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A Gold Digger is a woman who wants a man only for his money. She is an undesirable character, since she will use deception and guile to get her way, then she will leave when times get tough and take whatever she can. Famous musicians, actors and athletes have to deal with Gold Diggers on a regular basis.
This samples the 1954 Ray Charles song "I Got A Woman
." Quite the opposite of "Gold Digger," Charles sings about a woman who is real good to him and very supportive, so much so that she gives him money when he needs it. So throughout "Gold Digger," Ray Charles is singing, "She gives me money when I'm in need." It works because Jamie Foxx appears on the intro to "Gold Digger" where he channels Ray Charles but changes the lyrics to "She takes
my money when I'm in need." Foxx was very adept at impersonating Ray Charles, and for the rest of the song, most listeners will hear Charles' sample as "She takes my money." In 2004, Foxx won an Oscar for playing Ray Charles in the movie Ray
. Foxx is an accomplished singer and pianist, and spent a lot of time learning how to portray Charles for the movie.
This is the first song featuring a reigning Academy Award winning actor to hit #1 in the US top 100 charts during the so-called "Rock and Soul" era. Frank Sinatra won Best supporting Actor in 1953 for his work in From Here to Eternity and was beforehand a dominant mainstay in the swing and bebop-oriented US pop charts, hitting number one several times.
Kanye West for his part talks about other rappers and singers in his rap, including Busta Rhymes and Usher, most likely in jest.
This isn't the first Rap song to cover the gold digger topic. On their 1990 song "Gold Digger," EPMD rap about how they have to watch out for these women, whose goal is usually to get pregnant by a guy who is rich and famous.
This song is a prime example of an outright funny song that does not get labeled in the "novelty" genré for some reason. Other famous songs that escaped novelty are Elvis Presley's Hound Dog
and the Beatles I Am The Walrus
. (thanks, wik - Brooklyn, NY, for above 5)
The album version has West singing, "She ain't messin' with no broke nigga." In the radio edit, "Nigga" is replaced with "Broke."
West and Foxx performed this on the 2006 Grammy awards. They each led a small marching band on stage.
When West sings about a football player you can see "Any given Sunday," he's paying homage to a movie Foxx starred in with that title.
Kanye West found himself being sued in 2013 for using an unlicensed sample from the 1974 song "Bumpin' Bus Stop" by Thunder & Lightning on this track. The suit claimed that West borrowed a 13-second portion of the track in which band member David Pryor's voice can be heard exclaiming "Get Down" three times, echoing West's lyrics "Get down girl, get down, get down." Pryor's children, Trena Steward and Lorenzo Pryor, demanded several million dollars in damages as well as a block on future sales of the song.
West originally created this for rapper Shawnna's 2004 debut album Worth Tha Weight. When she didn't record it, he redid the hook from a female perspective to a male one and recruited Jamie Foxx as a featured artist.
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