Song Stories


Kris Kross | 1992

With gangsta rap dominating the hip-hop charts, some found two kids urging listeners to "shake their rump" while wearing their pants backward innocently refreshing. The song was written by Jermaine Dupri, a 19-year-old who discovered the duo at an Atlanta mall. Featuring catch phrases like "wiggity wiggity wiggity wack," the song shot ahead of singles by Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and Garth Brooks, making stars of the 12- and 13-year-old rappers. "It just came to us so quick," said the younger one, Chris Smith, also known as Daddy Mack.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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