanye’s ability to incorporate samples from experimental rock bands into his music, creating a unique and distinctive sound.

Are you seeing now how great of an album this truly was? Despite your personal opinions, Kanye West’s Graduation serves as a masterclass in the art of sampling. His innovative use of iconic samples from different genres and eras, combined with his unique production techniques, results in a distinct sound that cerified him as one of the greats. Whether you are a budding music producer or a seasoned hip-hop fan, dissecting the samples on this album offers a sense of inspiration when you see how truly creative a human being can be. 


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