What the hell are you talking about: Jay-Z


A few years back, a popular mix circulated among Internet-savvy hip-hop heads called “I’m not a writer, I’m a biter.” The mix plays various well-known hip-hop lyrics, Jay-Z’s near identical follows. A very simple example:

B.G.: Cash Money is an army, better yet a navy

Jay-Z: Rocafella is an army, better yet a navy

Jay-Z is surely one of our generation’s greatest, but this particular mix exposed that even hip-hop’s finest aren’t above interpolating…well, anything.

Thus it wasn’t shocking that Rare Essence had one of their choruses bit and redone on Jay-Z’s “Do it Again (Put Ya Hands Up).” Let’s take a PG look at RE’s song “Overnight Scenario” versus Jigga’s take. (Disclaimer: Rare Essence cranks. One of the few go-go groups on iTunes)

Overnight Scenario

3 in the morning at the pancake house/
4 in the morning we’ll be rolling to my house/
5 in the morning the lights go out/
6 in the morning you can hear us start to shout/
7 in the morning she’ll be calling a cab/
8 in the morning talking about the $&%^$ she had/
9 in the morning and she just getting home/

Set it Off

12 a.m. on the way to the club
1 a.m. DJ made it erupt
2 a.m. now I’m gettin’ with her
3 a.m. now I’m splittin’ with her
4 a.m. at the waffle house
5 a.m. now we at my hous
6 a.m. I be &$&$& her out
6:15 I be kickin’ her out
7 a.m. I’ma call my friends
12 a.m. we gon’ do it again

Pretty dang close, huh? Chris Richards’ piece goes on to say the group was angry but didn’t sue due to the cost, and likely due to the gray area of the law.

Hip-hop is built on re-envisioning others’ work, but go-go music has been getting the screw job nationally for way too long, so I can see why Rare Essence would take this so personally. The least Jay-Z could have done was get a co-sign for the track and invite them onto a remix or something, right?

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One Response to What the hell are you talking about: Jay-Z

  1. carsonata says:

    Licensed sampling, or riffing on someone else — even being inspired by someone else’s work are way different than out-and-out stealing actual lyrics or a distinctive song format. Pretty dang close is right. 😦

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