Saturday, February 8, 2020

"It's Tricky" by Run-D.M.C.

Song#:  3037
Date:  02/28/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  57
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  Making history and setting records was the order of the day for rap legends Run-D.M.C. Their album Raising Hell would be an influential classic and multi-platinum seller. Three singles had already been released from the LP by this point, but they were not done. The trio pushed out this fourth single and although it wouldn't do as well as their previous three, it did fine getting to #21 at R&B and nearly making the top half of the Pop chart. At the time, the single wasn't a major seller, however, that changed in the digital age. It became highly popular in the trio's catalog and over time sold enough that it was certified as a double-platinum seller in May of 2019.

ReduxReview:  Here is another winner from the rap trio. It's just as fun and catchy as the previous singles from the album, so I'm a bit surprised it didn't do better on the charts. Mainstream music folks were still trying to figure out rap and if it was a valid new genre or a passing fad, so the "already heard that" factor may have been at play here with some listeners and at radio. Or maybe the attention had swung the Beastie Boys way for the time being and radio wasn't ready for multiple rap songs in their playlists. Whatever the case, in the end it didn't really matter because the album became a huge success and this song would be a rap staple for years to come.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Back in the day, the rules and laws regarding sampling were still getting figured out so not every artist whose work was used got recognized or compensated. That would certainly change over the years and for the most part any issues regarding sampling or use of material in early rap or even pop/R&B songs were put to rest. However, sometimes a golden oldie will get dusted off and become fodder for a lawsuit. "It's Tricky" ended up being one of those songs. In it, Run-D.M.C. ended up using a sample of the guitar lick from The Knack's 1979 #1 hit "My Sharona." The small bit helps push the beat and is mixed in well with the track. While it may not be recognizable to some, most anyone familiar with "My Sharona" could easily recognize the sample. Somehow, for twenty years, the song's writers, Knack members Doug Fieger and Berton Averre, were never aware of the sample and apparently no one associated with them knew either. It seems strange that they didn't know. Fans of the band must have known and would have alerted the band or it would have been discussed online. Yet Fieger and Averre were oblivious to it. That is until 2006 when it finally came to their attention. They not only sued Run-D.M.C., but also any sales/distribution outlet that sold copies of the song. It seems the suit was settled out of court three years later, so Fieger and Averre received some kind of compensation and credit. However, this song also utilizes a portion of another hit. The cheer-leading section from the 1982 Toni Basil #1 "Mickey" is copped and revamped for the chorus of this track. It is the same cadence and rhyme scheme from "Mickey," but with different words. Since it is more of a spoken-word/chant item than an actual sample or melody, laws may be different for this. But it seems that "Mickey" songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn haven't had an issue with it as they have never sued for credit (at least not yet).

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