Hugo on Jay-Z & "99 Problems": "I Said, Listen, I Want to Do Your Song, and I Want to Put a Banjo on It. What Do You Think About That?"

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If you listen to the radio, you've heard Hugo's banjo-plunking, sacrilegious cover of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" --it's the #2 most requested song on 107.7 The

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Hugo on Jay-Z & "99 Problems": "I Said, Listen, I Want to Do Your Song, and I Want to Put a Banjo on It. What Do You Think About That?"

  • Hugo on Jay-Z & "99 Problems": "I Said, Listen, I Want to Do Your Song, and I Want to Put a Banjo on It. What Do You Think About That?"

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    If you listen to the radio, you've heard Hugo's banjo-plunking, sacrilegious cover of Jay-Z's "99 Problems"--it's the #2 most requested song on 107.7 The End right now, and the New York (by way of London, by way of Thailand) singer was in town last night, playing a show at EMP. Hip-hop fans, don't be offended by the cover--it's 100% Hova-approved; Hugo is signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label. I met Hugo last night for drinks before his show, and this is what he told me about how the cover came to be.

    I asked him, I said, "Listen, I want to do your song, and I want to put a banjo on it. What do you think about that?" He was like, "Go ahead."

    The banjo has the percussive, it would pick up everything the drums were doing on the original. And also . . . it's the most inappropriate instrument for hip-hop. It's so white and country, that to put it on a track that's so black and urban would be the only way to do it. Either you do something and you take it all the way to the other side, or you just put it in the middle where it's sort of faithful to the original . . . I can't compete with Jay-Z and do a rap song. It's just going to sound wrong. I tried singing some of his lyrics on it, and I realized I had to just keep the hook and change the lyrics and sing them. In a sick way, I almost wanted people to think that maybe this was older than Jay-Z's version, like maybe this was the original. Like what would it sound like if this phrase was from a folk song in the '30s, and he took it from that?

    After the cover was recorded, Hugo was in the room when Jay-Z heard the song for the first time.

    What was Jigga's response?

    You'll have to wait and read my column, Through @ 2, this week to find out.

     
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