DE LA SOUL, GEORGE CLINTON
One thing to take away from this movie: Clyde Stubblefield is one chill dude. Perhaps even more importantly, though, copyright law isn’t just something that the guy in the dorm room down the hall needs to worry about. Imagine for a moment a world without Paul’s Boutique or It Takes a Nation of Millions. Imagine, basically, that hip-hop as we know it was never born. OK, you can stop imagining. I know, it’s scary.
The film does two things. First, it tells the history of sampling through interviews with the people who were there: DJs, musicians, producers and, yes, lawyers. Then it starts asking big questions: Can you own a sound? What do we mean by "art"? What exactly is property, anyway? What’s with George Clinton (just generally)?
Not surprisingly, the film has a point of view. It makes the point that we all lose by letting our society be so anal about intellectual property. As it happens, I agree (somebody should have made some money off The Grey Album, right?). But even if you don’t agree, there’s still an awful lot of fun to be had in getting to hear these guys wax poetic about their own art. Who knew Mix Master Mike was so eloquent? Or that DJ Spooky had such an expansive sense of artistic value? Who knew how much it pains these guys to know that their art is not really considered legal?
Oh, and maybe this goes without saying, but the soundtrack is sick.