Wednesday, May 21, 2008

There's Three of Them, But They're Not the Beatles

If you got all worked up when the Wu-Tang Clan announced they were sampling The Beatles on their latest album... If you're one of those guys who talks about how Paul's Boutique is, like, the most clever record ever because of all those crazy samples by artists like The Beatles... If you thought his mixing of Jay-Z acappellas and Beatles loops on The Grey Album was proof positive that then up-and-comer Danger Mouse was the next generation's Primo... Then you'll be needing this.

In fact, a rap group had acquired the rights to a Beatles song long before the Wu's mis-announcement. See, the Clan originally claimed that "the first single from [8 Diagrams] is the first legal sample of the Beatles ever used, appearing as the backing track to "The Heart Gently Weeps.'" on their myspace. But they later back-tracked to admitting they had George Harrison's son Dhani Harrison and John Frusciante of The Red Hot Chili Peppers replay some of the song's elements, because they couldn't clear the rights to the original. But years before all this, manager Charles Stettler went through some major negotiations to get the rights to The Beatles' "Baby, You're a Rich Man" from Michael Jackson (who owned the rights to their catalog at the time) for his superstar group, The Fat Boys.

Their version of The Beatles' "Baby, You're a Rich Man" (the b-side to 1967's "All You Need Is Love" on Capitol Records, pictured above) was featured on the soundtrack to their film, The Disorderlies in 1987. The soundtrack came out on Polydor Records, the major label that scooped them up from Sutra Records that same year. The Fat Boys also perform "Baby, You're a Rich Man" in a scene about midway through the film. And it was finally released as a 45bpm (even the 12" was 45, yes) single on Polydor in '88.

The song was produced by Paul Gurvitz (who also produced their cover of "Wipeout," which actually featured The Beach Boys), and was edited by Albert Cabrera of The Latin Rascalz. It opens with just a sytar and Buff Love beat-boxing, and then the beat kicks it into a full-fledged Beatles rap cover! The writing credits only name P. McCartney and J. Lennon, but somehow i doubt they had a hand in Kool Rock Ski or Prince Markie Dee's rhymes:

"Now rich livin' is def
So funky fresh
Ya have so much in life
And won't settle for less
You can live like a king
And pursue your career
To be a billion - or trillion -
or zillionaire
You can have what you want
Or what you desire
So much money
You could set it on fire!
If I was rich
I'd be a selfish star
Have champagne for breakfast
With caviar!
Girls at my feet
And gold on my neck
And when I get real bored
I'll write out checks!
A fourteen karat
Gold solid band
And a bag full of money
The rest by hand!
I'll cruise around the city
In my black Rolls Royce
And choose the finest lady
Of my choice!
I'll get real ill
But won't get greedy...
Donate half of it
To the needy!
But if I ain't set
And not legit
Get the girls off my feet
And take the gold off my neck!"

Interestingly, he's not credited on the label anywhere, but Dweezil Zappa played guitar on this song. There's an interview with him on, where he talks about it, "I think it was on a soundtrack, but I haven’t heard that since I played on it. I remember that was the shortest session I ever did. I went in, they played me the song. It was tuned down a half step and my guitar I tune to A4-40, and so it was like a really weird key for me to play in at that point. It was like B-flat I had to play in, because my guitar was not in tune with the track. And I remember just playing one thing, and once I got to a certain point on the neck, I got confused as to what key I was in because it wasn’t standard tuning. I started doing really weird stuff. And they kept it. That was it. Just one take of the solo. And they said. 'That was it! Great. No problem. Thanks very much.' OK."

The 12" includes three mixes: the "!2" Version," "Single Version," and the "Album Version." Except for the fact that the "Single Version" is heavily edited down to about half the length of the other two, the three mixes aren't all that different. The actual 7" (pictured above), by the way, only features the "Single Version" and has a unique b-side the 12" doesn't have: "Jellyroll" (a song that would later be featured on their album Coming Back Hard Again).

...And if after you get this record, it still hasn't been enough, then you'll just have to track down the square- and star-shaped vinyl singles of "The Beatles Rap" by The Quoreymen. That'll finish you off, for sure.

Finally, before I close this, a quick note to my regular readers: I'll be going away for the next couple of days to speak at The Connecticut Film Festival (which is also screening my first film, Lunch Break). So there won't be another update for a couple of days. But I hope I've left you with a good one. ;)


  1. Good luck at the film festival!  Love the blog, as always.

  2. damn, sorry i missed the news about the film festival! i used to live in danbury and only live an hour from there now. could have come up and made an ohword feature out of it!

    how did it go?

    - rafi

  3. Thanks, guys!
    The fest went well... I spoke on a panel, which turned out to be a lot of fun.  I want to do more now!  Ha ha
    It would've been fun to have Oh Word representing there... we could've hi-jacked the discussion to Fat Boys records.  ;)

  4. We absolutely love your blog. Thanks man. The Fat Boys.