One needs to listen to only a few seconds of Deep Forest’s “Sweet Lullaby,” in the context of the original lullaby by Afunakwa Reorgwela, to begin to feel uncomfortable. The intimacy on Afunakwa’s untouched voice, the quality that makes the lullaby beautiful and even moving, has been distorted in Deep Forest’s track. He has put a chorus effect on the voice, opening up the once intimate sample into accessible to all of our Western ears. Backing this melody is an open, fluid synth, further emphasizing the openness that Deep Forest wants the listener to feel. Deep Forest has explicitly opened up a pointed, private song into an open one, and implicitly breaking the sacred, private space between mother and child, by allowing the listener in And we feel uncomfortable with this.
Jan Garbarek in “Pygmy Sample” encountered this sample via “Sweet Lullaby.” The saxophone playing the melody cannot be readily identified as being sampled from a Solomon woman’s lullaby, as the “world markers” of Afunakwa’s voice, such as timbre and language, have been excluded. Yet the song feels innately like world music because Garbarek chooses to add into the mix other “world markers” to maintain the “worldliness” of the song, such as the metal shaker playing on two and four and what sounds like tabla holding down the rhythm section. The discomfort here is the contradiction between the westernization of the original lullaby—in being played on a saxaphone—and the addition of other world markers. Afunakwa has been lost, yet Her exoticism has been replaced by the markers mentioned above.
On the other side of this argument are MIA, Diplo, Baile Funke. Unequivocally Becky Done Gun,” has profound similarities to Deize Tigrona in melodic rhythms, contour, and timbre. Played back to back, MIA clearly has strong roots in Baile Funke music. This is manifested most significantly in the sampling of the Rocky melody in both songs. In “Becky Done Gun,” it sounds as if MIA is sampling the Rocky theme from Deize Tigrona, whom it sounds like recorded the sample on low-tech, accessible equipment. Contrary to the first example, this example elicits little to no discomfort.
In both of these examples, well-known artists are sampling exotic music. Yet we feel uncomfortable with one and not the other. I think this has to do with the history of colonialism we associate with sampling. When a Western artist, such as Deep Forest, takes an indigenous form of music and makes it accessible to Western ears, by popularizing it and by limiting its exoticness, we feel discomfort and sympathy for Afunakwa. This discomfort is founded in guilt. This guilt stems from an association of this form of sampling with connotations of 18th through 20th century colonialism. (In example: The small pox epidemic upon Native Americans). The lack of uneasiness with the MIA and Deize Tigrona example further emphasizes this idea as the world pop star MIA—not a white, Western name—has sampled an “indegnous”—at least in some ways, form of music.
Global ghettotech seems a more accurate representation of World Music, mainly because World Music, and all the associations that come with it, is an almost obsolete term at this point. It is a term that was constructed by Westerners to pool music into a single paradigm that did not fit within existing ones, while simultaneously trying to legitimize such a paradigm as a real category of music. We ourselves have created the “global makers” that categorize world music as world music (In example: A didgeridoo is always associated with world music). Global ghettotech represents and is a manifestation of what is actually occurring within the world. It’s “organic” world music, not a category that has been forced. Everybody has accessibility to technology, albeit there is some disparity between the quality of technology, and musical ideas of the whole world. Hybrids are popping up all over the place, especially in urban environments where the demand for dance music is particularly stressed. The category, and type of music put into the category, is naturally happening with Western hands-off.