Strike It Up

Album: Dreamland (1990)
Charted: 16 8
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Songfacts®:

  • "Strike It Up" was one of many high-energy hits of the early '90 with pulsating synths, verses by a male rapper, and a scorching chorus by female singer. The "Strike It Up" chorus is particularly hot, with the vocals by Martha Wash, formerly of The Weather Girls ("It's Raining Men"). Wash was merely the voice of Black Box though; her part was played in the videos, on the cover art, and in live performance by a French model named Katrin Quinol, who didn't speak English.

    Black Box is the creation of three Italian producers: Daniele Davoli, Mirko Limoni, and Valerio Semplici. According to Wash, they hired her to do demo vocals but then used those vocals on the actual songs, paying her just a flat fee for her demo sessions. She filed a lawsuit and ended up credited on the tracks.

    Remarkably, this wasn't the only time Wash was misappropriated: She also sang uncredited on "(You're My One and Only) True Love" by Seduction and "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C+C Music Factory.
  • The rapper is Lee Bennett, who goes by Stepz.
  • The "yeeeah" vocal is sampled from the 1978 The Brothers Johnson song "Ain't We Funkin' Now." Black Box liked to pepper their tracks with these kind of sampled interjections: on "Everybody Everybody" they used a sample of Oran "Juice" Jones for the recurring "Owww"s.
  • The breakthrough for Black Box came in 1989 with the single "Ride On Time," which didn't use Martha Wash but did use an unwitting vocalist. For that one, the producers used a recording of the clean vocals of Loleatta Holloway singing her 1980 dance song "Love Sensation." Holloway was furious and took legal action, but that didn't stop the Italian music-makers from using Wash's vocals without her permission.
  • The little drum break midway through the song is a sample of the 1975 Gloria Gaynor song "Reach Out I'll Be There."
  • The original version has a different first verse, with lyrics lifted from a 1988 house music track called "Acid House" by Nelshouse feat. FFWD (Nelson Cruz). It begins:

    If I have the line and you have the bass
    Let's just combine, no need to waste our time
    Get together, you never know what we'll find
    'Cause acid house is plain and it's simple
    Pump up the bass and raise up the treble...


    In the single, the video, and later pressings of the album, this part was replaced, with just the first line remaining:

    If I have the line and you have the bass
    Then strike it up and you'll find the rhythm's on time
    Line after line going straight to your mind
    'Cause hyping the place is what we're all about
    Moving your waist to the bass is no doubt...


    Cruz and his "Acid House" co-writers are credited as writers on "Strike It Up."
  • After "Ride On Time," Black Box had their first Martha Wash-sung hit with "I Don't Know Anybody Else," followed by "Everybody Everybody," a cover of "Fantasy" by Earth, Wind & Fire, and finally "Strike It Up." "Everybody Everybody" and "Strike It Up" achieved the exact same chart positions in both the US and UK: #8 in the US and #16 in the UK.
  • "Strike It Up" was revived as a Jock Jam in 1995, appearing on the original Jock Jams CD. This got it played in a lot of sporting events, often after a moment of glory for the home team. In 1997, it was included in the "The Jock Jam Mega Mix."
  • The song appears in the movies Senior Year (2002), Delivery Man (2013), and One Last Dance (2003), and also in the 2019 Pose episode "What Would Candy Do?"

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