Every breath they take…: “The domination of mainstream hip-hop is a triumph for sampling in the same posthumous way that the Eagles’ Greatest Hits becoming the best selling album of all time would be a triumph for the nomadic spirit of Gram Parsons.” Look, everyone! It’s the Guardian‘s regular pop writer Tom Cox! And he’s talking out of his arse again! Oh, of course he’s not wrong about Puffy and Richard Blackwood making really bad records, but let’s look at this ‘domination of mainstream hip-hop’ again.

In England, it doesn’t even exist – Will Smith, Puff Daddy and that’s pretty much it, maybe ten singles a year in a chart with fifteen new entries a week. Now, both those men sample very obvious things. I’d say Smith does it well, Puffy does it badly. But that isn’t even a movement, let alone ‘domination’.

And in America? Most of the big-selling hip-hop at the moment is being made without using samples at all, as far as I can tell: it’s synth noise and drum machines all the way for the likes of the Ruff Ryders stable. Now, I’m sure Cox has his problems with that too, but Puffy is hardly king of the hill anymore. And the producers that do use samples tend to do what producers have always done – they look around a bit and find out what works: is the Egyptian flute sample from Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin'” common currency? Hardly.

In other words, if Cox’s argument was any more straw-man it’d be holding hands with Judy Garland. Either Cox is dim or ignorant enough not to have realised that Blackwood is a typical TV novelty act (the modern equivalent of his beloved 1974’s Benny Hill) and that nobody likes Puff Daddy anymore, or he’s just cynically writing this kind of nonsense as part of his campaign to get us all listening to the fucking Wondermints. Either way he shouldn’t be doing the job he is.

There are a hell of a lot of ways to attack mainstream hip-hop, and sampling for that matter, with bite. Unfortunately for Cox, they all rather require listening to some.