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Nation's Rappers Down To Last Two Samples

LOS ANGELES—In an announcement that has caused grave concern within the nation's hip-hop community, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) revealed Monday that only two songs remain for rappers to sample, Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" and Styx's "Mr. Roboto."

Rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs, a.k.a. Puff Daddy, has vowed to bid "whatever it takes" to obtain the rights to the two remaining unsampled pop songs.

"Such albums as Puff Daddy's No Way Out and Mase's Harlem World have taken a heavy toll on our nation's precious sample reserves, ASCAP president Richard Goffin said. "Our nation's rap artists must now face the consequences of their failure to conserve this all-too-finite resource."

With such artists as Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Method Man all slated to begin work on new albums in the next six months, bidding for the sample rights to "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" and "Mr. Roboto" is expected to be fierce. Puff Daddy, a.k.a. Sean "Puffy" Combs, has already stated that he is willing to pay up to $20 million for the rights to the ukulele line in "Tiptoe" alone.

"Yo, I got to get that 'Tiptoe' track," Combs said in an interview in The Source magazine. "I ain't got an album without it."

Styx spokespersons said the band will attempt to maximize profits from "Mr. Roboto" by selling off the hit song from 1983's Kilroy Was Here piecemeal. "Our asking price for the song's 'Domo Arigato' spoken-word intro with synthesizer backing is $25 million," Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo said. "As far as the lyric, 'My blood is boiling, my heart is human, my brain IBM,' goes, I can't imagine we would be asking any less than $55 million for that."

While Monday's ASCAP announcement stunned rappers across the U.S., signs of the impending crisis were present years ago. In 1989, James Brown became the first sample source to be exhausted, when the Jungle Brothers used a snippet of Brown sneezing during an outtake for "The Big Payback" on its album Done By The Forces Of Nature. By 1992, the music of numerous other high-profile artists was exhausted, including George Clinton, Rick James, Kool & The Gang, Prince and Queen. By 1995, nearly 80 percent of ASCAP-registered artists were tapped out as sample sources, including Roxette, Peaches & Herb, Bruce Hornsby, White Lion and Jon Secada.

Last Friday, the number of unsampled songs fell to two when rapper Master P paid $12 million for the rights to "Is It Love," the B-side to the 1986 Mr. Mister hit "Broken Wings."

"This is an extremely serious situation," said Def Jam president Russell Simmons, whose label—which has featured such artists as Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, EPMD, and LL Cool J—was responsible for much of the sample depletion of the mid- to late '80s. "Rappers may have to wait upwards of 10 years between albums, until there's enough new pop songs to sample. Other than that, the only solution is for rappers to come up with the music themselves. Let's just hope it never comes to that."

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