Sample Sunday: One Step Ahead

Aretha, by Hank Parker (1965)

Aretha, by Hank Parker (1965)

Song: One Step Ahead
Artist: Aretha Franklin
Writer: Eddie Snyder and Charles Singleton
Released: Released as a single in 1965
Sampled By: Mos Def, Ms. Fat Booty, Black on Both Sides, 1998

Most of us have experienced the full cycle of a romantic relationship. You will meet a stranger; at the supermarket in aisle six, or while pumping gas or sometimes even at the God forsaken club, as described in Ms. Fat Booty. This stranger will have an inexplicable pull on you. Perhaps something superficial,

Ass so fat that you can see it from the front

or sometimes it is their pure energy that attracts you. Whatever the reason, this stranger will become a lover. You will become very important to each other. Days and weeks and months will pass and you will become intimate with this person; learning the things that make them hiss with pleasure, their history, the things that are important to them, their dreams and fears. They too, will learn every corner of you.

Weeks of dating, late night conversation/In the crib heart racing trying to be cool and patient/. . .Man I smashed it like an Idaho potato

Then comes love, or a fast growing lust.

Three months, she call I feel I’m running a fever/Six months, I’m telling her I desperately need her/Nine months, blue light symptoms when shorty’s not around/I need more than to knock it down/I’m really trying to lock it down

One day, everything will be different. There will be a small catalyst that will change how you view them. Maybe you start to notice that they never say thank you or that they do not share the same goals or that they do not love you as much as you love them. That is the day that they become a stranger again. Isn’t that how it works, sometimes? We meet a stranger who we learn, only for them to become strangers again. Both parties are guilty of finally showing parts of themselves they’d kept hidden under layers of sweet words and new love. New love is a beautiful thing, but it is blind. If it is a love meant to last, the concept of loving a stranger is wonderful, as you continuously discover something new about your partner.

Ms. Fat Booty is a perfect three minute and forty-four second example of this very thing. Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) is such a great storyteller and creates vivid scenes of the stranger-lover-stranger cycle.

I love that Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) chose this song, as he created a prequel to Aretha’s 1965 single. One Step Ahead is a song that shows the aftermath of an ended love. When you are going through the motions of leaving a relationship, it is not often a clean break. For most of us, there will be months and sometimes years where we go back and forth between loving and not loving them. There will be days when you will take six steps ahead only to hear them call your name and take eight steps back.

One step is all I have to take/Backwards to be the same ole fool for you/I used to be/I’m only one step ahead of your arms/One kiss away from your sweet lips/I know I can’t afford to stop/For one moment-

What I like the most about Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) sampling One Step Ahead is that he created a continuation of its meaning. A good sample is one where the original is looped in as a backdrop, but becomes the nucleus of the song, the essence and meaning never lost.


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