August 7th, 2012
10:28 AM ET
Lupe Fiasco doesn’t shy away from the contentious on the first track off his new album.
The lyrics to “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)” run the gamut from Native American poverty to Catholic Church child abuse to the causes of the Iraq War, but one of the track’s biggest controversies came not from the words but the beat.
As hip-hop heads are well aware, Lupe co-opted one of the most iconic hip-hop melodies of all time for the track: the beat from Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You."
My God, it’s been some dust up, too. And now Lupe tells CNN that time is probably the only thing that will mend the relationship between him and Soul Brother No. 1.
Here's the Cliff's Notes to rehash what’s been reported: Lupe’s people reached out to Pete about using the track. There was a misunderstanding. Pete heard the track and was ticked. He tweeted something ugly. Lupe got ticked. The two talked and supposedly settled the beef. Then Pete sent out another tweet suggesting the two would collaborate on the song, which was already finished. Lupe went on a radio show and cried “foul,” literally.
Pete’s original composition sampled a four-second sax riff off Tom Scott’s cover of the Jefferson Airplane song “Today” (which you can hear here if you fast forward to 1:38). He laid the loop over a drum sample from James Brown’s “Say It Loud.”
The song was written in honor of Troy “Trouble T. Roy” Dixon of Heavy D & the Boyz, a close friend of Pete and CL Smooth’s who died after an accidental fall in 1990.
Producers Simonsayz and B-Side, who flipped the track for Lupe, re-created the beat with actual musicians instead of samples, Lupe said.
“It definitely wasn’t like, ‘Hey, I’m going to steal that, and nobody’s going to know.’ The original ‘T.R.O.Y.’ came out in 1992, and it was like a 20th anniversary kind of thing,” he told CNN. “All of those intentions were there for it to be resurrecting a classic for a new generation.
“I tried to honor it. Of course, there was homage being paid, but certain logistics of the record didn’t go through as (Pete) wanted, and then his backlash, and then my explanation, and then there was supposed to be a public kind of mending of the situation on his behalf, which didn’t occur.”
He still has mad respect for the “Soul Survivor” producer, but he says that after all the back and forth, the two need time and space.
“I’ll just wait this one out, see what happens,” Lupe said. “Let time reconcile this, time and distance. I still big him up. Shout to Pete Rock, shout to CL Smooth in everything I do because at the end of the day, it is his record.
In other news, Lupe also spoke about the future of some of his other projects.
All City-Chess Club, a superband made up of Lupe and seven other rappers, will be a mixtape-only outfit, he said, and he’s unsure what the future will hold for Child Rebel Soldiers, his venture with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.
To quote Lupe on CRS, “Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
As for the rumored studio collaboration between him and Skateboard P, he says it’s a coin toss.
“That’s in the incubator because we definitely talk about it. It definitely came up, but it’s kind of like 50-50, but definitely a good strong 50 on the yes side - weak 50 no, a strong 50 yes,” he said.
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