In 2008, Girl Talk, the musical project of Gregg Gillis, released an
album titled Feed the Animals on a small independent American label
named Illegal Art. Gillis is a biomedical engineer turned laptop com-
puter remixer who creates music with “samples” of other musicians’
work— a technique that incorporates portions of existing sound re-
cordings into a newly collaged composition.1 Sampling can be done
using a variety of media and methods, including cutting up magnetic
audiotape on analog equipment, physically manipulating vinyl records
on a turntable, and remixing sounds using digital technologies like
computers or drum machines, among other techniques. De La Soul’s
Pasemaster Mase describes sampling as “taking sounds and meshing
them together and putting them all in time, to come up with some-
thing totally different.” The underground producer Kid 606 explains
sampling’s appeal in the following way: “It’s like Legos. If someone said,
‘Here’s a bunch of Legos, put them together,’ you have something to
work with— as opposed to, ‘Here’s a bunch of plastic, mold it, and then
start building it.’ ”2
Over the course of Girl Talk’s Feed the Animals, Gillis pieces to-
gether musical fragments from the work of over three hundred record-
ing artists. In doing so he effortlessly joins together (like Lego blocks)
music from traditionally isolated genres: metal riffs run alongside
love songs from the 1970s and West Coast rap; today’s pop gets down
with R&B from the 1960s and classic rock. With its hundreds of easily
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