By 1983, the Isley Brothers had been on a somewhat downward slide down the charts during the early eighties. Facing decline wasn't new for the brothers, who had bounced back from declines throughout their career to find success.
Around this time, the band had been going through a difficult phase with its 3 + 3 lineup: older brothers O'Kelly, Rudolph and lead singer Ronald argued with younger brothers Ernie and Marvin and brother-in-law Chris Jasper over the group's direction. The rift wasn't made any easier by Jasper's desire to record his own lead vocals for the group's songs, which longtime lead Ronald refused to allow.
Finally, after the release of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing", the Isleys found their next hint of inspiration. Recorded at Bearsville studios, "Between the Sheets" was drastically different from other Isley records for its stripped down synthesizer solos and simple handclaps.
Sharing credit with all six band mates, "Between the Sheets" was recorded in February 1983 and charted that April. The song made a huge impression on the Isleys' long legion of R&B fans who took the song to number three on the Billboard Top R&B Singles chart while it peaked at number one on Billboard's Bubbling Under chart. The song's R&B success helped their Between the Sheets album go platinum, the brothers' first platinum album since 1978's Showdown.
Despite the success, it was already confirmed even before the album's release that the younger Isleys and Jasper would be leaving the older Isleys for their own group and within a year after their final tour together, Ernie, Marvin and Chris did leave to form Isley-Jasper-Isley leaving the Isley Brothers back to their original position as a vocal trio. But "Sheets" helped the group earn new credibility in the industry and assured their legendary status.
The song would be heavily sampled in the years to come by hip-hop artists such as Andre Nickatina, Common, Da Brat, The Notorious B.I.G., Jim Jones, UGK, Drake, as well as freestyled over by Lupe Fiasco. Most recently, it was used by Jay-Z in a track, "Ignorant Shit", on his recent album American Gangster (though the original was a track that didn't make the final cut for The Black Album). The beat for "Ignorant Shit", created by Just Blaze, sampled "Between the Sheets". Rappers Drake and Lil Wayne recorded a version of "Ignorant Shit" for Drake's 2009 mixtape So Far Gone with them rapping over the Just Blaze beat. The song, "A Night Off" (Drake featuring Lloyd), produced by Noah "40" Shebib, that directly follows "Ignorant Shit" on the mixtape, also samples "Between the Sheets". LL Cool J mentioned the song and the Isleys on his song "Back Seat".
Artists outside the hip-hop genre have also sampled the song including Gwen Stefani, who sampled the song for her single, "Luxurious", which she also did a remix with Slim Thug and R & B singer Whitney Houston's 2002 single, "One of Those Days" uses lyrical elements and she also mentions the Isley Brothers and in the beginning of the track can be heard humming the intro to the group's cover of Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me". Jazz band Fourplay recorded a hit cover version of the song in 1992 with Chaka Khan as the vocalist.
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