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Jay-Z lied to the composers of “Annie” to clear “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” sample

In order to clear the sample for his smash hit “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” which was produced by The 45 King, Jay-Z lied to the Annie original songwriters, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin in a letter talking about how much the TV version of Annie meant to him growing up because he had won an essay-writing contest and saw Annie on Broadway as a kid. Both ended up being a lie. He only watched it on TV.

“I wrote a letter about how much Annie meant to me growing up and how I went to a Broadway play — which was an exaggeration. “I saw it on TV. It was a bad lie … for a good reason.” Jay-Z told the NPR in a 2010 interview.

Jay-Z also explained how he lied to secure the Annie sample in his 2010 memoir, Decoded.

“We might not all have literally been orphans, but a whole generation of us had basically raised ourselves in the streets. So I decided to write the company a letter myself. I made up this story about how when I was a seventh-grader in Bed-Stuy, our teacher held an essay contest and the three best papers won the writers a trip to the city to see Annie. A lie. I wrote that as kids in Brooklyn we hardly ever came into the city. True. I wrote that from the moment the curtain came up I felt like I understood honey’s story. Of course, I’d never been to see Annie on Broadway. But I had seen the movie on TV. Anyway, they bought it, cleared it, and I had one of my biggest hits.”

“Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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