Frank’s post at Concurring Opinions about remixing and the nature of creation reminded me of a Fresh Air interview with Mos Def from December 22, 2004. In the interview Gross acknowledges Def’s talents including playing instruments (time sig. approx 27th min.) and then suggests that some think that rap’s sampling roots erodes young people’s playing of instruments. Def disabuses her of the notion by recounting live musicians’ role in rap. In addition, he holds that sampling stems from budget cutbacks in the school system (time sig. approx 28th min.). He notes that music classes “disappeared” but “the creative impulse” persisted. So without resources for music lessons, the kids turned to their parents records and made songs based on the resources available. He further points out that the phenomenon led to connoisseurship and people with hundreds to thousands of records across all genres so that they could have access to the tools to find “the perfect beat” which they would create via sampling.
These views seem to comport with the idea that creativity of its nature entails using cultural vocabulary and to implicate issues of access to knowledge. I think one could argue based on Def’s presentation that restricted access to knowledge tools may foster creative communities to take what they can to continue creating. Once that happens, value is perceived in the new use of the material. When that happens, rest assured someone will show up and claim her property was used and she is owed a fee. I am not saying that the claim will always be false. I am saying such claims should be examined to see whether they should or should not be honored.