Artists are prone to taking inspiration from all different sources, even across the lines of genre, and especially across the lines of time by calling upon vintage acts and artists to pay tribute to, and it appears that Wu-Tang Clan is one of the groups that has managed to sit on both sides of that exchange.
While so many young rappers and rap groups make a point to sample and pay tribute to Wu-Tang, the group have also done their fair share of doing the same for those that have inspired them, and one of those examples is actually The Beatles.
Specifically, the song ‘Heart Gently Weeps’ is, as you may have guessed, based on the Beatles song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. Technically, this is one of the first rap songs to actually utilise a sample from a Beatles track, which seems to be a popular move ever since they took the plunge to do it.
Even underneath all of the fun details of the callback, there’s more than meets the eye when looking into ‘Heart Gently Weeps’. Namely, all of the personal touches that make the song what it is are a part of colouring its landscape. Of course, the track uses a sample of the original song, but it isn’t a direct rip.
The cover version that Wu-Tang Clan used as a sample actually featured three notable musicians that are worth further examining in terms of their place within the song. The original song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was written by George Harrison, so Dhani Harrison, his son, was recruited to play acoustic guitar on the track. It’s a great way to honour the legacy of the original writer of the song.
In addition to the musicianship itself, the equipment surrounding the story is also extremely cool, as the guitar part was played using a mint-condition Gretsch guitar from 1961, which was given to RZA as a gift from Russell Crowe after they had finished filming American Gangster. It’s yet another piece of the puzzle that makes the sample, and therefore the song, special.
However, Harrison isn’t the only notable participant from the cover version. A little-known fun fact is that John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is also featured on the song, playing lead guitar. If you listen closely, you might even be able to hear his style come through in the sample if you’re familiar with his sound.
The other notable musician featured on the song is a little easier to spot: R&B singer Erykah Badu, who was brought in to sing the chorus. His vocal part, again, adds a layer to the song and the sample that makes it all even sweeter.
If you want to listen to one of the first-ever songs to use a Beatles sample in a rap song, you can check out ‘Heart Gently Weeps’ if you haven’t heard it already. Even if you have, it’s a great one to revisit time and time again.