Leanne Macaspac | UI/UX Designer

M / UI/UX Designer

Data Visualization

James Brown: The most sampled man in showbiz

James Brown Poster

James Brown: The most sampled man in showbiz is a data vizualization of the top 400 popular records that sampled James Brown’s records, as recorded on WhoSampled.com, illustrating the legacy of his funk music.

How I did it

Inspired by a music history class I took in university, I collected data on James Brown and his most sampled music. According to WhoSampled.com, James Brown has been sampled over 10,000 times—almost twice the amount of samples that I discovered when I first printed this project in 2012. I knew that James Brown had a huge influence on hip hop music and I wanted to visualize that.

One of the project constraints was the large dataset. I narrowed the dataset down to James Brown’s top 20 sampled records and their top 20 popular records then manually constructed the chart using Illustrator and InDesign.

James Brown Poster: Close Up
James Brown Poster: Close Up

By collecting and visualizing this data, I discovered that James Brown’s influence transcends hip hop and has influenced records in other genres such as electronic, R&B and rock/pop. Despite a decline over time, James Brown still remains the most sampled artist in music history, thanks to recent artists like Kanye West, Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar.

This project is undergoing a digital makeover. Check back soon to see how I dive deeper into my research findings and translate this print project into an interactive visual essay.

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