Tuesday, September 21, 2004
In Breihan's review of "Let Me In" last week1, he touched on a point that Harvell made a while back about all the 'cold'-sounding hits on the radio over the summer. For one, I thought his counterexamples are weird: "No Problem"2 and "Let Me In"3, which I always thought of as being on the more gothic end of what's on the radio right now. Admittedly, that spectrum is probably further in the cold/dark direction than it's been in at least a while. But "Lean Back" isn't even as 'dark' or unlikely a hit as it gets made out to be. I mean, people didn't really seem to bat an eye when "Never Scared" was huge last year and that's a lot more overtly grim than most of the big crunk hits since then.
And anyway, I'm not complaining, because mainstream rap is always going to be exciting to me in a way the underground can't be4, and I'd prefer if the pop stuff gets a little grimey for good measure. A little part of me can't help but applaud any time someone in the game has the balls to push anything a little raw into heavy rotation, whether I like it or not. I mean it's pretty cool that Fabolous picked "Breathe" for his first single5, considering most of his big hits have soft drums and sung hooks. Ethan is right that Fab's got great lyrics whether he's doing pop shit or street shit, and he shouldn't have to do boring hard NYC style tracks to get respect, but radio has enough girlie rap songs with daisy beats, so I don't mind if the some of the already-platinum dudes try to balance it out with the street cred grab.
1 As a rule, if I'm picking nits over a Pitchfork review, it's probably just to be mean, but if it's Tom, then understand it's done with the intention of respectful discourse.
2 I like "No Problem" a lot less since I realized how much it sounds like Jay-Z's "Show You How".
3 I think I have an aversion to rap beats with slightly offbeat cowbell parts, I might like "Let Me In" and "Friday Night" without them, but as is they both get on my fucking nerves.
4 And vice versa, but that's in a completely different way.
5 When he first upgraded it from a teaser to the official single, I was skeptical, because when a song gets promoted from street single to radio single like that, it's usually either that the song got such an overwhelming public demand that they had no choice, or that they didn't end up with any really radio-friendly pop joints, and I figured it was the former because I wasn't really wild about "Breathe" at first, but that shit has grown on me big time.