100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #35 Eric B & Rakim – I Know You Got Soul

Released : 1987

In all of the history of sampling, no artist’s catalogue has been pillaged like James Brown’s. The Godfather of Soul has – unknowingly and frequently without his full share of royalties – provided fragments of killer joy on more records than his estate’s lawyers can keep tabs on, a legacy which began when the first wave of hip-hoppers decided to point their Akai’s and floppy discs at the material which constituted his 1960’s creative peak.

Lifting inspiration from Brown wholesale was an even bolder play, but for Queens duo Eric B & Rakim it was a genius move. Teenagers when they released the game-changing Paid In Full, Rakim’s lyrical dexterity and verbal gymnastics were a thrilling counterpoint to the accompanying razor sharp DJ cut-ups and proved that when done so brilliantly, the practice of using snippets of other tunes in your own was truly a way of elevating the source material.

I Know You Got Soul was it’s ace-in-the-hole, laid-back and skin tight, the pair toned down the street menace and headed for a club, the funky, insistent guitar loop and liquid rhymes heralding a less raw, more skilled approach to production as the movement began to evolve from MC battle tool into what would become a multi-billion dollar industry. Without even knowing, James Brown had lit the torch on America’s last great musical revolution.


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