Hip Hop music is often built around sampling. The producers find a cool drum pattern on one old record, a riff on another which they can manipulate, and maybe some vocals.
It’s an art that creates patchwork songs, made up of many of the best elements of other songs. Due to the origins of Hip Hop in the black communities of the U.S.A, the records sampled tend to be old funk and soul records.
On the 1996 album Endtroducing…, DJ Shadow elevates the art of sampling to stratospheric levels.
Although DJ Shadow didn’t actually make any of the music on the album, instead taking parts of other songs and stitching them together, there’s something special about the way he pieces together obscure samples to create masterpieces.
“Midnight In A Perfect World” was the lead single from that album, and is based primarily around two songs: “The Human Abstract” by David Axelrod (1969), which provides the main piano, and “Sekoilu Seestyy” by Pekka Pohjola, which is where he got the flanging pad which fills out the track.
There are various other elements of course, such as the vocals and the drums; but those two are the most obvious.
The song is a rich world of its own to get lost in, with the wistful piano and the rich, washed out chords underlying it. The drums are slow and purposeful. It’s an eclectic soulful tour de force in the world of instrumental hip hop, and sampling culture more generally.