Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge: “We encourage today’s hip-hop artists to close the laptop, put down the sampler and spend time creating with live instruments”

Fender’s marketing is on-point right now, and it looks set to expand into film-making, judging from its new documentary with A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, entitled Artform.

In the clip, the producers - who most recently worked on the soundtrack for Marvel’s Luke Cage series and released an album as the Midnight Hour - detail their journey from sampling records to picking up real instruments and using them as a basis for re-sampling.

“My journey started with hearing hip-hop producers sample from the greatest records,” said composer and producer Adrian Younge.

“It served as a conduit to the past and introduced me to the classic sounds and instruments used to create these records. We made this film to encourage today’s hip-hop artists to close the laptop, put down the sampler and spend time creating with live instruments, like the guitar and bass. What we can accomplish as musicians is limitless when we dig deep and uncover where these sounds come from.”

As well as the artistic benefits of picking up instruments, Shaheed also highlights the fact that you then take ownership of all the music.

“When you sample someone else’s music, that diminishes your share of that song,” he told The Independent. “So when you pick up the instruments, guess what? You increase your ownership.

“Not taking the risk to tap into your own mind - you realise you just gave away a lot. You don’t wanna stifle the art, but when you’re creating the ideas… it’s more gratifying, I think.”

We came together to make this kind of statement, to show the real side of who uses these instruments - which is everybody

The producers go on to share their techniques for recording during the clip, including running a Fender P-Bass through a Twin guitar amp for an old-school tone.

“Most major guitar companies fail to focus their marketing on a black and urban demographic,” Younge told The Independent, “because a lot of these companies feel as though black people only use instruments in church, or something.”

“From Kendrick Lamar to whoever else, everybody uses these instruments. Fender felt the same way, so we came together to make this kind of statement, to show the real side of who uses these instruments - which is everybody. It’s not just the hair-metal guy or the rockstar. Everybody has a different reason why they love guitars.”

The pair are also releasing a limited-edition Precision Bass to celebrate the film’s release - more on that here.

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