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MNEK Talks Sampling Ultra Naté's 'Free' in New Single 'Paradise'

MNEK
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MNEK attends the What We Wear show during London Fashion Week Men's January 2017 collections at on Jan. 7, 2017 in London, England.

MNEK may be best known for a collaboration with Zara Larsson, “Never Forget You,” which peaked at No. 13 on the Hot 100. But the British singer is an accomplished producer as well, boasting credits on Beyonce’s Lemonade and Madonna’s Rebel Heart, to name a few.

The musician’s latest single “Paradise” is a testament to his talent, showcasing his silky falsetto over slick production. The track also features a notable sample; the memorable guitar riff from Ultra Naté’s two-decades-old hit “Free,” which topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart in 1997.

“When I wrote “Paradise,” it was going to be an interlude -- like a segue from the song before. Then I just added more to it because everyone loved it,” says MNEK. “I added [the “Free” sample] in there while I was writing it because it was in the same key-ish.”

MNEK also shares with Billboard that he got the blessing for the sample from Lem Springsteen, one of the song’s co-writers: “I got to talk to him and sort of ask how he left about it -- and he loved it, so I had his blessing, which is cool.”

“Paradise” also has a similar theme to Ultra Naté's club anthem. “The song talks about how it’s a dark time for everyone right now as far as just trying to live, especially people on the outside -- the “other,” like gay people, people of color. It’s tough,” MNEK says. ”This song kind of talks about escaping. Everyone wishes for the best, but sometimes that isn’t the reality. All you know is to run away to paradise.”

Check out "Paradise" -- and the song it samples -- below:

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