Sampling is when an another artist digitally copies a piece of a song, perhaps a short drum break, a guitar riff, or a word, phrase, or wail, and uses it to build the background of his or her own song.
For a long time, that was the only way to construct a rap background, and the artists that were copied didn’t get paid.
James Brown, perhaps the most sampled man in show business, had no direct benefits coming back to him for years.
By the early 1990s, though, a system of requesting permission and negotiating payment for sampled material became the norm.
As a result, some commonly sampled artists who had long resented having their work “stolen” began welcoming young rap artists with their digital recorders and bags of money.
George Clinton and some other commonly sampled artists even released CDs with dozens of sample-friendly snippets to make copying them easy.