Deborah Mannis-Gardner, a clearance agent whose job it is to clear samples for many of today's biggest rappers, gave a fascinating interview with Forbes where she delved into the gritty details of her job. She's gotten to know many rappers personally in her years in the business, working with Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Cash Money, and others, and even cited Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly as one of her favorite uses of samples in recent memory.
Not all her experiences have been good, however. She recalled the difficulty in working with Tyga, who "included stuff on his album Careless World: Rise Of The Last King that none of us were aware of and that’s why he got the cease and desist. He included a speech he wasn’t supposed to include on there. They actually had to pull it and re-release it." She also noted that several artists, including Prince and Stevie Wonder, no longer allow their songs to be sampled in any form, making life difficult even for artists who know them personally.
One of the biggest issues she's encountered in recent times has been the fallout from the "Blurred Lines" lawsuit. "I find the whole thing ludicrous and wrong," she said. "You’ve either sampled or interpolated something or you didn’t. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as having the same feel or similarity. Inspiration is not copyrightable." She also said that she believes urban music is unfairly targeted in copyright lawsuits, noting that many rock songs have similar chord progressions but aren't subject to the same level of scrutiny often applied to hip-hop.
Although Puff Daddy is known for his brash public persona, Mannis-Gardner said she's always seen a softer side to the Bad Boy head. "He was very respectful, very polite. There’s another side of him that people don’t always see, that I see and the people that I’ve introduced him to have seen." She recalled the time Irish singer Enya tried to deny him the right to cover one of her songs, and how he "got on the phone with her and got it reversed and got it approved."
You can read the interview in its entirety here.