I was a freshman at the University when the Grammy Award winning single "I'll Be Missing You" by Faith Evans was released in 1997. It was one of the most popular songs on campus at that time and many 'would – be" artists used it to hone their skills at campus gigs.

The first time I heard the song, it felt very familiar and I knew I had heard something similar before. Of course! It was a sampling of The Police's 1983 song "Every Breath You Take" which many people didn't know about. "I'll Be Missing You" was so popular that it has become one of the best – selling singles of all time.

The Nigerian Artist Flavour released "Nwa Baby (Ashawo Remix)" in 2011 and it became an instant hit amongst Nigerians both within Nigeria and in the diaspora. What many people might not know is that Flavour's Nwa Baby had sampled another song "Sawale" by Rex Lawson. Sawale was released in the 1960's.

Sampling involves taking a portion of or a sample from a sound recording or musical composition and using it in a different song or piece. Before the piece is used, permission must be sought and received from the copyright owner to avoid infringement.

Sampling is quite a common phenomenon in the music industry across the world. In the 90's, American mainstream music heralded a huge number of sampling from Fugees' "Fu-Gee-La" to Sean Puffy Combs/Jimmy Page's "Come with Me".

Like everything else, sampling has its pros and cons and these must be thought through before an artist makes the decision to sample. If you are an artist/producer and you are considering sampling for your new song, the following information may be useful.


  • The use of the music from a popular artist can draw attention to the new song and create a buzz for it.
  • The use of the right sound can add flavour to the new song.
  • New styles of music can be created.
  • If the song has a popular phrase which is sampled, listeners will be attracted to this which will boost the song's popularity as well as the artist's.
  • Old music is kept alive by recreating it into a new piece or song.


  • The cost of obtaining a sampling clearance might be costly and the process lengthy as well.
  • If an artist decides to sample a song without obtaining clearance, this may result in a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Lawsuits are expensive so the necessary clearance should be obtained.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.