‘Uh – Uh – Listen! First the Fatboys break up, now every day I wake up, somebody got a problem with Hov!’ – Be honest. Did you have the sample playing in the back of your mind when you read that lyric?
Yeah you did. Yeah! What a tune! Sampling massive hooks from older songs of a greater pedigree didn’t really fly for a while. And if you’ve got some ‘Haircut’ wincing out a committee written bar about nothing in particular over a sample of Gary Numan or Van Halen it just doesn’t ring true. It’s a cheap shot.
This though, This is archetypal. This is how it should be done. Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City is a 70’s jam of no small reputation. Bobby Bland’s 1974 version is the legend, Whitesnake’s 1978 version is the big crossover hit that meant headbangers for the next 20 years would know the song. Then Jay-Z in 2001 went back to the original and by laying some deeply personal rap over the top on The Blueprint made it all his own. No cheese, no debt.
He furthers a legacy by adding his own tale, from his own past, over a song he grew up listening to and loving.
Now I’m not comparing myself to Jay, but… Can I live?