SAMPLED is a column that examines the skeletal production of a contemporary Rap/R&B/Hip-Hop or Pop song. From what song did the loop, sample, or chopped up vocal providing the backbone for a new interpretation originate? We look at the original song with some historical context, and then review the modern-day production that samples the original. For better or worse, this is the process by which a huge portion of contemporary pop music is assembled. On a weekly basis, SAMPLED aims to approach it case-by-case, and examine the dividing practice of using samples in the creation of music.
This week, the sample in question comes from Justin Timberlake’s 2002 Neptunes-produced hit “Like I Love You,” from his debut album Justified:
In 2002, Justin Timberlake splintered off from his hugely successful boyband *NSYNC, with the hope of crafting a more mature image for his solo career. His debut album, Justified, failed to outsell any *NSYNC release, but it did secure career longevity for the curly-haired Mickey Mouse Club alumni. The first single from Justified, “Like I Love You,” introduced people to Justin’s new, smooth persona, while showcasing the talents of up & coming Virginia Beach brotherly rap duo Clipse, featuring Pusha T and (No) Malice. Several hits on Justified (“Like I Love You,” “Seniorita,” “Rock Your Body”) brought the slick hip-hop production sound of The Neptunes to a more mainstream audience, and helped earn them a GRAMMY for Producer Of The Year in 2004. With little more than an acoustic guitar, drums, and a synthesizer, “Like I Love You” fused hip-hop production with slick radio-ready pop, defining the way the charts would sound for the rest of the decade.
“Like I Love You” was recently sampled by the band K-Pop boyband Boyfriend, on their eponymous single “Boyfriend.” That was a confusing sentence to write.
Justin Bieber isn’t the only one with a single called “Boyfriend” out in 2012. These guys even one-upped the Stratford hunk by calling their band Boyfriend, too. Clearly, the boyband revitalization project extends to the far reaches of K-Pop as well. Boyfriend are a six-member South Korean boy group, consiting of Kim Donghyun, Shim Hyunseong, Lee Jeongmin, Jo Youngmin, Jo Kwangmin and No Minwoo. K-Pop is more accessible than ever (see: The Internet), and though much of the K-Pop aesthetic is rooted in Western imitation, the bright colours and saccharine melodies of K-Pop have given the genre a cultural influence that is steadily expanding outside South Korean borders. The beat for “Boyfriend” was crafted by renowned K-Pop producer Brave Brothers (a.k.a. Kang Dong Chul), who is also known for writing and producing songs for other massively popular K-Pop acts, such as Sistar and Big Bang. Brave Brothers has sampled The Neptunes’ drum intro from “Like I Love You,” and used it throughout the entire song. The song sounds nothing like the source material, however, sounding more like an attempt at recreating Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Even with six layers of half-Korean/half-English crooning on top, you can still pinpoint the crisp snare hits from “Like I Love You” almost immediately. Nice work, Chad and Pharrell. Nice work, Justin. NOW GO MAKE A NEW RECORD. Please.