So: Justin Timberlake has 1o more songs, a “20/20 Experience, Pt. 2,” ready for fall release. On a web forum, Questlove of the Roots made the announcement today in response to criticism that’s come up about Timberlake’s “faux soul.” Indeed, this whole marketing scheme of Timberlake’s for “The 20/20 Experience” is a mixed cultural reference. He either sees himself as a Rat Packer– Dean Martin?– singing 70s soul with a 16 piece band. Or, I don’t know what. Because no soul singer, not even Marvin Gaye, or Jackie Wilson, performed like this. Maybe Nat King Cole, who was dead before the 70s soul revival.
The hit single from “20/20″ is “Suit and Tie.” It’s largely sampled and reworked from a 70s track by a group called Sly, Slick and Wicked. The record was called “Sho Nuff.” Here’s a weird story. There were two Sly, Slick and Wicked groups. One was from Los Angeles, the other from Cleveland. The LA group was first. The Cleveland group came after them, and had the hits like “Sho Nuff.” The Cleveland group actually sued the LA group over the name and lost. Still, they have to be paid for the “Sho Nuff” sample, which now called an “interpolation”– haha–Timberlake and co. just rewrote the song. Nevertheless, good job.
This whole excavation and archeology project of ripping off obscure songs started more than 25 years ago. At first it was called sampling. Now, as the songs have become whole “tributes” to a sound, it’s “interpolation.” Alicia Keys has been in the forefront of this, which always surprised me since she was capable of writing new songs. This past year Bruno Mars made a whole “tribute” to Sting and the Police from his “Locked Out of Heaven.” Some people may actually call these things “rip off.” Even John Legend did it, renaming the 60s hit “Spooky” by Dennis Yost and the Classics IV as his “Save Time.”
“The 20/20 Experience” is clearly a tribute to Philly Soul, Gamble and Huff. And it has tons more “interpolations” and samples than just “Suit and Tie.” We can only guess how many more will be lodged in Part Deux.