Can I Kick It?

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"Can I Kick It?"
Single by A Tribe Called Quest
from the album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
B-side "If the Papes Come"
Released 1991
Format 12" maxi single
Recorded 1989-1990
Genre Alternative hip hop, jazz rap
Length 4:11 (album version)
4:24 (The Anthology version)
6:39 (boilerhouse mix)
Label Jive
Producer(s) A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest singles chronology
"Bonita Applebum"
(1990)
"Can I Kick It?"
(1991)
"Check the Rhime"
(1991)

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"Can I Kick It?" is the third single from A Tribe Called Quest's debut album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.[1] The song was first recorded in 1989, when the members of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Ali Shaheed, were just 19.[2]

It contains samples of "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed,[3] "What a Waste" by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, "Spinning Wheel" by Dr. Lonnie Smith, "Dance of the Knights" by Sergei Prokofiev and "Sunshower" by Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. The line "A Tribe Called Quest" is spoken by the British radio DJ Pete Tong. Tribe Called Quest rapper Phife Dawg has stated that because of the use of the "Walk on the Wild Side" sample, the group didn't receive any money from the single, with Lou Reed instead claiming the profits.[3]

Music video[edit]

The music video, directed by Jim Swaffield, features A Tribe Called Quest and various others, including members of De La Soul, literally kicking the word "it" while rapping in a film set, an alley, and a construction site. On the film set, they are seen playing with the dot for the "i" in "it". In the alley, they are walking around and are flipping on top of the "it". Other things, such as throwing drumsticks around and landing them on drums, are also seen in the video. A "flying record player" is featured, to play the Lou Reed sample. Also, there is a slightly different beat in the video, but the same lyrics from the album are used.

Other samples[edit]

The lines "Err, you can" and "th-then do so, at once" are sampled from the UK children's TV series SuperTed, from the character Spotty voiced by Jon Pertwee. The intro of the album version also contains a sample of "Jagger the Dagger" by Gene McDaniels. The video uses a non-album version of the song, titled "Can I Kick It? (Spirit Mix)" which uses additional samples, such as Baby Huey's "Hard Times," and the "Boilerhouse mix" contains samples of "Don't Let Love Get You Down" by Archie Bell & The Drells and the brooding orchestral samples come from Sergei Prokofiev and arguably his most famous classical piece "Montagues and Capulets" aka "Dance of the Knights."

Popular culture[edit]

In the second verse, Phife Dawg refers to former New York City mayor David Dinkins, the city's first African-American mayor: "Mr. Dinkins, would you please be my mayor?" The song was recorded before Dinkins's election to office.[4]

Covers[edit]

  • Rapper Sage Francis covered this song on his album Sick of Waging War. Francis' version contained changes in some of the lyrics. The song is sampled in the 2006 Black Eyed Peas single, Like That.
  • Rapper Jay-Z uses the chorus in the track, "22 Twos" on his debut album, Reasonable Doubt.
  • Rapper Jay Electronica incorporates the “Can I Kick It?” line into all of his live shows; it has become a tradition at shows for Jay to call out “Can I Kick It?” at which point his audience replies “Yes You Can!”, emulating the famous chorus.
  • Rapper Drake mentions the song in his song "Show Me a Good Time" when he raps, "tell me can we kick it like Ali Shaheed and Phife Dawg/people really hate when a backpack rapper get rich/and start livin' that life dawg".
  • Daniel Dumile (otherwise known as MF Doom) mentions the song during the Gorillaz song "November Has Come" from the album Demon Days.
  • Pop star Robbie Williams mentions the song in the track, Rock DJ on his album Sing When You're Winning.
  • Icelandic rap duo Bent and 7Berg made a version of the song in the Icelandic language called "Má Ég Sparka?".
  • Josh Martinez references this in the chorus of his song "Underground Pop" featuring Moka Only.
  • Australian hip-hop duo Horrorshow covered the song as well as a heavy infusion of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" on Australian radio station Triple J
  • WWE Superstar John Cena has been known to mention the song in several of his songs.
  • In Da Ali G Show a similar beat is played and fictional character Ali G raps 'Can I nick it?' to Muhammed Al Fayed
  • The Popguns covered this song. It appears on their albums Love Junky (1995) and A Plus De Cent (1996).
  • Peter Sonnega was voted as the number one cover musician of the song in 2009 by MTV.[5]
  • Chuck D. is quoted as quoting, "'Can I kick it?' Who the hell is on the radio?" on the Public Enemy track 'How To Kill A Radio Consultant' from the album 'Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Back'.
  • Rapper Nero quotes "Before this did you really know what live was?" in song "Alive & Vibrant"
  • Da Lench Mob refer to "Can I Kick It?" on their song "Buck tha Devil".
  • Swedish pop singer Lykke Li has been known to end her shows with it.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Today in Hip Hop History: A Tribe Called Quest Releases Debut Album". The Source. April 17, 2015. Retrieved August 9, 2015. 
  2. ^ Trendell, Andrew (July 3, 2015). "10 Brilliant Songs Written By Stars in Their Teens". Gigwise. Retrieved August 9, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Lou Reed dead: Tribe Called Quest sampled late legend's 'Walk on the Wild Side'". The Grio. October 28, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2015. 
  4. ^ "25 Years Later: A Tribe Called Quest's "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm" Album Still Holds Weight". The Boombox. April 17, 2015. Retrieved August 9, 2015. 
  5. ^ "The Popguns Discography". popguns.net. 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2011-01-27.