Sister Nancy and her classic “Bam Bam” track has been sampled dozens of times in Hip-Hop music and beyond. In a recent interview, the Dancehall Reggae legend spoke about Jay-Z and Kanye West using the record for their respective songs while also capturing what she’s done over the course of her career.
In a delightful chat with NME, Dancehall’s first female deejay (aka rapper using the genre’s terms) revealed that “Bam Bam” was the final song recorded for her One, Two album and was all a freestyle. Fans of Dancehall probably could tell this as a result of the “toasting” style of talking rhythmically over the track which was the flavor of early Dancehall records in the early 80’s as popularized by the likes of King Yellowman, Eek-A-Mouse, and others.
What was shocking to learn is that Sister Nancy, born Ophlin Russell, was cut out from getting paid for folks sampling the track but that changed in 2014 after well over three decades.
So when Kanye sampled ‘Bam Bam’ for ‘Famous’ in 2016 did he have to ask your permission?
“No, he didn’t have to ask me because I don’t own the song. The song is owned by Westbury Music, who are based in England. Kanye would have had to go through them, and then they gave him authorisation to use it. Then they make sure I get my royalties from the sample too.”
That’s good. What did you make of ‘Famous’?
“It’s not the first time I’ve heard someone sample ‘Bam Bam’. When I heard him do it I just thought: ‘Well, that’s good for me.’ Whatever way he takes it, it’s very good for me because it keeps me moving. Do you know what I’m saying? It keeps me working. Then Jay-Z did the same thing. It’s a blessing.”
You went back to Jamaica with Jay-Z, didn’t you?
“Yeah that’s right. He wanted me to appear in the video for ‘Bam’ that he was making with [Damian] Marley. I spent three days down there with him. It was nice, but a man is just a man. Jay-Z is just a man, same as you. He’s no different.”
Sister Nancy, who left Jamaica and music behind, is now back on the road and is embarking on a European tour. Follow what Muma Nancy is doing via her Facebook page.