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Song Stories

“U Can't Touch This”

MC Hammer | 1990

Aided by the video featuring MC Hammer's slinky dance moves and parachute pants, this self-aggrandizing hip-hop song had fans everywhere declaring, "Stop — Hammer time!" Yet, other well-known rappers criticized Hammer for poor rapping. And Rick James hated the song, which sampled his funk classic "Super Freak." "Hell, no, I wasn't impressed with that s--t," he said. James said he would have refused Hammer had he personally requested to use the song — even though it earned James huge royalties and his only Grammy. "After that, I told my people that I didn't want any more rappers using my stuff."

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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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