The Woman Who Put the Soul in "Sanctified"
May 27, 2014 5:56 AM   Subscribe

When you first hear the opening seconds of the song “Sanctified,” by Rick Ross, your instinct might be to give credit to Kanye West, who co-produced it, for finding one of the most breathtaking vocal samples in hip-hop history. Even if you’ve never really listened to old gospel music, the melody seems like a recovered treasure, recorded by a woman with a voice weathered by air that no longer circulates on this earth. None of that is true, though: “Sanctified,” the best track on Ross’s new album, “Mastermind,” and probably the best rap song of the year so far, is not built around a rediscovered sample. Instead, the song owes its existence to a last-minute favor called in to the soul singer Betty Wright, late one night in February, just as Wright was drifting off to sleep in her chair after a long day of vocal coaching. - This piece takes a look at Betty Wright, legendary singer, and coach/mentor to many of today's rappers

"Sanctified" is also mentioned here
posted by beisny (32 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

Is the hook pulled from an old gospel song, or was it written especially for this one?
posted by Think_Long at 6:10 AM on May 27

Never in the history of mefi has prose ever been so purple.

posted by clvrmnky at 6:16 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]

and probably the best rap song of the year so far......

Ahhhh, lyrics:

Let's look at the intros:

[Betty wright]
There's a field with angels movin' around me
I just worship thee, for all he's done for me
It's a new day, I have been born again
I've been born again, I've been born again
In His spirit, and His name, I'm sanctified!
Lord I testify, he's right by my side
I believe it be, His word is so clear to me
Yeah, yeah


[Hook: Big Sean]
All I want's 100 million dollars and a bad bitch
Plus that paper chasin', it done turn me to a savage
Groupies in the lobby, they just tryna get established
God, I've been guilty, fornicatin' from my status….

[Verse 2: Rick Ross]
Keys to my success, I get new keys and new address
Bitches that I date don't get degrees but they can dress
Fellatio's amazin', make grilled cheese for you, the best
Major cult figure, I'm the fresh David Koresh
Soldiers all in gators, new Mercedes for cadets
Balmain uniform, you know Donda designed the vest
Double M, that be the Army, better yet, the Navy
Baby seen me in that Wraith, wanna have my baby
All I wanted was a hundred million dollars and a bad bitch
Now I want two hundred and ménage in my palace
Walkin' out the jeweler with no mothafuckin' balance
Somewhere in Jamaica I'm still holdin' on my chalice
Rims on my Ferrari, my bitch said that I was childish
'Til I fuck a girl, that girl tweeted that I was stylish
When we fucked again, she told me "That was just some foul shit"
I walk into the room, you can even hear all the silence

I leave this for your consideration that this is the "best" rap "song" of the year thus far.
posted by lalochezia at 6:23 AM on May 27 [12 favorites]

Kinda fucked up it's credited to "Rick Ross - Sanctified ft. Kanye West & Big Sean", completely leaving Ms. Wright off, but that's modern hip hop for you.
posted by item at 7:14 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]

Fellatio's amazin', make grilled cheese for you

posted by thelonius at 7:16 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]

Rick Ross rhymes 'foul shit' with 'silence'.
posted by item at 7:18 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]

Wow, I had no idea she'd carved out a 2nd career as vocal coach to Today's Rap Stars. I love this quote:

"I ain’t trying to be in their sandbox—I built the sandbox, but I watch ’em play in it."

