It's a song that's been sampled dozens of times by everyone from Too Short and Major Lazer to Kanye West and Jay Z, but Sister Nancy's legendary 1982 track "Bam Bam" only started to earn her royalties in 2016.
In a recent interview with NME, Jamaican-born artist Sister Nancy talked more about her decades-long career and the song that has been crossing genres in sample form for over 30 years. "When I heard [Kanye] do it I just thought, well, that’s good for me," she said of West's use of the track for his Life of Pablo single "Famous" in 2016. "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."
Jay Z and producer No I.D. also recently used the song as the base for his 4:44 track "Bam", which also features Damian Marley. The pair shot a video in Jamaica, which also included them in the studio with Nancy herself. She called the whole experience a blessing. "I spent three days down there with him," she said. "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 was one of the first female DJs in Jamaican dancehall's early days, but a bad contract saw her left out of the royalties for her own music. The song has turned up everywhere from current dancehall to hip-hop and R&B, house, EDM, and even movies like Hype William's 1998 flick Belly.
After the song's most recent sample resurgence, she was finally able to receive backdated royalties and get back to performing. "Yes, I’m getting the royalties now. I wasn’t getting anything for 34 years, but in 2014 after they used it in a Reebok commercial I decided to sue them," she explained. "Now I own 50 percent of the One, Two album. At least I’m getting something now, I never used to get anything."
It's most likely not the last time we'll hear the iconic song sampled by producers and artists ready to add their own takes on the classic, but at least now things are fair.