Tag Archives: Puff Daddy

Throwback Thursday – 1997

Randy Badazz Alpert received many requests to license “Rise,” a song he co-wrote that became a #1 hit for his uncle Herb in 1979, as a sample in hip hop tracks. He said no to Ice Cube, Vanilla Ice, Eazy-E, and the others who requested permission. However, when he received a cassette from the producer then known as Puff Daddy of a new song utilizing the sample, he consented. He loved the new tune and felt it could make his song go to #1 again.

He was right. The new recording was “Hypnotize” and it was performed by the Notorious B.I.G. “Hypnotize” topped the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1997, less than two months after the rapper was killed in Los Angeles.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the best of 1997, kicking off with The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” which uses a sample from a songwriter whose middle name really is Badazz.


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Garfunkel, lang, Frey And Diddy

One day in the late 1990s, while in my office at Sony Music, I received a call from the security desk in the lobby. “Art Garfunkel is here to see you.”

I wasn’t expecting Art Garfunkel. I’d never met Art Garfunkel, though we spoke on the phone a few times. I worked in the International Licensing department and received a fair number of requests to have Simon & Garfunkel and Art Garfunkel solo tracks included on compilations. “Send him up, please.”

A few minutes later, Art Garfunkel walked into my office. We shook hands and then both sat down and chatted. I don’t recall our entire conversation, though I do remember him telling me that he is particular about the artists with whom he is to be coupled on compilations, saying he wouldn’t want a track of his to be next to one performed by Iggy Pop. It wasn’t meant as a slight to Iggy; he meant the transition from one of his ballads to a heavy rocker would be jarring to the listener. He said he and Paul Simon used to argue about the running order of the tracks on their albums.

He hung out in my office for around fifteen minutes, during which time I got him to laugh more than once (about what I have no recollection). When he got up to leave he shook my hand again and told me “You are my favorite person at Sony Music.”

A decade later I met k.d. lang at a small party meant to celebrate her latest release. I’ve seen many concerts over the years; only twice has a singer so thrilled me that the hair on my arms stood up. The first time was when I attended the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls and Jennifer Holliday sang “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” The other time was when I saw k.d. lang at Radio City Music Hall and she covered Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” Spectacular!

My interaction with k.d. at this party was very brief. A hello and a handshake. My only memory of this encounter is that she had the firmest handshake of anybody with whom I’ve ever shaken hands, including my step-uncle Steve. Damn, girl!

In 2012 I attended Warner Music Group’s pre-Grammy bash. Sean Combs a/k/a Puff Daddy a/k/a Puffy a/k/a P. Diddy a/k/a Diddy…now I forgot what I was going to write. Oh, yeah – he was at that party. I didn’t chat with him or shake his hand.

I’ve never chatted with Glenn Frey of Eagles nor have we both attended the same party, though I occasionally licensed his music while working at Warner.

k.d. lang’s birthday was this past Sunday, Diddy/Puffy/whatever’s birthday is today, Art Garfunkel’s is tomorrow and Glenn Frey’s is Thursday. Unlike Garfunkel I like compilations with jarring transitions. As such Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthdays of these four folks in today’s playlist.

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Keeping The Music Of Curtis Mayfield Alive

Ringo + Curtis 004
In my role as the Vice President of Licensing at Warner Music Group I oversaw the licensing of “samples.” A sample is when a newer song uses a portion of an existing recording. A prominent example is Puff Daddy’s sample of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” in his “I’ll Be Missing You.”

One of the most popular catalogues for sample licensing is that of Curtis Mayfield. Elements of his records have been used by many well-known and respected rap acts, including Kanye West and Beastie Boys. I’d run the requests by Curtis’ son Kirk, who was always a pleasure to work with.

Many complain of hip hop’s dependence on samples, and while often times samples are used in a lazy and uninspired way, there are many examples where the samples complement the new song perfectly. It can also be argued that samples keep the music of great acts of the past alive and introduce this music to younger generations. Where else might a teenager hear Curtis Mayfield or James Brown other than via a new Kanye jam?

Today, the third day of Black Music Month, we celebrate the birthday of the late, great Curtis Mayfield with some of the classics he had a hand in – as a solo artist, as a member of The Impressions, as a writer/producer, or via a sample. Click here for the playlist.

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