Rodriguez - The Music

"...You're Da Man, Sugar Man..."

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25th February 2002

There have been two major sightings of the classic Rodriguez song ‘Sugar Man’ on the international music landscape over the past few weeks. The first is the unaccredited appearance of both the song’s melody line, and a sample of Rodriguez singing the words "sugar man", on the track ‘You’re Da Man’ off ‘Stillmatic’, the latest album by US rap star, Nas. In the context of the song’s chorus, it is easy for anyone who has never heard ‘Sugar Man’ before, to mis-hear the words "sugar man" as "you’re da man".

However no credit has been given to Rodriguez (the song’s composer) or to Interior Music (the song’s publishers) on the album’s sleeve, so it is unlikely that these samples were licensed for usage on this album. If that is the situation, then Rodriguez and Interior Music could be looking at a claim along the lines of that which cost UK group The Verve a bundle, when they used an obscure Stones/Loog Oldham sample for their ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ mega-hit. ‘Stillmatic’ is currently sitting at No. 11 on the Billboard Album charts, having racked up sales of over a million copies in the past eight weeks.

Across the pond (as they say), ‘Sugar Man’ has been selected by UK music man David Holmes, to open his upcoming CD collection of ‘60’s and ‘70’s cult classics, due for a UK release next month. Holmes recently worked on the soundtrack for the remake of the Rat Pack flick, ‘Oceans Eleven’, starring George Clooney (Holmes also compiled the soundtrack for the Clooney/Jennifer Lopez film ‘Out Of Sight’).

Holmes will be releasing this new mix album, entitled 'Come Get It I Got It’, on March 25th in the UK. The album is his second officially released "live" mix album, and will be available through his 13 AMP record label. This album has already been mentioned in articles in the NME (with full tracklisting), and in The Face magazine, where the song ‘Sugar Man’ got a special mention and a Dylan comparison. Holmes’ previous compilation album from 2000, titled ‘Bow Down To The Exit Sign’, was described as "a mixed cassette tape made by someone who has the coolest record collection".

So the Rodriguez word is spreading, even in his hometown of Detroit, where a recent unexpected live appearance at a local street party, brought him closer to the general attention of that city’s music media and fans. A possible trip to London for some live performances is being considered, and this new exposure could see that happening later this year. Interest in Rodriguez in the UK and Europe has been growing steadily over the past few years, always helped no doubt by the many South African and Australians currently living in London and other major Euro centres.

Yet the strange fact is that the ‘Cold Fact’ CD is still only available, anywhere in the world, as an Australian import on the Blue Goose label. That’s also quite "Nas-ty", don’t you think ?

-- Stephen Segerman, SA Rock Digest Issue #144, 25th February 2002

You're the Man
I'd like to make a correction if I may, regarding the statement (talking about the Sugar Man sample in Nas's You're Da Man): "for anyone who has never heard 'Sugar Man' before, to mis-hear the words "sugar man" as "you're da man"." (see above).

What we hear is really "you're the man". Large Professor (The producer of the song, hence the one who used the sample).

What he did was cut "you're the" from the lines "Sugar man, you're the answer that makes my question disappear" and the "man" from any "sugar man" heard in the song.

Just thought I should clear that out. The song's great if you're a (true) rap fan.

By the way, due to some sample hunting, I found out about this song and I absolutely love it. I am now looking for more Rodriguez songs and the more I find them the more I become a fan.
Carlos Garcia, 7th January 2003

Extract from a 2002 interview with Large Professor from the Junk Media website.

So let's say, for example, you used that Rodriguez in "You're the man." Twice you used that sample. So that's kind of the vibe you had listening to that record?

Um, that was....I don't know. The way that he performed it, and it's saying "Sugar man," but then I'm cutting the S part off, and then it's flipped to where you give the illusion that it's saying "You're the man." So that's more with the record than anything. You know, messing with the records, chopping them and cutting little pieces off.

SA Rock Digest Issue #149, 2nd April 2002

Sugar man Classic tracks: Rodriguez 'Sugarman' + Muddy Waters 'Tom Cat' released as 500 limited edition 7-inch, taken from David Holmes' mix album 'Come Get It I Got It'. 13 Amp Recordings AMP7001. Release date April 15.

Two of the best and most jaw-dropping tunes on David Holmes' acclaimed mix album 'Come Get It I Got It' have been lifted as a limited edition seven-inch single on the DJ's own 13 Amp label.

Rodriguez's strange and beguiling 'Sugarman' is an out-and-out paean to a broad smorgasbord of controlled substances and the ache experienced whilst, ahem, waiting for the man. It is imbued with such a post-Vietnam atmosphere of lost innocence that it brings new heights to a certain brand of Californian wistful alienation. Rodriguez, what a dude you were/are!

Altogether now: "silver magic ships, jumpers, coke, sweet mary-jane". And a bag of doughnuts to the first person who can tell us what exactly is a "silver magic ship"?

Muddy Waters' 'Tom Cat' is about the other main concern reflected on 'Come Get It I Got It', namely: hot young tail and how to get it. "I'm a tom cat and you're my kitten and I'm sitting here licking my paws," sings Muddy {who would have been 87 this week - ed} in a voice intimating that it might not only be his paws he's interested in having licked. Taken from his amazing 'Electric Mud' record this is one record you have just got to own.

(13 Amp press release, thanks to Tim Forster)

Uncut: Drawing on a broad spectrum of Sixties and Seventies lysergic soul and funk, Holmes has included cuts by well-known artists (Muddy Waters' "Tom Cat", Johnny Otis' "Country Girl"), but it is really his unsurpassed ability to access tracks that time forgot that makes this album so great - Rodriguez's pleading paean to narcotics, "Sugarman", Harold Alexander's "Mama Soul" freakout odyssey and Betty Adams' belting "Make it Real (Ride On)".
-- Uncut magazine, April 2002, thanks to John Samson
Come Get It I Got It David Holmes' recent compilation CD has sold over 50 000 copies to date and is currently number 143 in the sales rank. A "music fan" from Cambridge was moved to write on the website that he would give David Holmes' CD 5 stars straight away for opening with "the fantastic 'Sugarman' by the rarely heard and criminally ignored Sixto Rodriguez. It's beautiful, a great opener, and I love it." He actually gave the whole CD only 3 stars.
-- SA Rock Digest, May 2002

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