R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe spoke to NME recently and had some very nice things to say about Jay-Z, who of course repurposed some R.E.M. lyrics on Magna Carta Holy Grail. Stipe revealed he was thrilled that the rapper referenced “Losing My Religion” on the album. “I’ve known Jay for a long time, he’s super cool, super grounded, super smart and super talented,” Stipe said. “I’ve always had the deepest respect for him, and his music and choices. We’re thrilled [for our lyrics] to be included, it’s a really great honor.” (Side note: Is there ANYONE in music Jay isn’t friends with?!)
On MCHG song “Heaven,” Jay raps “That’s me in the corner / That’s me in the spotlight / Losing my religion,” which is the chorus from R.E.M.’s iconic 1991 smash “Losing My Religion.” Hov also interpolates Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on “Holy Grail.” Coincidentally, both of those ’90s-mining tracks feature Justin Timberlake.
As for the Nirvana usage, Kurt Cobain‘s widow, Courtney Love, initially didn’t sign off on it, but ultimately gave Jay-Z her blessing to include it.