Who Big Boi Really Samples in "General Patton"

by Seth Colter Walls


For real, keeping up with Big Boi has been a challenge of late. When he’s not giving us previews from his new, official product coming out next month, he’s going straight samizdat with the Andre 3000 collabos that Jive records won’t allow anyone to pay actual money for. Lost in the general haze of sturm und purp, though, was this weird little question that got my music-geek dander up. When “General Patton” hit, 72 internet news cycles ago, initial writeups gave credit for that fat chorus-and-orchestra sample to… an opera “by Georg Solti”? The conductor? Who never actually wrote any music? No. That didn’t sound cricket.

I spent some time crate-digging through my (limited) Georg Solti-conducted music collection, and came up with zilch. That’s because I don’t own much by Giuseppe Verdi, from whose pen the music for “General Patton” originates. Specifically, from “Vieni, o guerriero vindice,” in Act II of Aida. (Here’s a lo-bit, longer clip of the music in question.) This number comes right after Aida’s big-deal “triumphal march,” which makes a certain kind of sense if you think about it. Big Boi’s songs often kick off as though they’re coming on the heels of a great victory. And a Def Jam source confirms that the sample in “General Patton” does come from Solti’s 1962 recording of the Verdi opera. So, consider that one terribly small-bore musical mystery solved.

Oh, you want to know why Big Boi and co-producer J Beatz chose the 1962 Georg Solti recording of Aida in particular? (Since there are nearly a hundred versions to choose from?) Can’t say for sure, but maybe it’s because Solti was also a Wagnerian, with a rep for bringing that kind of thump to his Verdi conducting. I mean: heavy is heavy, and it speaks across genre.

Seth Colter Walls has a day job.