It is hardly commonplace for hip-hop and rock to become bonded bedfellows. And it takes a crafty vision to mesh the disparate musical species in a way that begets fire and ice in a single song.
“Under the Bridge,” the 1992 global hit from Red Hot Chili Peppers, is a moody, potent exposè about alienation, despondency and the search for one’s truth. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis penned the platinum-selling song as he found redemption on the other side of addiction. Who can forget the indelible chorus: “I don’t ever want to feel, like I did that day/Take me to the place I love, take me all the way.”
Now press reset. Imagine the enduring song with commanding lyrical verses—cogent and again charged with strife—accompanied by the Chili Peppers’ chorus loaded with 8-cylinder gusto via a flaming, fierce female vocal. Meet Chino XL and Rama Duke, both partnering with independent music label 1520 Entertainment. “Under the Bridge” is, in fact, the launch single for the company, which aims to release a new single from its eclectic roster each month throughout 2017.
“We hope that our hybrid version of ‘Under the Bridge’ might save some lives and inspire a new generation,” says Jared Lee Gosselin, Partner of 1520 and producer of the track. His pedigree includes production credits for Velvet Revolver, Serj Tankian, DMC, Macy Gray, India.Arie, KRS-One and Musiq Soulchild. In 2013, Gosselin was awarded a Latin Grammy for Beto Cuevas’ album “Transformacion.”
In fact, because of the unsettling theme of “Under the Bridge,” 1520 is working to make its mark on local communities. The label is contributing a portion of the song’s revenues to the California-based Action Family Foundation, which works with youth and their families to resolve issues related to drugs, alcohol, sex and gangs.
The inspiration for this modern version of “Under the Bridge” was first inspired after Gosselin worked with Rama when she was signed to Hollywood Records for a multi-album deal in the early part of the millennium. “So passionate, such a unique tone and super talented,” he says of the raucous vocalist. “Truly one of the most gifted singers I have worked with.” Rama was working on a rock album and in the studio with a band covering “Under the Bridge” live, with a full-on grinding, grimacing rock vibe. It was never released.
Meanwhile, Gosselin and Chino XL had forged a years-long fruitful relationship. The latter was discovered and pacted at age 16 by Grammy-winning legend Rick Rubin and released several MTV staple singles, while also working as an actor in TV and films and collaborating with the likes of Travis Barker, J Dilla, Immortal Technique, Snoop Dogg, Tech N9ne, Cypress Hill and Proof (D12).
Gosselin says, “He is one of the top lyricists I have ever worked with. His writing and flow are something that few can accomplish.” As the pair developed new material, the producer had an epiphany. “It just kind of hit me in the studio with Chino. What an amazing remix this could be. Rama has already given it rebirth; now if I could find a way to discover a way that would fit Chino’s lyrical style.”
In fact, the three have forged such a creative kinship that they are discussing integrating their talents into a 1520 trio partnership called “A Bad Day For Sorry.” Stayed tuned for that.
Meanwhile, in the refashioned “Under the Bridge,” Chino offers a cautionary tale about addiction: “I’m the rose petal that fell from its pedestal, unbearable God witnesses the frozen princesses couldn’t let it go/The interruption of a king, my slim heroine’s grin taught me that I had even more to lose than everything.” Follow that with Rama’s hair-raising roar of the chorus.
Add to the song’s potency the fact that this is no off-hand interpretation. Both artists infuse the production with their own life lessons. Rama says, “I was a pretty angry child who moved all over the place, always wearing headphones and listening to music that came out raw where the singer wasn’t afraid to say what they felt. I understand the struggle and I think that is part of everything I sing.”
Adds Chino, “My history is similar, so for me, the song is about overcoming a less than perfect childhood, and the struggles of youth. So I relate to a message about survival, of never bowing down as you work to overcome whatever the darkness brings.” Add to that the clever—if harrowing—metaphor he brings out in the lyric, referring to heroin as a one-time heroine.
“I wanted 1520 Entertainment to come out of the gate at a gallop, not a trot,” Gosselin says. “I’d like to believe that our version of ‘Under the Bridge’ will not only be a defining moment for the label, but for pop culture as well.”
“Under the Bridge” has been released to all major digital download sites, and was released to CHR and Urban radio stations on March 06, 2017.