The original song has a lush veneer of Baroque harpsichord and piano meandering that dresses up frontman Ezra Koenig’s clever lyrics about Modest Mouse and his own insecurity. On the remix, each rapper uses that backdrop to put their own spin on the song, which has its own hip-hop backstory. The track features several callbacks – including Koenig’s first verse (“Back, back, way back I used to front”) – to rappers Souls of Mischief’s early Nineties cut “Step to My Girl.” Incidentally, that track never made it onto one of the hip-hop group’s records.
Brown opens his verse using the same “back, back, way back” nod and then admits he used to “front like I was Don Juan,” but he’s happy now that he’s settled down. He also expounds on Koenig’s and Souls of Mischief’s themes of possessiveness by saying, “If any fool try to come for what’s mine/ A pair of size nines where the sun don’t shine.” Heems pays tribute to his college girlfriend in his verse, including some explicit sexual memories, but he ends his turn with a sincere and sugary remembrance of the relationship. And Despot uses his spot mostly to threaten anyone who wants to hit on his girlfriend and to compliment the object of his jealousy.
Vampire Weekend originally released “Step” as the b-side of their “Diane Young” single. In March of last year, they released a lyric video for “Step,” which featured black-and-white shots of New York. “Diane Young” was the first single to come off Modern Vampires of the City, Rolling Stone’s Album of the Year for 2013.
Souls of Mischief rapper Tajai told the website HipHopDX last March that he’d never heard of Vampire Weekend when they approached him about paying homage to his track. He said that the band originally wanted to use the title “Step to My Girl,” just like the original, but he told them, “Nah, that’s wack.”
“They used a portion of my line and the cut for the concept . . . it’s cool, it’s homage,” he said. He also added, “It’s crazy that we were never able to put that song out, so it’s interesting that they’re gonna profit from it. But it’s good to inspire good music.”