Fabolous has scored five top 10 singles over the course of his 19-year recording career, none more memorable than the Just Blaze-produced "Breathe," which was released as the first single off the Brooklyn native's third studio album, Real Talk, in 2004 and would eventually peak the following year at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
While all of that is common knowledge or could easily be found by running through Fab's Wikipedia page, what wasn't known before this week is that the original beat that Just Blaze handed over to Fabolous didn't contain a vocal sample with the word "breathe"—that's just what Fab thought it said.
"Truthfully, the sample wasn't saying 'Breathe,' it was saying something else, but I thought it said 'Breathe,'" Fabolous told Desus & Mero. "So I wrote that whole breathing concept and metaphor... and Just [Blaze] changed it. It mighta been saying, "Reach!"
Actually, Fab, the lyric that you thought was "Breathe!" is actually "So roll up and see," sung by Richard Davies, a founding member of the English rock band Supertramp, whose 1974 record "Crime of the Century" was originally sampled by Just Blaze. Davies has an official composer credit on the song, along with Supertramp co-founder Roger Hodgson.
Take a listen (33-second marker):
While Desus and Mero didn't follow-up with any additional questions, based on Fab's explanation and the final version of "Breathe," it's clear that Just Blaze removed the original vocal sample so that the song fit with Fab's whole "Breathe" theme, while retaining a sample from the production itself (2:08 marker).
So, yes, in an alternative hip-hop universe, Fabolous clearly hears the vocal sample as "So roll up and see," not "Breathe!" and instead of writing a song about breathing, he pens a record about... rolling up?