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Song Stories

“Raw”

Big Daddy Kane | 1987

In 1987, Big Daddy Kane — who'd just signed with Marley Marl's Cold Chillin' Records — compared himself to a rap "terrorist" on "Raw," a promo single released to introduce the emcee to the world. The underground hit, featuring a sample of the James Brown classic "Hot Pants," was remixed for his debut Long Live the Kane, but real hip-hop heads (and hardcore fans of the rapper) will always remember the braggadocious original, where Kane spits, "So full of action/My name should be a verb." "I couldn't really see it going too far," he recalled. "I thought we'd have a neighborhood song out, a Brooklyn hit, and that's it."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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