Vampire Weekend’s Hip-Hop Connections


At the top of 2014, Vampire Weekend blessed the world with a rapper-fortified remix to the group’s song “Step,” with Danny Brown, Despot and Heems adding their vocals to the mix. It’s not the first time Ezra Koenig’s ensemble has doffed a hat to hip-hop though. Here’s a YouTube-friendly trawl through their rap vault.

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1. The Original “Step”
The first take of “Step,” which was released last year, gave a coy nod to the Bay Area crew Souls of Mischief’s one-time bootleg classic “Step To My Girl.” Further adding on to the rap referential shenanigans, the line that Koenig became smitten by — “Every time I see you in the world you step to my girl” — is nabbed from New Jersey representer YZ’s “Who’s That Girl.” Nicely, the guest raps on the “Step” remix seem to take a cue from the content of the mighty Souls’ song.

2. “Juicy”
The Notorious BIG’s “Juicy” is a joyous hip-hop anthem–and its appeal clearly caught the ears of Koenig as he interpolated part of Biggie’s opening verse for his own lyrics on “Giant.” Instead of Big’s beloved Word Up! magazine though, the Vampire Weekend man is found thumbing through a tattered copy of Thrasher magazine while peeping pics of skaters in California.

3. B.o.B’s Homage
Proving that the influence runs both ways, Atlanta’s six-string-bandying rap upstart B.o.B tapped into the Vampire’s grooves for his debut album track “The Kids.” Sensibly, though, he does not attempt any falsetto crooning.

4. Theophilus London’s Sample
The foppish Brooklynite Theophilus London likes to draw from a wide palette when it comes to crafting his music, and for “Give It Up Dad” he almost wholesale jacked into Vampire Weekend’s “Giving Up The Gun.” It’s a smart clash, with London riding the perky production with smooth aplomb.

5. The Pizza Party Incident
Before there was Vampire Weekend there was, er, L’Homme Run, a twee and cringe-worthy attempt at some sort of an ironic-styled rap troupe. “Pizza Party” has become their most notable remnant. It includes a reference to a “wack calzone.”

6. The RZA
The official video for Vampire Weekend’s “Giving Up The Gun” features a cameo from the Wu-Tang Clan’s head honcho RZA. He plays a tennis umpire. It’s almost enough to forgive the “Pizza Party” debacle.