In 2002, Maroon 5 (formerly Kara's Flowers) released their breakthrough album Songs About Jane- a rock album themed around frontman Adam Levine's former girlfriend Jane. In 2006, CunninLynguists released their breakthrough album A Piece Of Strange- a hip hop album themed around the descent into sin and its consequences. I think. I haven't listened to it all that much yet. In fact, my first listen through was less than 4 days ago. But I have reason enough to believe that A Piece of Strange is a sequel to Songs About Jane.
So how is this even possible? How can we assume CunninLynguists have even heard Songs About Jane?
I can't assume they have. I don't know them. I am not super familiar with the group. So why do I think they've even heard Songs About Jane? Degrees of separation.
Maroon 5 and CunninLynguists both know one very important person in our culture- Kanye West.
Maroon 5 has worked with Kanye West on at least 2 occasions that I know of. First, Kanye West made a remix of the song This Love from Songs About Jane. Second, Adam Levine was featured on the Kanye West song Heard Em Say from Late Registration in 2005.
CunninLynguists have opened for Kanye West on certain concert dates, although I cannot find much information on these shows.
If they both know Kanye West, is it safe to assume that they may know each other? They very well could. Especially when taking into consideration the fact that touring musicians often travel the world and collaborate with each other, Maroon 5 and CunninLynguists may very well know each other. Even if they don't, CunninLynguists can still be inspired by Songs About Jane just as I am.
The time frame is perfect. Songs About Jane was released in 2002, but it didn't start getting popular until late 2003, 2004. This was right after A Piece of Strange's predecessor SouthernUnderground released in April 2003. Songs About Jane was growing in popularity, Maroon 5 was touring, Maroon 5 was working with Kanye West, and a true followup to Songs About Jane had not been created yet. Wouldn't it make sense for CunninLynguists to take inspiration from this new album that's super good and super popular? NOT TO SAY THAT THEY ARE TREND CHASERS, but I would take inspiration from Songs About Jane had I been in their shoes. It makes sense to me.
"Okay you dumb fool, knowing Kanye in some way and releasing an album in 2006 doesn't automatically mean that your record is automatically a sequel to Songs About Jane. They aren't even the same genre of music. You dumb fool. You rat bazlor. Use common sense," you may be saying to yourself. If that were true, Hip Hop is Dead would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. Food and Liquor would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. Kingdom Come would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. A Girl Like Me would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. Everything would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. And that's just absurd. But so far, we have only discussed the context surrounding the record. Now I will dive into the context of the record itself. First of all, look at the cover art for both of these releases.
|Songs About Jane (2002)
|A Piece of Strange (2006)
They look mighty similar, innit? Both feature a naked young woman on the left, both covering up the dirty bits discretely, both with red hair adorned with flowers, both of them holding something red. To the right, the title of the artist and album at the top with an intricate background. That's a lot of similarities, right? I think the red apple was inside the box. But maybe the cover itself is just a reference. The music itself doesn't really talk about Jane in any way.... Except it does.
The album's most popular song, Beautiful Girl, is often regarded as one of the best uses of sampling of the 2000s. The bars throughout the song use a lot of double entendres, taken literally as a woman in one context, or in another taken figuratively as marijuana. What name is used for this?
Checkmate, liberals. This is 100% undeniable proof that CunninLynguists were inspired by Songs About Jane while working on A Piece of Strange. Between the cover art, the lyrics, the era, and their contacts, it is all too much to be a coincidence. Even if Kno comes out and says "I have never heard of Songs About Jane in my entire life and you guys are delusional," I won't believe him. Somebody knew what was up. Somebody knew what they were doing. Somebody was making a sequel to Songs About Jane. Knowing how It Won't Be Soon Before Long ended up for Maroon 5 and company, the true sequel to Songs About Jane is a fantastic album by CunninLynguists titled A Piece of Strange. I highly recommend both records to anyone who likes music. They are different, but in some ways the exact same. And I love them both.