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Up until 1999, Timbaland was making purely fresh beats, crisp and innovative in their own right compared to the compressor carnage being wrought in the pop market during that time. Even Tim admits it in “As usual, I had this one beat that I just couldn’t get a grip on.I’d been playing with a sample called “Khosara Khosara,” a beautiful Egyptian melody performed by a famous singer named Abdel Halim Hafez, who was like the Frank Sinatra of Arab music.
The decadence of this emperor, strangely enough, was neither vice nor vodka nor voluptuous women, but a crime of much higher stakes: uncredited sampling.
They sample a classic and they think they stumbled on it.
But it’s not enough to just flip an old sound and make it new.
Here’s a throwback for your listening pleasure, with text-based guest verses from the big man all of Tim’s honorifics, being a personal pick of President Obama’s is up there.
Whereas gulag cats like Vladimir Putin use mob slang to get their points across, Obama turned to hip-hop culture, biting Jay Z’s dance move by brushing the dirt off his shoulder on national TV.“When reporters asked his aides if Obama was specifically referencing our song,” Tim notes on page 161, “the campaign replied and said, ‘Well, he does have some Jay Z on his i Pod.’ Epic moment! Especially considering “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” was Tim’s sole contribution to Tim’s marching band period, corresponding to late 2002 and most of 2003, produced some real bops for the listening public.
But it was hard to wrangle.” (pg 126)The composer of “Khosara,” Baligh Hamdi, never got to hear his tune take over the airwaves anew decades after its composition.