Each week in Sample Wars, we’ll pit two songs which sample the same source material head-to-head against each other, to determine which one rocked the sample better.
I was hoping to look at “Numbers on the Boards” this week, but couldn’t find any track that shares its absolutely bonkers sample of an early electronic music curiosity. Instead, here’s Pusha T and Kendrick Lamar’s “Nosetalgia,” which shares musical DNA with French Montana’s “Wasted,” by way of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want to Be Right).”
“If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want to Be Right),” Bobby “Blue” Bland, 1973: Classic blues-tinged soul from the man who brought you “Ain’t No Love (In the Heart of the City).” This one’s a slow burn, with smoky organ, a searing guitar intro, and a verse turnaround that feels straight out of “Strawberry Letter 23.”
“Nosetalgia,” Pusha T feat. Kendrick Lamar, produced by Kanye West and Nottz, 2013: The “Nosetalgia” beat is an exercise in restraint. Rather than reaching for the vocals of “If Loving You Is Wrong,” or even that signature turnaround, producers Kanye West and Nottz stick to the searing intro guitar riff, layering it with super-minimal percussion and the disembodied voice of KRS-One.
“Wasted,” French Montana feat. Chinx Drugs, producer unknown, 2011: These producers go the opposite route, practically sampling the entire track after pitching it up just a bit while French does his mumble-rap-sing thing all over it. It feels charmingly thrown-together, and the use of Bobby Bland’s vocals give the track a warmth that’s totally absent in the Pusha T track.
The Verdict: “Nosetalgia,” no contest. As on the rest of My Name Is My Name, Pusha T sounds hungrier here than he has since Hell Hath No Fury, and the production has laid-back menace to match. Add a dextrous assist from Kendrick Lamar and its a standout track on what’s easily one of the year’s best rap albums.