Wale paid homage to music icons past and present at VH1’s Hip Hop Honors 2009, which aired last night (October 13), but put his own twist on one performance.
Performing the Beastie Boys classic “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” at the tribute show, which celebrated Def Jam’s 25th anniversary, the DC rapper flipped the script on the Beasties’ rock-infused hit.
“I just changed the lyrics a little bit,” Wale told VIBE last month at the New York launch party for NBA2K10, one day after the show’s taping. “As much as I tried to memorize it I couldn’t, so I just said I’m just going to change it and show them some love.”
The rapper, who shared the stage with Gym Class Heroes and KRS-One, swapped in his own lines like “Def Jam 25, hands in the air/And wave them all around like you just don’t care/One time, make some noise/we’re doing this here for the Beastie Boys” into his closing verse of the song.
“The fact that I’m not a Def Jam artist and they wanted me to be a part of it was special to me,” said Wale, who also performed Kanye West‘s “Touch The Sky.”
While Wale’s improvisation was intentional, past Hip Hop Honors shows have generated controversy for artists forgetting lines. Most notably, in 2007, Lupe Fiasco faced the ire of Native Tongue followers when he flubbed the rhymes to A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Electric Relaxation”
“I forget the words to some of my own songs on stage,” a frustrated Lupe wrote in an Okayplayer post days later. “Hey it happens.” –John Kennedy