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Fun Facts About Music That We Forgot About

This isn't a bait list: we all know "Umbrella" was originally written for Mary J Blige. Instead here's some weird music facts you may not know.
Ryan Bassil
London, GB

The human brain is a powerful tool. It has sent man into space, worked out how to agitate the water molecules in beef to create roast dinners that can be microwaved in five minutes, and created 102 different Doritos flavours.

But while only a gifted few can invent things that change the world, almost everyone can recall seemingly random facts at seemingly random intervals – whether they want to or not. For example: you’re eating lunch and remember in 2012 a 20 year-old girl legally auctioned off her virginity for £485,000, your primary school head teacher had a bowl cut, and you haven’t seen your cousins in about three years.

This happened to me the other morning. I woke up, remembered that Livin’ Joy’s “Dreamer” exists, and then started to recall other music facts. I tweeted a few and then thought fuck it, no one pays me to be on Twitter, I’ve got an article here.

So – with that in mind – here’s a bunch of random music facts that I had forgotten about. This isn’t one of those bait lists: we all know “Umbrella” was originally meant for Mary J Blige, Pharrell is old, and that you can play The Beatles albums backwards to reveal secret messages. Instead here's a few fun facts we had forgotten about.

T-Pain Can Actually Sing

Proof that T-Pain is an artist, he uses auto-tune for artistic purposes, and he does what he wants.

Akon’s Real Name is Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Bongo Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam

If this is true then Akon is undoubtedly the most outrageous man in music. He owned a diamond mine in South Africa, has a petrol station in his house, and once came up with the idea of a reality series in which his two nearly identical brothers would go around Atlanta posing as him and fooling people into thinking that they are in fact Akon. Fun Name Related Fact Number 2 & 3: Dj Khaled’s real name is Khaled Khaled and DJ Mustard is called DJ Mustard because his real name is Dijon.

Mac DeMarco “Chamber of Reflection”

We get it – Mac DeMarco is basically Eros in slacks and a pair of Vans. He flashed a gap tooth smile, shoved a drumstick up his butt, released a few albums, and now every girl that has ever shopped in Urban Outfitters dreams of the song’s he’ll write about their unborn children. “Chamber of Reflection” is the best song from his new one, Salad Days. But it’s also a rip-off / homage to this beautiful Japanese pop track from the 1970s. Hey Mac, if you’re reading this let’s share record collections, sit by a fountain, and fall asleep on flowerbeds listening to synth-pop.

Kanye West Released a Song About Wanting to Fuck Lil Kim

Kanye – a man who once said his greatest pain in life is that he’ll never get to see himself perform live – is in love with two people: Kim Kardashian and himself. But if you thought that Kim Kardashian was his first love called Kim then you’re wrong. Back when Yeezy was still slugging beats (for free to people like Talib Kweli, no less) he put out a bunch of material – most of which can now be found on the Freshman Adjustment series – including a track called “Dreams of Fuckin’ Lil Kim”.

Drake Used a Bunch of Writers on Take Care

A lot of people use ghost writers – Bugs Bunny enlisted JAY Z for his Space Jam verse, Elvis barely wrote any of his hits, and Courtney Love practically married people to get help writing her albums. But did you know that Drake used a bunch of writers on Take Care? I wanted to highlight this because Drake, perhaps unfairly, gets a lot of stick for the sort of couplets that wouldn’t have made it into my GCSE love poetry anthology (read: incessant text messages to sixteen year olds I was convinced I would marry). This is still up for contention but a “long time lurker / first time commenter” (not a Drake lyric) on the KanyeToThe forum found a name in the Take Care linear notes which is listed as a co-writer on 12 different tracks but not mentioned elsewhere – sampling, production, mixing – suggesting that “A. Palman” helped Drake write most of the record.

Before 8 Mile Eminem Made a Film About a Hip Hop Witch

Da Hip Hop Witch – which stars Ja Rule, Mobb Deep, Vanilla Ice and a bunch of others alongside Eminem – is kinda like the Blair Witch project but featuring worse acting and rappers.

