While Reed’s fanbase was largely white, his classic hit song “Walk on the Wild Side” did cross over to audiences of all kinds.
The subtley salacious song (complete with a dated chorus referencing “colored girls”) is an ode to transexuality, prostitution and oral sex. But it’s undeniably catchy hook and opening riff made it an unlikely popular success.
Its bass line became the backbone to hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest’s classic song “Can I Kick It?”
Unfortunately the relationship between the late rocker and the hip-hop collective was less than amiable.
Back in 2011, Quest member Phife Dawg claimed that Reed was the only one profiting from the success of the “Can I Kick It?” sample.
“That was on our first album [People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm] and the sample is Lou Reed. F**k Lou Reed, man! F**k him. Because we didn’t see no money from that f**kin’ record yet. Really. Here’s what happened – and I take back saying ‘F**k Lou Reed,’ because Lou Reed has every right to say ‘Give me my motherf**king money,’” he told an audience in the UK. “So Lou Reed could have easily said, ‘Oh yeah, a rap group use my sh*t? Alright.’ No. Anita Baker don’t let nobody use her sh*t, period. […] So Lou Reed, instead of saying no altogether, he was like, ‘Yeah, nice! Give me the motherf**king money.’ Like Smokey in Friday.”