This is How Madlib Finds Obscure Records to Sample


Madlib has a knack for finding obscure and eclectic samples.

His beats have left me thinking, how did he find that sample?

So, I decided to do what I do best โ€“ dig. But instead of searching for samples, I searched for secrets.

What I found was surprising.

He listens to a wide range of music

Madlib considers himself as more than “just a hip-hopper.”

“I used to only like hip-hop and jazz,” he said. “Now I listen to everything. In my collection, you’ll see rock and classical, even house. I’m grown up now, you just don’t stay with the same shit.”

Thanks to his eclectic listening habits, Madlib has a wider range of inspiration to draw from when he makes beats.

He doesn’t think too hard about the source

Madlib is notorious for sampling random music. Whether it’s Brazilian Bossa Nova, or old soundtracks, you never know what to expect from his beats.

But there doesn’t seem to be any method to the madness.

According to Madlib, even he doesn’t know what to expect.

“When I make beats, I just pick a record up and go,” he said. “A lot of times I don’t even look at what it is.”

This blind approach is a major contributor to his seemingly random sample choices.

He samples whatever’s available

Most surprisingly, Madlib makes very little effort to qualify the records he collects.

“When I go and buy records, you’re never going to see me up there listening to them in the store,” he said. “I try to challenge myself. If I buy a record, I gotta do something with it. I do that with every record I buy. Just make something out of whatever you have, the best you know how.”

Where other producers will narrow their selections, Madlib does the opposite. This forces him to be creative with the records he has available.

Sample selection at its strangest.

How to find obscure records like Madlib

Madlib’s crate digging approach isn’t for beginners. But for producers who like to mix things up, it’s a very rewarding strategy.

“Always be different,” he said. “Challenge yourself. Don’t be scared to try new things. Once you get bored, challenge yourself to do something you wouldn’t think you would do.”

To apply these strategies into your own music, start by prioritizing quantity over quality. Instead of trying to find the best samples, look for more samples.

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