The part about her dis verse aimed at Color Me Badd after they sampled her without permission is great, too:

I was singin and rappin
when the doctor was slappin
your butt tryin to wake you up
and guess what
I'm probably old enough to be your mama
And another thing
I'm proud to be a member of the Not-the-Sugar-Hill
But the Over-the-Hill gang
But you can't join baby
you know why?
Cause you...can't...sing

As a side note, The Best of Betty Wright is a fantastic collection of 70s vocal soul. If all you know's the amazing bassline, awesome horns, funky guitar, sharp lyrics and Wright's incredibly strong vocals on Clean-Up Woman ("I found out/That all I had done/Was made it easy/For the clean-up woman"), you've been missing out, so here are a few direct links the New Yorker folks should've included:

Slip & Do It - "I don't want his money/What I want is his honey/Cuz it feels so good/When you slip and do it"
The Babysitter - "I should have been aware of the babysitter"
Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do - "So take this advice I give you//Just like a mother/You try to match/Your man's do for do/End up in the gutter"
It's Hard To Stop
And Pure Love, a pretty much perfect little soul love song:

Oh, it's so hard
So very hard to find the real thing today
It's even harder to keep, they say
And it's so hard to keep a new love from growin' old
And everything that glistens
It sure don't have to be gold

But I've got
Pure love

And lalochezia, she addresses your concerns, sort of, in the 2nd-to-last paragraph. And without getting into the merits of the Leon Neyfakh's almost certainly overblown endorsement of the song as the best of the year so far, getting his excitement over Betty Wright into the New Yorker is a worthwhile contribution to humanity.

Perhaps the best this year so far!
posted by mediareport at 7:22 AM on May 27 [9 favorites]

Two things.

1. Rick Ross recently got a face tat buried beneath his facial hair!
1a. My best friend was craving Wingstop after listening to "Mastermind" for the first time.

2a. Would be spectacular at Coachella.

(mind blown hand motion)

This isn't the best rap song of the year and Big Sean should still be ashamed to say he's from Detroit, but DAMN this whole story is gold!
posted by raihan_ at 7:24 AM on May 27

Sweet Jesus, that's awful. Except the Betty Wright part, that's nice.
posted by borges at 8:01 AM on May 27

I leave this for your consideration that this is the "best" rap "song" of the year thus far.

Are you suggesting this isn't a song?
posted by MetalFingerz at 8:58 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]

"that's modern hip hop for you"

Are you suggesting that in any other genre of music the singer featured in a sample would be given top billing?

lol at Metafilter being a 50's Republican about Rap music.
posted by R.F.Simpson at 9:17 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]

Ahhhh, lyrics:

yeah, it sure looks like Rick Ross sorta missed the boat on the theme of this one. Which is pretty bad when it's your own song.
posted by Hoopo at 9:20 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]

R.F. I'm not sure it's a sample. i think she actually sang and recorded new vocals on this one.
posted by Hoopo at 9:21 AM on May 27

lol at the 'sample' being produced specifically for that song. She certainly had way more artistic input in that track than Big Sean did. Yes, I think her name deserves to be on the marquee as a featured artist, not top billing.
posted by item at 9:23 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]

What lovely soul! Then some annoying guy goes on in a reedy chant about money, groupies, then forces a rhyme from "bitch" to "sav-itch" and I'm out. And hey, sometimes I like rap. But not this. I so admire her new career though, and I love that she's known Lil Wayne since he was 15 and "trained him in the art of breathing, phrasing, and pitch". The guy has an amazing voice.

Here's Amazon's offerings for Betty Wright, sadly the MP3 pickings are pretty thin. I think Betty Wright: the Movie, the album done with the Roots, is the most likely candidate for something interesting if you want a hip hop vibe.
posted by Nelson at 9:35 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]

Here's Amazon's offerings for Betty Wright, sadly the MP3 pickings are pretty thin

The stuff of hers I have is ripped from vinyl -- you can actually find tons of old soul stuff ripped from vinyl on certain music blogs. It's probably less than optimal sound quality after being converted to mp3, but it's still good enough for me. But I would only recommend this route if there's no other way (prime example of people I'd rather got the money or recognition from sales if possible). Sounds like Betty Wright may get a bit of a revival because of this, so maybe more will be made available soon.
posted by Hoopo at 9:46 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]

This song isn't even close to being the best of anything, but I'm happy for Betty.
posted by cashman at 9:49 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]

Best rap song of the year? Really? The flow is not cold, the lyrical content is unremarkable to put it mildly, and the beat isn't even that hot. The sample is cool, thank you for the post it's fascinating, but these critics are out of their minds. Runt the Jewels II will be out in a couple of months and this song will fade into oblivion.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 10:10 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]

It is not a sample. Jesus Christ. She got out of bed and went down to the studio to record it for this song.
posted by thelonius at 10:19 AM on May 27

lol at Metafilter being a 50's Republican about Rap music.

