Monday, December 1, 2014

Song of the Day #100 - Young Thug - The Blanguage (Celebrating 100 Songs of the Day!!)

Wow 100 songs of the day!!

To celebrate, here is what I think has to be my favorite song of 2014. This changed everything for me. This made me realize that, all along, everything I thought I liked about hip hop was a little bit off. It wasn't about being meaningful. It wasn't about being clever or funny. It wasn't about lyrics at all. And it wasn't about flow, or technicality, or rhyme density, or alliteration or any other technical metric. It wasn't even about the beat. I don't know exactly what's left, but it's here.

I think the first thing to realize is that it starts with just Metro Boomin's production tag, which is sampled from another Metro x Thug song, "Some More". But with the chopping and stuff, it completely changes context... In "Some More", it's a pretty aggressive declaration... but here, it's like... I have no idea. It feels like Young Thug riffing a bit to get himself on beat, but it's just a sample. And it sounds so cool, way cooler than you're used to thinking producer tags should sound, but then you realize... it doesn't matter.

And when he comes in on the verse with "Look, look"... I think I could spend hours just breaking down how the rhythm of that works, how he anticipates the beat a little... and then the first line: "I fucked her than wiped off my dick on the curtains inside of the Phantom". Like... it's in triplets, I get that, but something else is going on here... there's a certain quality of athleticism, a certain sort of kinetic energy, it feels more like a combo in a fighting game or full fantastic comboing a burst in ITG. He keeps up this type of flow, that really sounds impossibly good, sounds like he's "getting away" with something, but then he switches it up with lines where he keeps the same rhythm and cadence, but goes at half speed? Like, can someone actually explain to me how he's rapping here? Explain it simply, as if to a child. And use math or something, if possible. It just doesn't add up to me.

Okay, so the flow is completely unfathomable. But what about the lyrics? Well, it's Young Thug, so I don't think I have to tell you that I have absolutely no idea what's going on. With Thugger it's never totally incomprehensible, but almost every line leaves me with a few questions. Like take "I'm on the outskirts, chasing on green, smoking orange kush, feeling like a cantaloupe". Okay I get it, that's an awesome line, very clever, but like... does he actually feel like a cantaloupe? I think he does. But I don't know what that feels like. Conversely, when he says "A young nigga came a long way from standin on the corner with them pistols" or "The devil done caught my soul"... I feel like I know exactly how that feels. I don't, but I feel like I do, and I don't know why. So even in understanding there is a mystery.

And man, when the beat breaks down at 2:30, with that piano... something truly magical is happening. It's the same lines as the first time, but they feel completely different on this new beat. It's taken further at 3:20, when he brings back in the producer tag... this is a complete acknowledgement of meaning being superseded by sound. The producer tag means nothing here whatsoever. It just sounds good.

Oh man there's so much more I want to talk about here: the lineage of the Drake track, the meaning (or lack of meaning) of each and every line, the prevailing attitude of the song... someday I dream of being the person who has written the most about Young Thug. I might be like top 5 already. Anyways cause it's number 100 we're gonna do

Pointless retrospectives about Song of the Day!!

First let's look at some STATS:

People rapping: 58%
Mostly synths, no rapping: 23%
Mostly instruments, no rapping: 19%

Country of Origin
America: 73%
Japan: 13%
Canada: 6%
Germany: 2%
United Kingdom: 2%
Sweden: 1%
Hungary: 1%

(Hmm... I should have done state too, or something. That's too much effort, though)

Year of Release
2014: 44
2013: 13
2012: 4
2011: 7
2010: 5
2009: 1
2008: 2
2007: 2
2006: 4
2005: 4
2004: 3
2003: 2
2002: 1
2000: 1
1999: 3
1996: 2
1994: 1
1975: 1
1970: 1

< 1 min: 1 (Kanye West leaked snippets)
1 min - 2 min: 1
2 min - 3 min: 9
3 min - 4 min: 26
4 min - 5 min: 33
5 min - 6 min: 13
6 min - 7 min: 6
7 min - 8 min: 2
8 min - 9 min: 4
> 36 min: 1 (Shlohmo DJ set)

