Steve Stoute Looks To Beyonce For Inspiration

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As part of Tell Me More's occasional series 'In Your Ear,' author Steve Stoute describes the music that has left a memorable mark on his mind. He talks about the songs, 'Otis' by Kanye West and Jay-Z, and 'Best Thing I Never Had' by Beyonce. Stoute is the author of 'The Tanning of America,' a book about the intersection of hip hop and big business.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now it's time for the occasional feature we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask some of our guests about the music they're listening to these days. Today we'll hear from author Steve Stoute. He's the author of "The Tanning of America," a book about the intersection of hip-hop and big business. And that might give you a hint about the music that inspires him.

STEVE STOUTE: Hi, this is Steve Stoute, author of "Tanning of America." the song in listening to right now is "Otis," by Jay-Z and Kanye West.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OTIS")

JAY-Z: (Rapping) Poppin' bottles, puttin' supermodels in the cab, proof. I guess I got my swagger back, truth New watch alert, Hublot's or the big face Rollie, I got two of those. Arm out the window through the city I maneuver slow...

STOUTE: The reason why I like this song is I was actually - I was fortunate enough to be in the studio when they were making it. And I actually heard Kanye take the Otis Redding sample, which is a beautiful song, and turn that sample into the record that it is on their watch (unintelligible).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OTIS")

STOUTE: When you get a chance to see that creative process go down, it leaves a lasting mark. So every time I listen to that song there's a memory attached to it that makes it, you know, memorable to me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OTIS")

JAY-Z: (Rapping) Welcome to Havana. Smoking cubanos with Castro in cabanas. Viva Mexico, Cubano Dominicano, all the plugs that I know...

STOUTE: Another song I'm listening to right now, it's a great song, is the Beyonce song the "Best Thing I Never Had."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEST THING I NEVER HAD")

BEYONCE KNOWLES: (Singing) There was a time I thought, that you did everything right.

STOUTE: And I just think the song is well written. I think that we all have that moment in our life where we quote/unquote, "dodge the bullet." That's what that song reminds me of, because I have moments like that where I thought I wanted something really bad, only to find out when I look back on it, that it wasn't the thing that I should have had.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEST THING I NEVER HAD")

KNOWLES: (Singing) Thank God you blew it. Thank God I dodged the bullet. I'm so over you, so baby good lookin' out. I wanted you bad, I'm so through with it, 'Cause honestly you turned out to be the best thing I never had. You turned out to be the best thing I never had.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK")

STING: (Singing) I don't drink coffee I take tea my dear...

STOUTE: The third song I'm listening to that I love is, I love Sting.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK")

STING: (Singing) Oh-oh, I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien. I'm an Englishman in New York. Oh-oh, I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien.

STOUTE: Sometimes I feel like that at times, that I see the world one way and people look at me differently. And, you know, I realize, I come to realize that any time you have a great idea that you're passionate about, you can pretty much know that it's going to be a great idea when most people don't get it immediately.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK")

STING: (Singing) It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile. Be yourself no matter what they say.

MARTIN: That was author Steve Stoute telling us what's in his ear, including the song we're hearing now. It's Sting's "Englishman In New York."

And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK")

STING: (Singing) I'm a legal alien. I'm an Englishman in New York. Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety. You could end up as the only one. Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society. At night a candle's brighter than the sun.

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