Cardi B’s “I Like It” might be storming the charts and vying for 2018 Song of Summer rights, but Pete Rodriguez — singer of 1967’s “I Like it Like That” — didn’t even know the chorus of his hit track had been sampled by the Bronx rapper until his family told him.
“My kids and grandkids called me and texted me about it,” Rodriguez, 86, tells EW. “We recorded [the original] in 1967, so it’s come a long way.”
While grateful to Cardi for the renewed interest in his song, Rodriguez was not familiar with her or her music beforehand. “I wasn’t aware of Cardi, but my kids and grandkids were,” he says. “They were all excited; they’re fans.” And Rodriguez is set to become a Cardi convert too. “I’ve been out of the loop for a while, but I’ve watched some of her videos now and my favorite is definitely ‘I Like It.'”
Rodriguez’s version, written by Tony Pabon and Manny Rodriguez, has proved it can withstand the test of time. Released in 1967 on Bronx-based Alegre Records, the infectious boogaloo hit remains Rodriguez’s most acclaimed song to date. In 1994 it made a comeback when the Blackout All-Stars recorded a cover with the title abbreviated to “I Like It,” for the comedy-drama film I Like It Like That. Then, in 1996, the group’s cover drew new breath when it was used in a Burger King commercial. That version of the song subsequently rose to No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Now, thanks to Cardi B’s bright and buoyant version — which debuted at No. 8 on the Hot 100, before reaching the top spot twelve weeks later — the original has seen an astronomical 2,520 percent gain in streams.
RELATED: The 21 best songs of summer
Though the original success of “I Like It Like That” didn’t surprise Rodriguez, who fondly remembers arriving at an airport in Puerto Rico to crowds of fans singing the lyrics at him, the recent resurgence and the song’s staying power has taken him a second to wrap his mind around. “We had such a blast at the recording studio with it,” he says. “We had a party and knew it was going to be big at that time, but this? This is crazy. I never thought it was going to last for 50 years.”
So does Rodriguez think Cardi B’s take deserves the official “Song of the Summer” crown for 2018? “It’s certainly my song of the summer.”