City Girls finally released their viral TikTok hit “Twerkulator” after lengthy negotiations to clear samples from Cajmere‘s 1992 track “Percolator” and Afrika Bambaataa’s 1982 unclassifiable classic “Planet Rock.”
The song appeared on a leaked version of their album, but was missing on the official release. That added lots of mystery. Via VICE:
Music licensing is tricky territory. Multiple people can be credited as writers and producers (and thus, rightsholders) on one song, and those who contribute to the song’s lyrics, melody, and production all need to be accounted for. While we don’t know the specifics of why “Twerkulator” wasn’t cleared—a rep for the duo declined to get into specifics when I asked in March, and a rep for Afrika Bambaataa said the artist is not involved in negotiations—it can be difficult to track down everyone who has a say in approving the use of a song, and even harder to get them all to agree to license it. “Twerkulator” also includes an interpolation of a refrain from Cajmere’s “Percolator”; Reps for Cajmere did not respond to VICE’s questions about the saga. Plus, legally sampling a song isn’t just confusing—it’s often costly.
“Planet Rock” is of course one of the most influential songs in underground early hip-hop. If you are not aware, listen and learn:
Cajmere was a dance stable in the early 1990s. Percolator and others retained the synthy 80s vibe of Planet Rock and other club music drawing in elements of new wave, hip-hop, R&B, and house music.
He reworked it with some cute kids a while back:
Image: YouTube / City Girls