Lil Uzi Vert doesn't like following the rules. It was only a few years ago the rapper stirred the world with his irreverent brand of emo-rap with songs like XO Tour Llif3 and The Way Life Goes. But today he has set his sights on another early-2000s trend.
Uzi's latest single, That Way, samples boy band, Backstreet Boys 1999 mega-hit I Want It That Way. The song caught everyone's attention, including Backstreet Boys' member, Nick Carter who was ecstatic. "OMG! Freaking LOVE @LILUZIVERT, now you're gonna have to be featured on our next album bud," he tweeted.
The chorus of the original song is interpolated into the hook, which is tempered by Uzi's signature crooning. That Way isn't just another vehicle for nostalgia but is actually a fresh take on one of pop music's most successful hits.
While at first glance it may seem that the Backstreet Boys and hip-hop are strange bedfellows, it turns out that the band has a long and rich history with the genre.
It all started in 1996...
The band's eponymous debut album released in 1996 arrived with a bang, and is still considered to be one of the most successful debuts in pop music history. The record featured iconic singles like Quit Playin Games (With My Heart) and Get Down (You're The One For Me), but it was on the deep cuts where the band let loose.
Let's Have A Party sampled The Notorious B.I.G's Party And Bullshit as well as Sucker M.C.'s by Run-DMC. It's immediately clear on the swinging beat and the choral style that the band was taking some notes from hip-hop's greatest artists, and none more so than on the rap breakdown.
This isn't the only hip-hop influenced song on the record. Craig Mack's Flava In Your Ear, as well as Please Don't Go by KC & The Sunshine Band were both sampled in BSB's Don't Leave Me.
In 1997 Backstreet Boys turned to Method Man & Redman
While you may not remember Set Adrift on Memory Bliss, the 1997 track from the band's second album, Backstreet's Back it may surprise you to learn that it was actually a remake of the classic hit song by hip-hop group P.M. Dawn. The boy band's version was instead a ballad and slowed right down with few callbacks to the original. The track was further embellished by a sample of Method Man and Redman's How High.
The Neptunes Remix
Remember when b-sides were filled with funk, hip-hop and dance remixes? For the Backstreet Boys 2001 song, The Call production duo The Neptunes stepped up to the plate. Together Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo created a stripped-down version of the dark BSB track filled with flutes, percussion, and a funky bassline. The package also arrived with an instrumental version of the remix.
Uzi isn't the first rapper inspired by I Want It That Way
In 2018, veteran-turned-rapper, JPEGMAFIA shared his new Backstreet Boys-inspired song, Millennium Freestyle. The romantic salvo is layered over a sparse, contorted and crackly beat with the rapper singing the chorus of I Want It That Way.
This brings us to 2019 when Chance The Rapper teamed up with the Backstreet Boys for a Superbowl commercial. The ad for Dorito's new Flamin' Hot Nachos sees the Chicago rapper singing I Want It That Way with the boy band themselves. And we were also gifted bars like these: "Hot stuff all over my nachos/Walkin' like a taco/Driving over potholes/Hotter than a pot roast."