EM Editor's Note: Sampling, Then and Now

This month marks the 20th Anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest''s The Low End Theory, a landmark project widely recognized for ushering in a new era of hip-hop production. Bob Power, who engineered the record, was at the forefront of the movement, crafting complex, elaborate constructions of samples that would have been impossible to perform by real players, in real time.
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This month marks the 20th Anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest''s The Low End Theory, a landmark project widely recognized for ushering in a new era of hip-hop production. Bob Power, who engineered the record, was at the forefront of the movement, crafting complex, elaborate constructions of samples that would have been impossible to perform by real players, in real time.

Working in the box, we tend to take the ease of sample-based production for granted, but back in the day, it wasn''t so simple: In our interview with Power, he reminisces about the endless layering involved on the album; how, using an Akai sampler with a whopping 75K of memory (that''s about two seconds of sample time), he worked meticulously, laying tracks, loading samples, and repeating. And repeating.

Well, we''ve come a long way since 1991. In our “Loops, Samples, Kits!” Roundup, obsessive looper Craig Anderton takes a look at the latest generation of sound libraries, which include everything from truly realistic samples of exotic and rare instruments to highly tweakable construction kits to a convincing virtual rock band. And if you''re feeling a little more DIY, Craig''s “Refined Repetition” Master Class breaks loop construction down into 11 easy steps—whether you''re creating loops for hip-hop, techno, or straight-up rock and roll.