SAMPLED is a column that examines the skeletal production of a contemporary Rap/R&B/Hip-Hop or Pop song. From what song did the loop, sample, or chopped up vocal providing the backbone for a new interpretation originate? We look at the original song with some historical context, and then review the modern-day production that samples the original. For better or worse, this is the process by which a huge portion of contemporary pop music is assembled. On a weekly basis, SAMPLED aims to approach it case-by-case, and examine the dividing practice of using samples in the creation of music.
This week, the sample in question comes from The Sylvers’ 1972 ballad “How Love Hurts”:
Originally from Memphis, The Sylvers were a family-based soul/R&B group active from the early-seventies until the mid-eighties, featuring a rotating cast of ten siblings. Prior to becoming known as The Sylvers (and yes, their last name is Sylvers), the four oldest siblings recorded music as The Little Angels, opening for musical acts such as Johnny Mathis and Ray Charles. As other siblings became old enough to join the group, The Little Angels changed their name to The Sylvers in 1972, and began recording the R&B/dance/disco music that would define their career. A creative partnership with Motown-records veteran songwriter (known for his work with The Jackson 5) Freddie Perren led to the group’s big breakthrough in 1975, a number one single called “Boogie Fever.” The Sylvers would work with Perren for the next two years, until they decided to write and produce music for themselves. Their next album (New Horizons) was a commercial disappointment, and the album after that was rejected by their record company. The group found a new home on Soul Train impresario Don Cornelius’ record label upstart Casablanca Records, and released two of their most critically acclaimed records to moderate commercial success. As America’s appetite for dance music dissipated in the eighties, so did The Sylver’s popularity. After two more unsuccessful albums, the Sylvers disbaneded in 1985. “How Love Hurts” appeared on The Sylvers’ debut self-titled album. It was written by Leon Sylver, and produced by R&B legends Jerry Butler and Keg Johnson.
“How Love Hurts” was recently sampled by Kendrick Lamar on “Westside, Right On Time,” a song featuring Young Jeezy and produced by Canei Finch:
Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar released “Westside, Right On Time” as part of Top Dawg Entertainment’s Fam Appreciation Week in mid-August. As anticipation mounts for good kid, m.A.A.d city, the eyes of the entire hip-hop community are focussed on Kendrick Lamar, to see if his new record can live up to the hype he’s been building for the past year. He’s joined by fellow-Californian Young Jeezy on this smooth mid-tempo banger, subtly announcing the resurgence of the west coast’s presence (and dominance) in hip-hop. You can’t interpret the track as an east coast diss, given that “Westside, Right On Time” was produced by New York-based producer Canei Finch, best known for co-producing “Live Your Life,” by T.I. (featuring Rihanna) with Just Blaze. Before we applaud Finch for his sample selection, this isn’t the first time “How Love Hurts” has been sampled in a hip-hop beat — you might have heard it before on Skyzoo’s “The Beautiful Decay,” produced by 9th Wonder. Some producers consider it a hack move to use a sample that’s already been prominently used, but given that this probably isn’t an album track, we’ll let it slide.