The K-Pop/Kanye/Kay-Gee Connection

I did a little musical detective work this morning.

It started when my brother posted this Korean confection, called “Superfantastic,” on his Tumblr.  It’s a song by K-Pop duo the Peppertones, and it’s pretty bonkers.

“Superfantastic” sounded strangely familiar to me, until I realized that the chorus was awfully similar to “Celebration” from Kanye West’s Late Registration.

NSFW Lyrics:

Could Kanye be listening to K-Pop? That seems odd, but not totally out of the question. “Superfantastic” is from the album Colorful Express, released in 2005. Late Registration also dropped in 2005. This timing was probably a little too compressed for one to have influenced the other – perhaps there was a shared progenitor. So I dug a little deeper…

It turns out Kanye sampled this slow jam, “Heavenly Dream,” from the Kay Gee’s 1975 album Burn Me Up. The Kay Gee’s were a band from Jersey City, NJ, formed by Kevin Bell, the younger brother of Kool and the Gang’s Ronald Bell.

I suspect that this is the original source for both Kanye and the Peppertones.  Regardless, I’m pretty sure that’s one of the most catchy chord progressions of all time:

I – – – |I/bVII – – – |VIm7 – – bVIm7|Vm7 – I7 – |IVmaj7 – – – | – – – – |bVII7sus4 – – – |bVII7 – – -|

That’s up there with the “Just the Two of Us” chord changes, which when reversed are the changes to Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” which also appear in the chorus of “Heavenly Dream!”

This music nerd moment was brought to you by Twenty Dollars.

Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 11:38 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Matt,

    I don’t hear either Kanye or the KayGees in that K-Pop tune. In fact if you listen to the whole 4-bar progression it sounds more like Confirmation to me. Perhaps that’s where it all started, consciously or not. (Only a jazz nerd would say that, so hello fellow nerds) I like the Kanye tune, btw. Is that picture pulsating or is just an optical illusion? Or am I going mad?

    • Hi Gary,

      Yeah, “Superfantastic” has different changes, but something about it really reminded me of Kanye. It’s still basically a walk down from I to IV, and the melodic shape is similar to the sample Kanye used. Good call on the “Confirmation” changes.

      The Kanye track was arranged/produced by Jon Brion, which is one of the reasons that it’s so awesome. The whole album is great.

      Also, I’m pretty sure you’re going mad.

  2. Glad you liked the Peppertones. If you enjoyed that, you might enjoy a sojourn through the “new stereophonic sound spectacular” insanity that is the Pizzicato Five:

    Speaking of insanity, my first encounter with Pizzicato Five was an appearance on Viva Variety performing “It’s a Beautiful Day”:


    (not Viva Variety, unfortunately, but almost as strange)


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