My creative journey has been an odd one. I'm not the musician in the family. That distinctive honor belongs to my brother. I was always on the edge of it, but was too much into sports to dedicate myself to it. I really didn't get into the creation aspect until 1995-1996. When I first started I knew what sampling was, but didn't know how it was done. I didn't know what a sampler was. My cousin let me and my brother borrow his DR-5 Rhythm Machine and I was off from there. Then from there I got the Roland 909 Groovebox. So for about the first six or seven years of beat making I didn't sample and I didn't realize how impressive that was. I thought it was normal, but I sure did like the beats that had sample a whole hell of a lot more. The SP-303 was my first sampler and I loved it. By that time I started hanging around others whose main source of music was sampling. They had the big ass machine though and I wanted my hands on one so bad. It was the MPC 2000. I started working in a studio that had one so that was my de-facto MPC. I then later on ended up trading my 303 for the MPC 1000. All the bells and whistles of the 2000 but in smaller form. From there I was off. Learned all the different ways of sampling and some secret techniques. I rode this wave for a while. Then as I graduated to computer based production and incorporating sampling I got bored. So I reverted back to going all original and I've noticed some things in doing that:
1. I love having the ability to control every single instrument. From the melody, chord progression, to dynamics I feel more liberated when going original than sampling.
2. Sampling is not a crutch. I used to treat it as such. Sampling is definitely an artform and you can get really creative with sampling thanks to technology. Sampling is far more advanced than it was not only 30 years ago, but even 10 years ago.
3. Sound design. Those two words have changed my life over the past two years. The warmth and lo-fi feel of records can be replicated, not perfectly, but you can get pretty close to it. Aside from that just creating your own pads, synths, arps and all that is, once again, liberating.
4. Layering over your samples is a beautiful thing. It made me learn basic music theory. I used to make a beat with a sample, filter the bass line, and move to the next beat. Or worse, if I could filter the sample well enough I just made a beat with no low end (yuck).
Then learning how to get in the key of the sample after a pitch shift or any other octave change and layering over that opens a lot of doors to creation. You can do that, then pull the sample out and basically have your own composition.
5. This is where I'm at now--re-sampling yourself. This has been the main thing for me lately. I would compose an eight to 16 bar composition and re-sample it. I would go through the process of sound design, mixing and everything then re-sample to give it that feel. Plus once you've done that and made something dope as hell...NO SAMPLE CLEARANCES!!!!
I'm for either one of these personally. I don't have a preference. It really all depends on my mood at the time of creating. The end goal is always the same though.
Make dope shit.