You don’t need me to tell you that The Beatles are the most influential group of all time, you know that anyway. Every music fan on the planet knows how the four lads from Liverpool overtly influenced every guitar band that’s existed in their wake. With that in mind, we look beyond rock music to explore how the Fab Four traverse genres in their influence of hip-hop pioneer El-P.
El-P – real name Jaime Meline – is more than just one-half of Run The Jewels. Whilst his supergroup with Killer Mike is what Meline is best known for, his story before the duo is equally fascinating. El was one of the most acclaimed indie rappers of the 2000s, as well as a sought after producer who brought an expansive musical pallet into his work and made him stand out as a true originator.
His musical journey began in 1992 with Brooklyn hip-hop trio Company Flow, who released three albums before calling it a day on amicable terms in 2001. The following year El-P started to make a name for himself as both a killer producer and rapper after he released his debut solo album Fantastic Damage. The record was the recipient of wide critical acclaim, and it was clear he was from your typical hip-hop artist.
Since forming Run The Jewels, EL-P’s talents have been exposed to a broader audience, and his stock has never been higher. Although hip-hop is his bread and butter, Meline has also worked with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, produced the soundtrack for the 2020 biopic Capone, and an unashamed Beatles connoisseur.
Speaking to NME a couple of years back, Meline lifted the lid on why ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ is his favourite song by The Fab Four. “It’s always been my favourite Beatles song. It’s sexual and heavy and dark and loving,” he commented. “The riff is just something else. As a musician it’s one of those pillars that you study. As a producer you have to know it inside and out, because they broke ground with it in terms of the rhythm.”
‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ is a simple rock and roll song with a lustful message that carries it. Lennon only uses 14 words across the track, which provide the overall number with a sense of hypnotism. The basic lyrics work as the perfect foil for the track’s explosive riff, amplifying Lennon’s obsessive love for Yoko Ono.
“‘She’s So Heavy’ was about Yoko,” Lennon explained in 1970. “When it gets down to it, like she said, when you’re drowning you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream. And in ‘She’s So Heavy’ I just sang ‘I want you, I want you so bad, she’s so heavy, I want you,’ like that.”
The Beatles’ high-octane riff on the track is akin to a sample El-P would deploy with Run The Jewels. Even though the similarities between the groups are thin, it’s easy to understand how the rapper is so fond of ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’.