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How Kate Bush devised Big Boi’s favourite verse

@TomTaylorFO

Big Boi’s love for Kate Bush knows no bounds. The Outkast star simply adores her work, ranking the ‘Running Up That Hill’ singer as his favourite artist alongside the legendary Bob Marley. As he once opined, “Music is supposed to evoke emotion and make people feel a certain way whether it’s happy or sad or make you think. So, I love Kate Bush.”

However, beyond that generalised love, she also crafted a single verse that the hip hop star cherishes more than any other and it comes from her resurgent masterpiece, ‘Running Up That Hill’. As Big Boi told Pitchfork back in 2018: “I loved the production first and foremost because it set a tone, and then the way she was singing the songs, her voice was just angelic.”

Then beyond the gaudy glow of the adrenalised sound of the song, he began to dig beneath the surface. “It was pretty deep. I guess it was about two people in a relationship and the woman was saying, that if she could, she would make a deal with God and swap places so the man could understand how a woman thinks and the woman could understand how the man thinks and they could have a better relationship… which is fucking cool as shit.”

This song also created something that he aimed to replicate with Outkast: a little cinematic world that you delve into and imagine unfurling. As it happens, it conjured some pretty specific thoughts for Big Boi. As he explained: “I always thought of her like the Phantom of the Opera. She’s somewhere living big castle with a piano that was ten times the size of a regular piano, playing it all day, with shea curtains blowing in the window all, like Rapunzel but on the top of a hill somewhere in a castle, desolate, playing a piano and wailing.”

Adding with a definite air of adoration and respect: “It was just so weird, the sounds and what she was talking about, it was just kind of crazy, and then it was like, ‘y’know she produced all this stuff too’ so I was like, ‘Oh man!’.”

The track took Big Boi on a literal journey which was signposted by his favourite verse in history, earmarked by the very small detail of Bush briefly crooning, “’It’s yoouuu and meeee’” – That’s my favourite part. For one, it was good to pedal too. It made you go fast. When the drums came on it was like a workout song. I had to ride like 20 or 30 blocks to school. So, I would just listen to it and ride, it was adventurous.” 

The verse, this little swooning interlude of sustained vowels and the brief pause to the thunderous melody that they bring, is proof of what he finds so magical about Bush’s music. “Her songs tell stories; we also tell stories. Sometimes there is a double meaning in what she says. And the layers of production—how the songs morph, they might start one way then they morph and break down into something. It’s very theatrical.”