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Song Stories

“Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”

Jay-Z | 2001

Back in the early Nineties, Jay-Z’s extraordinary wordplay earned him the divinely inspired nickname Jay-Hova, a play on “Jehovah.” The Brooklyn native eventually toned it down to Hova and then Hov before the 2001 release of his Grammy-nominated sixth album, The Blueprint. The album “was like going back to my roots, to how I grew up,” Hova told Rolling Stone. True to his words, "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," traces Jay-Z’s drug-dealing days and his emergence in the rap scene, with a chorus that uses izzle-lingo to spell out his adopted moniker. The chart-topping single, which samples the Jackson 5’s "I Want You Back," was also the first major hit that Jay-Z had with a then-unknown budding producer from Chicago named Kanye West.

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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