Probably the best thing Puffy ever did was sample this song. I mean, his production work on Mary J. Blige’s first record What’s the 411? is damn good, too – but in terms of just sampling one song and hitting it pitch perfect, who could have imagined that Herb Alpert would have been the joint? (Though I remember when the original record was mad popular back in ’79).
It is easy to hear how the bassline is basically lifted straight from the original track, esp. at the beginning—that “doomp doomp doomp.” It is so perfect, so elegant in its simplicity there is no real need to change it, but it is the sampling/re-contextualizing of the little echoed guitar flare (heard about 3:10 on the video above (or click here to jump right to it) that makes the Biggie version work. Opening the song with it was a real stroke of genius, because it is so immediately recognizable and arresting that it can segue from any song. It is just one of those tracks that hip-hop DJs love to play.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the refrain is an interpolation of a section of Slick Rick’s all-time classic “La Di Da Di” (a song so classic that all a DJ needs to do is sneak in a quick scratch of Ricky singing the title to get a crowd pumped). You can click here to here the interpolated part around the four minute mark.
None of this is news to hardcore hip-hop fans, but consider this a lesson for the kids or for those who fail to realize that hip-hop does not eschew history, it honors it, it has a historical pluralism encoded and embedded in its foundational tracks.
It can’t stop. It won’t stop.