Lyrical mastermind Drake has done wrong by the Pet Shop Boys on his latest album, For All the Dogs. What have they, what have they, what have they done to deserve this?
The iconic ‘80s pop group – who are still touring, BTW – tweeted their beef earlier this month, saying, “Surprising to hear @Drake singing the chorus of ‘West End Girls’ in the track ‘All The Parties’ on his new album. No credit given or permission requested.” Guest rapper Chief Keef is credited with his feature on the single, but when it comes to Drake using a part of their 1986 song “West End Girls,” no credit for ol’ PSB. (Fun fact: The song was released the same year Drake was born!)
The Pet Shop Boys are right about the snub. The part of the song in question is undeniably the chorus of West End Girls (have a listen to it 2:38 of this audio version of the song). And according to Copyright.gov, an interpolation (quoting a composition in a new recording) has somewhat laxer restrictions than a sample (which uses the original audio), but does require permission. Considering Drake credited seven other people as producers on the track, he sure should have credited PSB’s Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.
To be clear, no one here is questioning Drake’s musical wizardry; he just needs to make sure he shares some of the love (and credit) with those who inspire him along the way. (But in the meantime, at least he isn’t wrecking their whole seasons or anything.)
Besides, he should know better. On the sample “genealogy” website Whosampled.com, Drake is listed as having used 459 samples – including a correctly-spotted PSB shout-out – during a career that has put him on top of the Billboard 200 album chart 13 times since 2009. Here are some of the (many) examples of Drake’s sampling expertise:
Tuscan Leather (2013)
The song strongly samples “I Have Nothing,” performed by the legendary Whitney Houston (and written by David Foster and Linda Thompson-Jenner). Its distorted Whitney sample is chopped up, sped up, and reversed in various ways throughout the track.
How Bout Now (2014)
This track samples “My Heart Belongs to U” by Jodeci, the popular ‘90s R&B group. (Drake must be a big fan, because his track “Jodeci (Freestyle)” samples the quartet’s “4U.”) “How Bout Now” begins with a voicemail left by Drake’s ex-girlfriend, Kandice Henry. He did not get her permission, getting him into some hot water for privacy violations.
This hit incorporates a heavy sample of Mariah Carey’s 1991 hit Emotions. The GOAT-level diva even tweeted a shout-out to Drake after the song’s release—a line of fire emojis.
Nice For What (2018)
Here’s where the “genealogy” comes in: This one samples “Ex-Factor” By Lauryn Hill, which sampled “Can It All Be So Simple” by Wu-Tang Clan, which sampled Gladys Knight and the Pips’ cover of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” (by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, and Marvin Hamlisch). This string adds up to 16 songwriting credits on the track.