The Woman Who Put the Soul in “Sanctified”

When you first hear the opening seconds of the song “Sanctified,” by Rick Ross, your instinct might be to give credit to Kanye West, who co-produced it, for finding one of the most breathtaking vocal samples in hip-hop history. Even if you’ve never really listened to old gospel music, the melody seems like a recovered treasure, recorded by a woman with a voice weathered by air that no longer circulates on this earth. None of that is true, though: “Sanctified,” the best track on Ross’s new album, “Mastermind,” and probably the best rap song of the year so far, is not built around a rediscovered sample. Instead, the song owes its existence to a last-minute favor called in to the soul singer Betty Wright, late one night in February, just as Wright was drifting off to sleep in her chair after a long day of vocal coaching…


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