Listen closely to the start of the 2015 hit "Hey Mama" by David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Afrojack, and Bebe Rexha and you'll hear voices intoning a chant: "Be my woman, girl, I'll be your man." It's sample from a 1948 recording called "Rosie," and it's the propulsive hook of "Hey Mama," driving the song to over a billion views on YouTube. The voices in the sample belong to CB Cook and ten other unidentified prisoners at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, aka Parchman Farm. These men never got credit for their work, even though it's been reused by everyone from Guetta to the Animals to Nina Simone. We investigate the story of "Rosie" to understand an inequity that lies at the heart of the music business and our national consciousness.
David Guetta ft Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha, and Afrojack - Hey Mama
CB Cook and Axe Gang - Rosie
The Animals - Inside Looking Out
Grand Funk Railroad - Inside Looking OUt
KRS-One - Sound of Da Police
Jay Z - Takeover
Nina Simone - Be My Husband
Check out Kembrew McLeod's and Peter DiCola's book Creative License to learn more about the law and culture of digital sampling.
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