Judging by his history with King Crimson and a new claim from Aphex Twin, that whole respect your elders thing doesn’t seem to apply to Kanye West. Some context: Yes, the rapper/producer reached out to Robert Fripp personally about the prominent “Schizoid Man” sample in his “Power” single, but that was only after the song had already racked up a million hits on YouTube. According to a rare interview with the Financial Times, that problem partially stemmed from his rough ongoing relationship with Universal. “I couldn’t concentrate on music,” he explained, citing the poor level of communication between Fripp and Universal as they acquired labels who owned the rights to King Crimson’s record. “So I made the choice to give up my career as a musician in the frontline to deal with the business.”
While Fripp sounds glum throughout that feature, Richard D. James seems to find his negative experience with West’s production team quite funny. According to a Pitchfork interview with the producer, West essentially lifted Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14th” wholesale on the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy track “Blame Game,” tweaking it to the point where they felt like they owed him nothing. He laughs it off now.
“I actually don’t know what it ended up being in the end,” James admits. “I’m so slack. I know that he tried to fucking rip me off and claim that he’d written it, and they tried to get away with not paying. I was really helpful, and when they first sent it to me, I was like, ‘Oh, I can re-do that for you, if you like,’ because they’d sampled it really badly and time-stretched it and there was loads of artifacts. I was like, ‘I’ll just replay it for you at that speed if you want.’ And they totally didn’t even say ‘hello’ or ‘thanks,’ they just replied with, ‘It’s not yours, it’s ours, and we’re not even asking you any more.’”
See just how close the two cuts are below, along with a side-by-side comparison of “Power” and “21st Century Schizoid Man”…