Song Of The Day 9/17/2014: Labi Siffre - "I Got The..."

Hip Hop Samples: Today's song has been around the block so much it's practically a factory preset on samplers. (Wait, do they still make stand-alone samplers? Or do I just use my smartphone? I need to know now, Rob Van Winkle's coming over and we're going to lay down some beats that are dope.) Labi Siffre, who lately serves as a pungent anti-theist socially-minded poet, was also a British R&B singer and a damn good one at that. His original version of "It Must Be Love," made famous here by Madness, was one of the first Songs Of The Day. Time spent with his great 1975 album Remember My Song will cause you to forget what you were doing the hour beforehand and have trouble concentrating on whatever sundry chore you're supposed to do next, like picking up your kids from military school.

"I Got The..." from that album shows up in a lot of heavy-hitters' databases: Jay Z used it on "Streets Is Watching," Wu-Tang used it on "Can It Be All So Simple," Miguel used it a couple of years ago on "Kaleidoscope Dream," and -- most lethally, stupendously, ass-kickingly of all -- Shaquille O'Neal nabbed it for "No Hook," a track which exists and is something you can listen to. It features RZA and Method Man, with Shaq's verse slipped discreetly in the middle so you wouldn't be liable to notice. Good strategy.

The most universally known usage of "I Got The..." is, of course, as the primary hook of Eminem's first hit single "My Name Is." Siffre stipulated that producer Dr. Dre could use the sample if Eminem agreed to rewrite the lyric about his English teacher, which originally was "My English teacher wanted to have sex in junior high/The only problem was my English teacher was a guy." Siffre, openly gay, wasn't down with that connotation. So the lyric was changed to "My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high/Thanks a lot, next semester I'll be 35." Which quite honestly is a much funnier line from a structural point of view.

And Labi Siffre said, "Dissing the victims of bigotry – women as bitches, homosexuals as f*****s – is lazy writing. Diss the bigots not their victims. I denied sample rights till that lazy writing was removed. I should have stipulated all versions but at that time knew little about rap’s 'clean' & 'explicit' modes, so they managed to get the lazy lyric on versions other than the single and first album."

Hey, if it weren't for lazy writing, I wouldn't have this wildly thriving writing caree... aw, shoot, keep forgetting.

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