In the summer of 1989, the Beastie Boys released Paul’s Boutique, the long-awaited follow-up to their multiplatinum 1986 smash License to Ill, and a marked departure from it—they had abandoned the jokey, simple style of their debut for an extravagant, textured, musical mosaic. That multilayered sound was provided by the Dust Brothers, Los Angeles-based producers/DJs and specialists of sampling.
Sampling—extrapolating pieces of previously existing musical works into new compositions—had been a cornerstone of hip-hop from its humble beginnings, the turntable transforming from an electronic appliance into an instrument for would-be musicians who couldn’t play, or afford, more entrenched instruments. But on Paul’s Boutique, the Dust Brothers (like the Bomb Squad on Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Prince Paul on De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising) transformed sampling from a necessity to an art form. They sampled from more than 100 songs on the album’s 15 tracks, exponentially grafting elements of the old to create something vibrantly new.
Quentin Tarantino was listening. In his early screenplays, he couldn’t help but write in the language of the films he’d seen and loved, and as a result, they were filled with references and homages, a line here, a scene there, a character in this script, a situation in that one. It may have been a choice; it was more likely just the way he saw the world. In his book Quentin Tarantino: Life at the Extremes, Aaron Barlow calls Tarantino “perhaps the first director to speak ‘film’ natively and fluently in his discussions of the world” and writes that “he negotiates reality through film.”