Friday, September 07, 2012

If you like John Legend, thank the Staple Singers

Heard this classic soul gem on the oldies station by the incomparable soul/R&B family, The Staple Singers:

It ran around my brain all day, sounding so very familiar. Where, where, where had I heard that string arrangement before? Just before bed, it came to me: it was the sample John Legend used in his breakout hit collaboration with Kanye West, "Number One":

Hear it? I think it's sampled directly from the Staples. And in borrowing the loop, John Legend turned the sentiment of the original song on its heel -- what was initially a song about getting busy with the one you love is inverted to a desperate apology for cheating on the one you love. By doing this, it's almost as though he's questioning the authenticity of the sentiment of the original song, calling the notion of faithfulness into question in the most dulcet possible way. Which I guess shouldn't be so surprising. John Legend is an Ivy League grad, after all.

So remember, if you like John Legend, thank the Staple Singers.

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