Vampire Weekend: One Lyric’s Journey Through Time

Vampire Weekend Step

I am nerded out for Vampire Weekend‘s “Modern Vampires Of The City” to come out on May 14th. I know…that’s the whitest sentence ever. What if I told you I was wearing a Lacoste polo and Sperrys as I wrote it?

There’s a lot of gems in the piece NPR did with them this week. Like for instance, the album cover is from the New York City smog problem of 1966 which you might remember from THIS Mad Men episode. Or that the band treats the three albums like a continuing story with the last track always meant to be followed by the following album’s first.

Someone just made my list of things to do that night.

But the real interesting thing to me was surrounding the song “Step“. Which if you haven’t heard it yet…LISTEN!


It’s a special song, that I can’t wait to come to me via a device besides YouTube. But I had no idea of its origins.

Bob Boilen: “Step” has its origins in a song by the Bay Area rap group Souls of Mischief.

Ezra Koenig: Souls Of Mischief I’ve always loved. I kind of associate them with the first time that I really started become a music fan as a young teenager. This song apparently was recorded around the time of their first album, which was called 93 ’til Infinity, but it never made the record and it floated around as a bootleg for awhile. I only discovered it five or six years ago but it always really stuck with me, especially the chorus. I didn’t know where it came from but they’re kind of like scratching somebody saying, “Every time I see you in the world, you always step to my girl.” Slowly as I listened to this song, I found myself kind of writing this alternate song based on that phrase.

I see…


Ok, I can kick it, yes I can. Consider yourself added to the playlist. But wait…what? There’s more?

Ezra Koenig: Later we found out that that in of itself is a sample from a rapper called YZ. We didn’t know that at the time. This was kind of the inspiration to write this other song that became “Step.”

You can also hear how the vocal melody of our chorus kind of riffs on that saxophone sample that you hear on the Souls of Mischief song. We had to go clear the samples, and we had to find out where Souls of Mischief gathered all their pieces from. Like I said, that line, “every time I see you in the world, you always step to my girl,” comes from this rapper YZ. But that saxophone melody is actually a cover by Grover Washington Jr. of a song by Bread called “Aubrey,”

Wow. 1:25 mark if you will…


AND…


So that means that is this?


Breathe. You just got Inception’d by Vampire Weekend! May 14th countdown is on.

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