Pablo Picasso said that a good artist borrows and a great artist steals. Or, at least, he might have said that. Thing is, when it comes to great art, ownership can be hard to trace. But that hasn't stopped people from trying to keep great artists from stealing. Hip-hop is built around this fluid sense of artistic ownership: instrumental grooves, bass lines and drum breaks are lifted from old soul, funk and jazz sides and grafted into a new composition in a process known as sampling. But what happens when the original musicians (and their publishing houses) want credit and remuneration for their contributions? The documentary Copyright Criminals traces the evolution of hip-hop and the centrality of sampling over the past three decades. The film features commentary by hip-hop pioneers from Public Enemy and De La Soul as well as James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield (reportedly the world's most sampled musician) and funk pioneer George Clinton (pictured). Copyright Criminals screens tonight at 7 p.m. in the Lee Auditorium at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue). Admission is free; call 314-746-4599 or visit www.mohistory.org for more information.
Thu., Oct. 8, 2009