Shirley Bassey was taken a bit by surprise when she discovered rapper Kanye West had sampled “Diamonds Are Forever” in “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”. At least that’s the story according to an uncited 2005 quote from The Daily Mail. To hear the British tabloid tell it, Bassey heard West perform “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” at a Live 8 concert and reacted negatively.
“He didn’t ask my permission to have me singing on his song,” Bassey has been quoted as saying. “I didn’t even hear from his record company, which wasn’t very nice. One way or another, he is going to have to pay me a lot of money.”
The amusing thing here is that the Bassey’s understandable pursuit for financial restitution is over two songs celebrating status symbolism and greed. Doubly amusing is the fact that — back to back — “Sierra Leone” and Forever” serve as bookends on the subject of (blatant) materialism.
In 2005’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” (the album version, specifically), West begrudgingly acknowledges that his diamond-encrusted Jesus chain is likely a product of child labor — intended to fund foreign conflicts.
People askin’ me if I’m gon’ give my chain back
That’ll be the same day I give the game back
In 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever”, Bassey boldly puts her love for the gemstone above all else:
I don’t need love
For what good will love do me?
Diamonds never lie to me
For when love’s gone
They’ll luster on
I believe the Britsh call that sass. And I believe in Kanye West’s hometown of Chicago they call that “Money dancin'”.
My point is that Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever” AND Kanye West’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” are this week’s Motivation Monday. In their own unique way, both songs have a gangster as fuck, self-centeredness that’s completely disinterested in whether you agree with it or not. And, seriously, isn’t disinterest the theme of every Monday?