Jay-Z's Reggae-Sampling Hits 'Lucifer,' ‘Encore,' And 'Bam' Certified Gold In U.S.

Jay-Z‘s Lucifer (2003), Encore (2003), and Bam (2017) featuring Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley — which collectively sampled several classic Reggae songs — were each certified Gold in the United States on Monday (December 4).

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), these three tracks have each reached the sales and streaming equivalent of 500,000 units sold in the country. 

Bam is Marley’s second track to be certified Gold in the US, following Liquor Store Blues (2010) with Bruno Mars.  His Grammy Award-winning third studio album, Welcome To Jamrock (2005), is also certified Gold in the country.

Lucifer: Max Romeo’s Chase The Devil.

Jay-Z and producer Kanye West’s Lucifer had sampled Max Romeo‘s Chase The Devil (1976), blending the classic’s opening line with a dynamic piano riff and a whole lot of drums. Romeo, however, has recently sued Universal Music after claiming he’s not received “a penny in royalties” from this and other uses of his music.

Chase The Devil appeared on his War Ina Babylon album with the late producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. In a statement released in October, Romeo noted: “After 47 years, I have exhausted every resource available to me to get this matter rectified. I had to sit to the side as my most eminent piece of work was exploited without proper compensation.”

Lucifer appeared on the American rapper’s The Black Album, released in 2003.  A documentary on the making of the project had featured a segment showing Jay-Z and Kanye working on the song together:

Encore: John Holt’s I Will.

Still on The Black Album, Jay-Z and Kanye also sampled the opening horns from John Holt‘s 1976 Reggae cover of The Beatles’ I Will (1968) for their song Encore. For this reason, John Lennon and Paul McCartney are credited as songwriters on Encore.

I Will had appeared on Holt’s 2000 Volts of Holt album, released in 1976.  Known for other songs, such as Police In Helicopter and The Tide Is High, Holt passed away in 2014.

John Holt – Police In Helicopter (Photo courtesy: VP Records, Credit: Tim O’Sullivan)

Encore reached No. 6 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100.  

The Black Album peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and No. 34 on the UK Albums chart.  It is currently certified 4X Platinum in the US, for selling over 4 million units, and Platinum in the UK, for selling 300,000 units.

Bam: Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam, Jacob Miller’s Tenement Yard, Super Cat and Nicodemus’ Prerogative.

Bam, which appeared on Jay-Z’s thirteenth studio album, 4:44 (2017), had sampled several elements from Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam (1982). Marley’s verses also interpolated some lyrics from Bam Bam, Jacob Miller’s Tenement Yard (1976) and Super Cat and Nicodemus’ Prerogative (1990). 

The track, produced by No I.D., reached No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 93 on the UK Singles chart.

Jay-Z’s 4:44 album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 3 on the UK Albums chart and is currently certified 2X Platinum in the US, for selling over 2 million units, Silver in the UK, for selling over 60,000 units.

Jay-Z, Sister Nancy and Damian Marley (Photo credit: LargeUp)

Sister Nancy, who only began collecting royalties more than 30 years after Bam Bam’s release, had described Jay-Z and Kanye’s use of the track as “a blessing,” according to NME.  She appeared in the song’s official music video, shot in Jamaica, telling the publication: “I spent three days down there with him. It was nice, but a man is just a man. Jay-Z is just a man, same as you. He’s no different.”

For his part, Damian Marley had expressed honor to be considered for a part in project. “I met him a few times before doing any music with him,” he told DancehallMag in a 2021 interview. “Jay-Z is definitely one of the legends when it comes to modern music.”

Bam Bam was first recorded in 1982 for Nancy’s One, Two album with the late producer Winston Riley.  It had taken inspiration for its chorus from the Toots And The Maytals 1966 song of the same name, while the instrumental had sampled Ansell Collins’ Stalag 17 (1974). 

According to WhoSampled, 140 songs have sampled Sister Nancy’s tune, including Famous by Kanye West and Rihanna, Lost Ones by Lauryn Hill, Bomb by Chris Brown featuring Wiz Khalifa, and Do To Me by H.E.R.

Jacob Miller’s Tenement Yard, produced by Inner Circle brothers Ian and Roger Lewis, is the biggest hit from the late singer, who passed away in 1980.  Inner Circle teamed up with Chronixx for a remake of the track in 2014.

Super Cat and Nicodemus’ Prerogative (1990) appeared on their joint album with Junior Demus titled Cabin Stabbin that year.

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