On Sunday, Kendrick Lamar released his latest single, "The Heart Part 5." In the tune, he samples Marvin Gaye's 1976 track "I Want You."
It's notable to music fans because the permission of the Gaye estate holds significant weight. The estate typically does not allow samples (or any infringement as made clear with the Robin Thicke lawsuit).
There are a lot of business reasons for this type of vigilance, but one that's compelling is the concept of artistic integrity — of controlling personal brand and presence and ultimately commanding the narrative in an era that makes it harder and harder to do so.
Without knowing if it had any weight in the estate's decision-making, it's also poignant to note that Gaye's "I Want You" holds autobiographical significance as a chronicle of his love for Janis Hunter. Whether or not the tune's personal nature heightens its preciousness, or any stakes concerning its remixes, samples or its recommodification, is unknown.
On the individual level, it's difficult to establish these types of boundaries that protect an intentional online identity in 2022, especially over what is precious to us and the commodification of our very real, yet digital, stories. We're led to believe once it's online, it's fair game. The struggles of artists and musicians aside, it's natural for your average person to cede control over copies, variations, dissemination, and proliferation.
Artistic integrity and the act of commanding the narrative from a past era is an interesting lens through which we can approach the new era of our own online narratives and data protection.
With a nod to the artistry of Marvin Gaye, what would it mean for each of us to cultivate this type of vigilance and integrity in our own lives, and seek out technology that upholds that agency?
DSARs and beyond
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Osano is one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces of 2022
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