Pete Rock & CL Smooth – The Basement (1992)
One thing you can say about Kanye West is that he pays credit where it is due — when it comes to other producers, at least. On “Famous,” he follows a path set by one of his biggest influences, Pete Rock, who sampled “Bam Bam” on “The Basement,” a deep cut from Rock’s classic 1992 album with CL Smooth, Mecca and the Soul Brother. (A track which also featured Rock’s Jamaican-born cousin, Heavy D, among other guests).
Kanye seems to pay homage to the legendary New York DJ, producer and rapper every few years, starting with a 2004 appearance on “Selfish” by Slum Village that saw him boast, “The way the beat rock, new version of Pete Rock.” Rock would later team up with Kanye directly when Yeezy tapped him to produce “The Joy,” a track from Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Fridays run in 2011, and later included on Watch The Throne.
In 1992, the same year he made a cameo on “The Basement,” Heavy D dropped the hard-hitting “Talk is Cheap,” with an intro quoting lyrics one might note are similar to “Bam Bam,” What the Heavster was actually referencing on the Skeff Anselm-produced Blue Funk track, though, was the original “Bam Bam,” sung by Toots and the Maytals in 1965, which Nancy referenced on her 1982 dancehall version. It is likely, though, that he was even more directly inspired by Pliers’ (more literal) cover version of “Bam Bam,” a major dancehall hit in the early ’90s that the Mandeville, Jamaica native surely would have been aware of. (Dancehall songs, like those in hip-hop, are rarely completely original, with artists and producers constantly adapting and modernizing classic lyrics and rhythms)
In fact, Heavy always made a point to acknowledge his yardie roots — as he did on “Talk is Cheap,” warning his competition that they could catch a “bam bam” if they ever tried to “dis di champion.” RIP HEAVY D.