Jay-Z made the same type of headlines with his visit to Jamaica this month as President Barack Obama did on his trip to the island in 2015. Over several days on the Rock, photos emerged of “President Carter” (as the rapper born Shawn Carter is known to many fans) mingling with some of the island’s biggest acts and figures, including one with Jr. Gong, Damian Marley, and Sister Nancy. The reason behind the meeting is now clear in the form of “BAM,” one of the standout tracks on Jay-Z’s 13th studio album 4:44, which debuted last night at midnight through streaming service, Tidal. The seventh track on the LP features vocals from Marley, referencing Jacob Miller and Inner Circle’s raggamuffin classic “Tenement Yard,” along with the familiar sounds of Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam.”
This is the first time Jay-Z and Damian, now business partners as co-owners of Tidal, have recorded together, officially. Jr. Gong’s latest video, “R.O.A.R.,” recently debuted on the artist-owned music platform. Before “BAM,” Jay recorded a remix of Mavado’s “On The Rock” in 2008. At that same time, Damian and Stephen Marley released “The Mission” on the same riddim produced by Trevor “Baby G” James. Jay’s “On The Rock” remix appeared on numerous white label vinyl releases, though it never saw anything like the visibility of “BAM,” which has been one of the most talked about tracks from the new release.
No I.D., 4:44’s executive producer, created the beat for “BAM,” sampling Original Mumma Sister Nancy’s voice from her iconic single “Bam Bam.” Nancy spoke about the everlasting influence of “Bam Bam,” which last year was sampled by Kanye West and covered nightly on tour by Beyonce, in hip-hop and pop culture recently in an interview on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning. It turns out one of the people listening that day was Jay-Z, who arranged for Nancy to fly down to Jamaica despite the fact that “BAM” features a sample of Nancy’s voice, not new vocals. As LargeUp’s DJ Gravy, who was present in Kingston for this meeting of the minds, puts it: “I’ve envisioned Jay and Damian being on a record together, and I’m really excited about the collaboration—three entities that are so iconic together on the same track.”