I Know You Got Soul

Album: Paid In Full (1987)
Charted: 13
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Songfacts®:

  • James Brown's right-hand man Bobby Byrd released "I Know You Got Soul" in 1971, where he sang: "I know you got soul - if you didn't you wouldn't be in here!"

    This Eric B. & Rakim track borrows the title and samples the main riff. Bobby Byrd's track let the groove carry the song, but Rakim fills this one with lyrics in a flow that generations of rappers would later study. He makes it clear that there is no use competing with him:

    Drop the mic, you shouldn't be holding it
  • This track has a classic open:

    It's been a long time
    I shouldn't have left you
    Without a strong rhyme to step to


    Paid In Full was the duo's first album, but Rakim wrote this part as if he'd been there all along. Aaliyah's producer Timbaland lifted this section for her 2000 track "Try Again," where Timbaland says:

    It's been a long time
    I shouldn't have left you
    Without a dope beat to step to
  • The drumbeat loop came from Funkadelic's "You'll Like It Too," and was produced with a old rack sampler called the Publison Infernal Machine that was programmed by the Power Play's engineer Ivan "Doc" Rodriguez. The Publison had a long sampling time of about 20 seconds. Also sampled is "Different Strokes," a 1967 track by Syl Johnson. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Roberto Funk - Viña del Mar, Chile
  • Rakim's line, "Pump up the volume," was sampled and used as the title of a huge hit by the DJ collaborative M/A/R/R/S released later in 1987.
  • Per convention, Eric B. & Rakim didn't get permission from Bobby Byrd to use his track, but they reached a settlement with him after the song was released. Byrd, along with the other writers of the songs that were sampled, is credited as a composer on the track.
  • The song did very well in the UK, boosting Bobby Byrd's profile in the process. Byrd began touring there, and in 1988, his "I Know You Got Soul" was re-released.
  • The next Eric B. & Rakim album, Follow the Leader, was titled after a line in this song:

    A gift to be swift
    Follow the leader
  • Eric B. & Rakim performed this track on the show Soul Train, getting a huge response at the line, "Grab the mic like I'm on Soul Train."

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