Many Android music apps tout their ability to introduce listeners to new tunes by using secret algorithms or community input, but none of them can do what WhoSampled does. The free WhoSampled Android app, based on the popular website of the same name, helps you connect the musical present to the past by highlighting the song snippets that were used to build other songs. If you fancy yourself a musical historian, WhoSampled should find a home on your Android tablet or smartphone.
Putting Needle to Wax
WhoSampled isn’t a streaming music app like Pandora or Slacker Radio: it’s a true music-discovery app that’s focused on connecting the past to the present. You begin by keying in the name of an artist or song, which returns results on the fly. It’s a breeze to manually input data, but I would love a Shazam-like music recognition feature that identifies songs playing in the environment.
For example, when you type “lyrics” into the search box, WhoSampled displays the most-popular instances of that word, including artists (Lyrics Born, Lyricson) and songs (“Lyrics to Go,” “Listen to the Lyrics”). WhoSampled also displays the number of times an artist’s been sampled, covered, and remixed. According to WhoSampled, James Brown has been sampled more than 10,000 times!
Tapping the James Brown icon took me to a screen where I performed several actions, including participating in a James Brown forum discussion and viewing the tracks that The Godfather of Soul either performed or produced. The latter option proved the most interesting.
When I tapped “Funky Drummer,” WhoSampled listed the songs that sampled it (including Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Give the Drummer Some”) and, conveniently, the sample’s timestamp, so you know when it begins in the track in question. Select songs link to 7digital or YouTube clips so that you can listen to samples without leaving the app. A prominent Buy icon lets you purchase music from 7digital or Google Play.
A slide-out panel showcases the samples that are currently hot on the music charts. For example, Rotary Connection’s “Memory Band” powers A Tribe Called Quest’s recently released “Enough!!” The app shows the most popular cover songs and remixes, too. There’s also a Hall of Fame section that highlights the all-time most-sampled (The Winstons’ “Amen, Brother”), most-covered (Traditional Folk’s “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”), and most-remixed (DJ Chus and The Groove Foundation’s “That Feeling”) tracks. If you like digging in the crates, this is a very useful tool.
Bringing a finger to the My Library icon causes WhoSampled to scan your tablet or smartphone and display information about the songs it finds. It even works with relatively obscure music. For example, WhoSampled revealed that Ted Poley and Tony Harnell’s “City Escape” (from the Sonic Adventure 2 video game soundtrack) was sampled once and remixed twice. Likewise, WhoSampled accurately notes that L.L. Cool J’s “The Boomin’ System” contains several samples, including James Brown’s “The Payback” and Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise.” Very cool. Unfortunately, you must be logged into your Facebook account to access this feature.
Note: WhoSampled for iPhone now boasts Spotify integration, so you can scan the streaming service’s playlists to reveal song samples. Whosampled’s stated that the feature is headed to the Android version before the end of the year.
Hooray For WhoSampled
WhoSampled performs a very specialized take on music discovery that not only shows the connections between songs, but between musical eras, too. Despite lacking the iPhone version’s Spotify integration, Whosampled for Android gives you the tools to learn about the backbones to many of your favorite songs. And once you discover those backbones, launch Slacker Radio or Spotify, the co-Editors’ Choices for Android streaming music services, to give them a listen. WhoSampled is an Editors’ Choice for music discovery on Android.