If only Ross had written a song about taters, instead of grilled cheese sammies and plo chops...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:37 AM on May 27

Yeah, she added as much or more to this song as Justin Vernon did to Kanye's "Monster" and he got as much billing as Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj there. She should, too.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:05 AM on May 27

So, if this isn't the best rap song of the year so far, what is?

Links greatly appreciated.
posted by box at 11:22 AM on May 27

"So, if this isn't the best rap song of the year so far, what is? "

Practically anything else?
posted by markkraft at 12:11 PM on May 27

Well, that seems a little hyperbolic. I don't like Rozay much, but I can comfortably say that 'Sanctified' is better than 'Brick in Yo Face.'
posted by box at 12:25 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]

So, if this isn't the best rap song of the year so far, what is?

This will come down to tastes, but my vote is for Madlib & Freddie Gibbs. Not sure which song. Maybe "High" or "Lakers" but with a lot of Madlib stuff it's more of an "album album" than a "singles album". Then there's also Alchemist and Evidence's "Step Masters". My tastes skew sloppier stuff I guess.

'Brick in Yo Face.'

Hahaha that video was excellent, thank you
posted by Hoopo at 12:50 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

I'm more of an album cat, but I'd also toss 'And Then You Shoot Your Cousin' and 'PTSD' on that pile. Maybe 'The Good Book' and 'Silk Pyramids' and 'Barrel Brothers,' too. And Nas and Mobb Deep reissues, if you're into that. Yeah, I'm old.

This is an old debate, but does the 'best rap song of the year' metric include popularity? Because if it does, you might put 'Oxymoron' and 'GIRL' in there as well.
posted by box at 2:40 PM on May 27

Best song of the year is tough, but some stuff I prefer to this that's come out this year:

"Open Letter" is a pretty strong argument for flow of the year.

Someone already mentioned Pinata, which is a solid album.

Three or four songs off the Rat King album really struck me. "So It Goes" is pretty great. (I particularly love this live version). And this is worthwhile as well.

Lakutis's album is quality white-boy hip-hop. "Jesus Piece" and "Too Ill for the Law" are both great.

I'm in love with Harry Fraud's production right now. This song he did with Adrian Lau has a real Boards of Canada feel, while this NORE song is just nasty.

As for the best hip-hop song released today, I'd give that to Ghostface and Danny Brown.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:58 PM on May 27 [6 favorites]

box: "I can comfortably say that 'Sanctified' is better than 'Brick in Yo Face.'"

Wow. That's really...that.
posted by Bugbread at 9:12 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

Oh, man, I've fallen down the Stitches hole now. First song: shouting "I LOVE SELLING BLOW!". Second song: Autotuned chorus is "This is drug dealing music!" Third song: "I tried to stop selling drugs, but what am I gonna do, it's all I know."

What happened to "I LOVE SELLING BLOW"?
posted by Bugbread at 11:28 PM on May 28

Let's make a Stitches FPP! Complex, Dan Le Batard, Daily Dot, Noisey...
posted by box at 3:36 PM on May 29

box: "Let's make a Stitches FPP! Complex, Dan Le Batard, Daily Dot, Noisey..."

Go for it!
posted by Bugbread at 5:23 PM on May 29

Hilarious. Here's Common's entry for best song of the year so far. I'm biased though because I am a Vince Staples fan.
posted by cashman at 2:01 PM on May 30

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