DJ Jazzy Jeff Wrote a Song for The Simpsons

The Simpsons finally put the nail in the coffin when they released a co-branded episode with Lego back in May. But, like everything that has happened in my life, we can always remember the past: when things were good, everything felt exciting, and no one shouted abuse at you for terrible work. It’s common knowledge that Michael Jackson wrote “Do The Bartman” but did you also know that Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince penned a song for The Simpson’s called “Deep, Deep Trouble”?

50 Cent’s Nickname in Queens is Boo Boo

Back before 50 Cent was making a fortune from different coloured water and failing at baseball, he was called Boo Boo. How do we know? Because the track “Curtis 187” – which is about his early life – features the following lyrics: “In four-fifth they call me Boo Boo, the accident baby” “Fuck with me, y'all niggas know Boo Boo get busy” Fiddy changed his name to a currency as a “metaphor for change”. The name was derived from Kelvin Martin, a 1980s Brooklyn robber known as "50 Cent". 50 chose the name "because it says everything I want it to say. I'm the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means"

Action Bronson Can Do Cartwheels

Tom Waits Beatboxed in the Background of An Atmosphere Track

Tom Waits also has a song with Kool Keith. But let’s be honest nothing will ever beat his appearance on Australian television; Tom turned up after seemingly spending a fortnight awake, chain-smoking more cigarettes than a long-haul lorry driver, and decided to ash all over the presenter.

A Reality Show Exists Where White Nerdy Teenagers Were Basically Chained to Wu-Tang’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard For a Week

If you’ve seen Zombieland then you should know who Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are; they produced the whole thing. But before they were making movies with the guy that looks like the guy from Superbad, they were trying to make it in the reality TV world – by producing TV shows that involved contestants chained to celebrities for week-long periods. The original pitch for the show involved handcuffing someone to Mike Tyson but was deemed too controversial – so they shot a new one with Wu Tang Clan’s ODB instead. They picked the whitest guy from Queens and sent him to sleep in Ol Dirty Bastard’s bedroom. The flipside was that Ol Dirty Bastard would visit the white dude in Queens – he ended up going bowling with the contestant’s family. Sadly, the show never aired because Ol’ Dirty Bastard was taken from us too soon.

Tupac is Actually Alive and He Used to be the Goalkeeper for the Ivory Coast

Conspiracy theorist alert!

Asher Roth Used to Babysit Justin Bieber

Well, sort of. Like Kimya Dawson – who "babysat" Moldy Peaches member Adam Green by way of chaperoning him into shows – Asher Roth took Bieber under his wing. Speaking to XXL Magazine he said "When I was in Atlanta – I had moved to Atlanta – Bieber moves down the street from me, and he was 12, 13 at the time,”“He used to just come over and hang out. We used to play Rock Band and chill. I have Bieber rapping on the ‘CANNON!!!’ [from the 2008 mixtape The Greenhouse Effect].” In other family related news: remember that Liam Gallagher's daughter and Pete Doherty's son are half-siblings and the day they form a band the NME will implode.

Die Antwoord Have a Kid Together Called Sixteen

Bowling For Soup’s “1985” is a Cover

Back in the days when the Extreme Sports channel on Sky showed skate videos instead of bull-fighting, there was a band called SR-71. I know this because, maybe the station didn’t have enough skate videos to go round, and they played a music video by the band almost daily. That – or it was a piece of branded content way ahead of time. Anyway SR-71 awrote the original “1985”, it sounds exactly the same as Bowling For Soup’s version, but the latter get all the credit. This also goes for Toploader’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” (a song from the 70s), The Beatles "Twist and Shout", and Madonna’s "Ray of Light" (which is based on a song called "Sepheryn", written by Curtiss Maldoon in the 70s, who only found out Madonna covered it decades later).

Riff Raff is the best music-related thing on Vine

That, and the million Vines Chief Keef has recorded of him squirting people with water pistols. Follow Ryan and Noisey on Twitter.