Mark Ronson recorded much of Uptown Special at Memphis' Royal Studios. Established in 1956, it is one of the oldest continuously operated music recording studios in the world. In its time, it has hosted such legendary acts as Chuck Berry, Ike & Tina Turner and Al Green. A chance encounter with Mystikal at the studio led to the New Orleans rapper throwing down some unhinged rhymes for this tune.
The song made its live debut when Mystikal performed the tune during the November 22, 2014 episode of Saturday Night Live. Mystikal was not the musical guest for that episode - Ronson and Bruno Mars were. Mars, however, was willing to join the backup crew and let the rapper take center stage for the performance while Ronson joined on guitar.
Among the instruments featured on Uptown Special is the drum kit used on Al Green's 1972 album Let's Stay Together.
Mark Ronson told the story of the song to The Guardian. "In 2012, Mystikal put out a song called 'Hit Me' that a lot of my DJ friends went crazy for," he said. "It kind of went under the radar but I loved it."
When Ronson was in New Orleans with co-producer Jeff Bhasker, the jazz musician Trombone Shorty told him he should look up Mystikal when he got to Baton Rouge. "We got there and kicked it with Mystikal and [legendary New Orleans rap producer] KLC for a bit," said Ronson. "When we got to Memphis a few weeks later, Mystikal came up and we cut this song. The backing track was something that me and the band had recorded on a whim a few weeks back but it worked out to be so well suited to his vocal style."
The song's music video was co-directed by Bruno Mars with Cameron Thomas Duddy, who has shot many of the Hawaiian-born singer's visuals. The clip shows a young boy entering the Sunnydale High talent competition, who is introduced to a bored audience by original Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson. The youngster's energetic rendition of this song earns him 10 points from the contest's judges, Bruno Mars, Mystikal and Mark Ronson.
Sunnydale High is the fictional high school portrayed in Buffy The Vampire Slayer.