I don't know if it's a good or a bad sign, but I always hear new Kardinal Offishall singles coming out of that 21st-century ghetto blaster, the immigrant-kids' cell phone. Anyway, the other day someone was playing this new single:
Kardinal Offishall - Numba 1 "Tide Is High" (Feat. Keri Hilson)
A decent track on a slowed-down version of the Timeline riddim, which works surprisingly well in a hip-hop (maybe even crunk?) context. For some reason he's recorded separate versions of the track with Rihanna and with The Pussycat Dolls, too - with possibly the last being the best, they're largely interchangeable.
But what I want to talk about, really, is it's relationship to the original. Or maybe it's originals? The guy who posted the Pussycat Dolls version claims the "Original Version [was] Done by Atomic Kitten and/or Blondie", and that's two possible originals. And then, obviously, there's the original, which as you all probably know was done by The Paragons back in 1967. Making three originals.
Who is Kardinal Offishall covering?
I'd be surprised if he hadn't heard the original, considering his Jamaican background and the bit at the end of the video on the My Conversation riddim, which is another Rocksteady classic. The producers, too, would have been familiar with it. And yet... Compare the female vocals of the above track to the horrendous cod-exotica version Blondie recorded in 1980. Obviously, the female singers (all three of them) have accepted Debbie Harry's modifications to the melody, following the backing vocals rather than the lead in the chorus and having a short, unstressed "who" in "I'm not the kind of girl/who..." rather than John Holt's long, stressed syllable.
On the other hand, they could be covering Atomic Kitten's smoothed-over hit version, which is another cover of the blondie cover, but there's no evidence to support this - none of the additions Atomic Kitten have included are in these versions. In fact, the vocals here are more clipped and more solo than blondie's, in other words moving in the opposite direction.
So it's essentially a cover of a cover. Surely. The only question mark is over Rhianna's version, in my mind. Somewhere, perhaps where she emphasises that "who", she's indicating a possible knowledge of the source material...