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The Formula, Season 1: A Video Series On The Science Of Sampling

In hip-hop, sampling is a little like alchemy. Producers go hunting for raw material — be it a drum break from a dollar-bin funk record or a vocal hook ripped from today's pop charts — so they can chop, loop, warp and recombine it into something totally new. It's an art form that rearranges space and time, and even when you know how it works, it can still feel like magic.

The Formula is a new NPR video series that takes you inside the creative process of sampling. Five acclaimed hip-hop producers break down their work, demonstrating how specific samples build layers of mood and meaning in songs ranging from recent hits by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to classics by The Notorious B.I.G and Gang Starr, as vivid animation illustrates how all the pieces fit together. Each video is paired with a companion essay by a fellow producer or critic.

Watch all episodes of Season 2 of The Formula here.

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