by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
aesop rock, copying, music

Aesop Rock Admits That Copying Others Is How He Makes Music

from the good-for-him dept

We've discussed many times how creators copy all the time, and mentioned the T.S. Eliot quote:
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.
This is often shortened to something along the lines of "good artists copy, great artists steal" (and attributed to Picasso). Even so, outside of pure mashup artists, it's rare to see artists admit that they copy others for inspiration. However, Jon Lawrence points us to a cool "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session at Reddit by the famed hip hop artist Aesop Rock (who, I never realized until now, attended high school at the same time I did, just one town over). At one point, someone asks him "what inspires your beats," and Aesop gives him a straightforward answer:
i just listen to old music til i hear a sound i like - then i steal it. rinse, repeat.
The thing is, assuming he means "copy" and not "steal" (sorry, sticking point around here), that's true of tons of creators, though just as Aesop does, they then do something cool and amazing with it. Still it's nice to see an artist of Aesop's stature willing to admit it up front. It's just too bad that those who don't understand how art works keep wanting to make this illegal.

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  1. icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), 8 Nov 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: But he didn't say "share",did he?

    We've argued these topics for years and we've built a perfectly usable definition of fair use

    Except that fair use no longer covers sampling, and artists like Aesop are forced to license every single split-second clip they use in a song or risk being sued...

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