They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and in Hip Hop imitation is all over. Here are some well-known songs that rely heavily on (Hip Hop) songs of the past.
Jay-Z “99 Problems” (2003) / Ice-T “99 Problems” (1993)
The popular song was released in 2003 to critical acclaim and the phrase has become part of the public’s lexicon ever since. Although it will be a moniker forever closely associated with Jay, it was actually not coined by him. The phrase was created during a conversation between Ice-T and Brother Marquis of 2 Live Crew and subsequently used by Ice-T for his song of the same name. Ice-T’s Home Invasion was met with mixed reviews and nowhere near the praise of Jay-Z’s The Black Album. Chris Rock hearing the song years later told the super-producer Rick Rubin that Jay-Z should remake it and Rubin agreed. Although the choruses are the same, Jay-Z’s version becomes a narrative of racial profiling, and his “bitches” actually mean police dogs.
Coolio “Gangsta’s Paradise” (1995) / Stevie Wonder “Pastime Paradise” (1967)
Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” is one of the most well-known Hip Hop songs of all time. Never able to follow up the song’s success and the rapper quickly faded into obscurity. The song remained popular though and gave Coolio his place in Hip Hop history, and for that Coolio has Stevie Wonder to thank. “Gangsta’s Paradise” borrows Pastime Paradise’s melody, a song off of Wonder’s revered album Songs in the Key of Life. Coolio’s main contribution was changing the topic of the song to a regretful gangster from a critique on living in the past. According to Coolio Stevie thought the song was incredible, after of course it was demanded by the artist to be scrubbed of any profanity.
Notorious BIG “Hypnotize” (1997) / Slick Rick & Doug E Fresh “La Di Da Di” (1985)
Biggie’s most catchy chorus is not the work of himself or Diddy, it is instead the work of Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick. La Di Da Di is a cornerstone of Hip Hop because of the numerous songs that have interpolated its quotable lyrics. The most famous of these references was Biggie turning “Ricky Ricky Ricky, can’t you see? Somehow your words just hypnotize me, and I just love your jazzy ways, oh MC Rick my love is here to stay” into “Biggie Biggie Biggie, can’t you see? Somehow your words just hypnotize me, and I just love your flashy ways, I guess that’s why they’re broke and you’re so paid.”
Public Enemy “Fight the Power” (1989) / Isley Brothers “Fight the Power” (1975)
Surprisingly, the most powerful and politically charged song in Hip Hop was made at the request of Spike Lee. The director was making his critically praised movie “Do the Right Thing” and wanted an “angry and defiant” song to go with it, immediately thinking of Public Enemy. Chuck took the theme of the original, anti-abuse of power, and modernized it for the time period. Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers was originally inspired to write it after watching the news.
K-Solo “Real Solo Please Stand Up” (1990) / Eminem “Real Slim Shady” (2000)
Eminem was not the first to use “Will the real [person] please stand up?” as a chorus, K-Solo did it 1990 and since Solo or the song had nowhere near the same impact of Em nobody knows. Both phrases were most likely taken from the popular game show To Tell The Truth, where at the end of the game the question “Will the real [contestant’s name] please stand up?” is asked to figure out the imposter.
“99 Problems.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2015.
“Gangsta’s Paradise.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2015.
“Fight the Power.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2015.
“Fight the Power (Part 1 & 2).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2015