Videodrone: To Timbaland, All The World’s A Sample-Fest

Feb 9th, 2007 // 4 Comments

Last week, Timbaland made an appearance on the DC morning show Elliott In The Morning where he was asked, point-blank, about the “stolen track” controversy that floated around the Internet last month. It’s worth a listen, if not only for his postmodern take on 2007 musical culture, embodied in the line “everybody samples from everybody else.” (That slightly familiar sound you just heard was Cultural Studies grad students all over the country cheering because they’ve found thesis support on how the Era of American Originality is officially kaput.) He makes a sort of convincing case on that front, although calling his detractors “crazy” and “idiot(s)” is probably not the best way to win Internet hearts and minds.

Timbaland’s answer to this “controversy” [YouTube, via XXL]
Earlier: Timbaland Accused Of Timbalifting Another Musician’s Track


  1. Major Tom

    Yeah, he presents a pretty weak argument there. So, you can’t steal something from Finland when you’re in the US. While true, that may be difficult to do in person, what about, hey… the internet? And you don’t bother to have a person on staff, or at your label, do clearances …just because your record has a deadline coming up soon?

  2. Dr. Paul Proteus

    I think what he was saying is that he has a (no doubt) MASSIVE collection of material pulled out randomly to sample; and whenever possible he keeps all data in reference to where/who it came from.

    ANd if he decides to use something, he gives the info to whoever and they clear it. Chances are he pulled this off some random C64 site and it didn’t have any license reference so he/someone at the label thought it was fair use or public domain so it just got used.

    Also, get the eff out of here with any smack talking on Timbo. Whether or not he’s guilty of this, dude still is responsible for some of the greatest hip hop beats in the last decade. He has right to be a little confident- dude is one of the greatest producers in the game hands down.

  3. Kappuru

    um.. there is not really a difference between unlicensed sampling and stealing. he “sampled” the entire song and put a bassline and beat on it.
    i think he has talent, but his justification here is stupid.

  4. Rufus On Fire - David

    Paul, unless the creator states that you can use a work any way you wish, you can’t. If you don’t know where something came from, that’s all the more reason not to use it for a purpose that can’t be covered under fair use, e.g. a commercial record. We may not agree that that’s how things should be, but that’s the way they are. Ignorance is no defense. That’s why “I’m sorry officer. I didn’t know I couldn’t do that,” is funny.

    First, if your theory is true, that he uses samples willy nilly and trusts other people to get all the clearances, well, that’s kind of odd, don’t you think? For someone as high-profile as he is, it seems a little crazy that he wouldn’t be more careful. Second, the actual justifications he gives in the interview starts with “those people are nobodies, therefore I don’t care”, which is pretty f-ed up. Then he offers up that he didn’t know who originally did it, which is crap because, as stated before, ignorance is no defense. Then he offers up “Everybody samples from everybody else.” Again, this is crap. Just because a practice is prevalent doesn’t make it legal or okay to do. His argument about the Casio demo is asinine because that music still has a composer and a rights-holder that, legally, deserves credit and payment for its use. By the logic he presents, I could buy one of his CD’s and then simply publish his beats under my own name. Yeah, I’m sure he’d totally support that as “just sampling”, not stealing.

    Finally, to present yet another cynical aspect to this, Timbaland talks about how all the time “people come out of the woodwork” to say he stole this or that. Well, isn’t that just more evidence that there might be a problem, here? I mean, he’s talking about how he thinks using other people’s art as his own without crediting them is perfectly okay, and then he talks about how he always gets hassled about it.

    Also, that radio host has the worst fake-laugh ever.

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