The Bee Gees made a huge impact on pop music — and they didn’t always like that impact. Once, a world-famous rapper sampled the vocals from their hit “Stayin’ Alive.” Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees opened up about how he and his bandmates reacted when they heard the sample. In addition, here’s how the public reacted to the new song.
The rap song that slowed down the baseline of ‘Stayin’ Alive’
Rap and disco have a long history together. One of the earliest rap songs to make a commercial impact, “Rapper’s Delight,” had a disco beat. Since then, rappers from Kanye West to Doja Cat to Nicki Minaj have incorporated disco elements into their music. In fact, one rapper sampled one of the most famous disco hits ever — “Stayin’ Alive.”
After making a splash with his band The Fugees, Wyclef Jean debuted as a solo artist with his album The Carnival. The Carnival lived up to its title through its eclecticism. The album includes everything from reggae to soul to, of course, disco. Jean made the bold move to sample “Stayin’ Alive” on the track “We Trying to Stay Alive.” “We Trying to Stay Alive” takes the baseline from “Stayin’ Alive” but slows it down and makes it less prominent in the mix than it was in the original track.
The video for “We Trying to Stay Alive” pays homage to the Bee Gees by drawing from the dance scenes from Saturday Night Fever. As many fans know, several of the Bee Gees’ biggest hits appeared on the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever. In an interview with MTV News, the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb opened up about his band’s reaction to Jean’s song.
What the Bee Gees and the public thought of ‘We Trying to Stay Alive’
“They didn’t approach us about sampling our voices and we heard the final thing and thought, ‘well it’s fun, but we don’t really like it,” Gibb said. “I have to say I do not like anyone sampling our voices. Don’t like it. Don’t approve of it.” The Bee Gees didn’t approve of “We Trying to Stay Alive” — but did the world as a whole?
According to Stereogum, “We Trying to Stay Alive” reached No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100. At best, it qualifies as a minor hit. According to the book All Music Guide: The Definitive Guide to Popular Music, “We Trying to Stay Alive” helped The Carnival to receive a gold certification.
On the other hand, “Stayin’ Alive” became one of the biggest hits of all time. In 2018, Billboard said “Stayin’ Alive” was the 59th most successful song in the history of the chart. Unless there have been major shakeups in the past two years, the track is probably still one of the biggest hits ever. Gibb preferred “Stayin’ Alive” to “We Trying to Stay Alive” — and so did the public.
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