Total length: 7:58:41
Average length: 4.78 minutes

Artists (including featured, so it'll end up >100)
Young Thug - 12
Rich Homie Quan - 8
Kanye West - 6
Schoolboy Q - 4
Future - 4
Death from Above 1979 - 3
Ab-Soul - 3
Waka Flocka Flame - 3
Lil Jon - 3
Juicy J - 3
2 Chainz - 3
Lil B - 2
Big Sean - 2
T.I. - 2
Sun Kil Moon - 2
Migos - 2
Domo Genesis - 2
Gucci Mane - 2
10th Ward Buck - 2
Shlohmo - 2
DJ Snake - 2
Freddie Gibbs - 2
Pusha T - 2
Riff Raff - 2
A$AP Ferg - 1
Shabba Ranks - 1
Busta Rhymes - 1
Giga & Reol - 1
YG - 1
Jay Rock - 1
French Montana - 1
Madlib - 1
Earl Sweatshirt - 1
DJ Sharpnel - 1
Kid Cudi - 1
Sufjan Stevens - 1
Pharrell - 1
Casino - 1
TLC - 1
Shabazz Palaces - 1
Yung Lean - 1
Beyonce - 1
Jay Z - 2
Kendrick Lamar - 1
The World's Freshest - 1
Yukmouth - 1
Trae tha Truth - 1
Andre 3000 - 1
Pimp C - 1
Mike Jones - 1
Bun B - 1
YG Hootie - 1
Popa Smurf - 1
Slim Dunkin - 1
葉月悠 - 1
Number Girl - 1
Action Bronson - 1
Asaad - 1
A$AP Rocky - 1
Vig Mihály  - 1
Jermaine Dupri - 1
Masaya Kuzume - 1
Drake - 1
LSD and the Search for God - 1
American Football - 1
Captain Jack - 1
Joanna Newsom - 1
mum - 1
Exit Tunes - 1
Maki - 1
Flosstradamus - 1
Raccoo-oo-oon - 1
Panda Bear - 1
Hirano Aya et al - 1
Trick Daddy - 1
Twista - 1
SZA - 1
18+ - 1
C Powers - 1
DJ Shadow - 1
ゆうゆ - 1
Wiz Khalifa - 1
Project Pat - 1
Harmonium - 1
Kyoko Narumi - 1
Sunny Hill - 1
Neil Young - 1
Z-Ro - 1
Maceo - 1
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - 1
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - 1
world's end girlfriend - 1
Venetian Snares - 1
Tatsh - 1
Birdman - 1
Sibylle Baier - 1
E-40 - 1
Azealia Banks - 1
Big Boi - 1
Akamushi - 1
Aphex Twin - 1
Eminem - 1
Royce da 5'9" - 1
Danny Brown - 1
Dej Loaf - 1
Tricky Tricky - 1
OG Boo Dirty - 1
Heavy - 1
Fugees - 1
5th Ward Weebie - 1
Run the Jewels - 1
Radiohead - 1

Days since I started Song of the Day: 245
% of days that I did Song of the Day: 40.82%

Total length of all posts: 22531 words
Average length of all posts: 225.31 words

Um okay that's it for stats maybe. Now AWARDS:

Longest song (not including the Shlohmo DJ set): Sun Kil Moon - The Possum
It's too bad my writeup of this song got truncated, because I have a lot to say about it. But also: what's the point? Like any Sun Kil Moon song, all you need to do is listen closely to the lyrics and picture what he's saying in your mind. And then let the transition at 3:20 wash over you like a little wave while wading in warm water.

Shortest song (not including the mysterious Kanye West leaked snippets): Domo Genesis - SS4
Great beat, flow, subject matter... this needs an extended remix ASAP. I can think of whole lists of rappers I'd love to hear on here. Somehow he manages two verses and a hook in under two minutes, plus the requisite smoking samples. It's so tight, and yet it has all the relaxation of a song twice its length.

Longest writeup (not including this one): Death from Above 1979 - The Physical World
And even with all that, I still think there's a very mysterious quality to this song that I haven't even come close to expressing in words. Something about the "riff" on the synth, how it jumps up at the end... or maybe something to do with how suddenly it ends, but the haunting feeling of the tape-crackle part hasn't faded...

Shortest writeup: Rich Gang - Flava
I think I was mainly excited to just post that "real" album art. And I mean, what more needs to be said beyond "Banger of the Year"?

Most popular writeup: Rich Gang - "Bullet"
This one was a blowout... cause it got linked to on Rapgenius, it was viewed 99 times! Wow!! Could be a hundred any day now!! The whole sequence of events made me pretty happy, but not as much as the song's opening line.

Best song title: mum - Will the Summer Make Good for All Our Sins?
To me, this title is like... the feeling of pushing all responsibilities, all guilt, all adversary... even good things, like, relaxation and indulgence... pushing all of it towards some vaguely-defined long period of "free time" in the foreseeable future. And then that slight doubt - will the summer really be enough?

Most HYPE song: DJ Sharpnel - Marunouchi Survivor
Somehow this beat TWO remixes of "Turn Down for What". Well, it isn't "somehow", really, it's exactly like this: the first time they do the chorus, there's the "Peww! Ron! Rah-tah-tah-tah-tah!" part, or whatever they're saying, and it's probably the most denpa-moe thing imaginable. And then the second time, the beat in the back goes into a halftime triumphant march thing, and it feels like you're beating every video game at once. This makes me NEED to play rhythm action games, with a desire that far outpaces my skill.

Best verse: T.I.'s verse on I Need War
Sometimes people use the term "snaps", like, "Damn, [rapper name] snaps on this!". If you don't know what that means, here is T.I. snapping for like a minute straight. This is what happens when a Southern legend gets hold of that new Atlanta flow and goes in on it. So yeah I still give Young Thug most of the honors for this verse, lol. Honorable mentions are like... All of Mo City Don, Ferg on the Shabba Remix, Kendrick on Collard Greens, Jay Z on Pound Cake, Popa Smurf on Karma, Riff Raff on Ballin' Outta Control...

Best sample: the crow on 18+ - Crow
It's a simple idea implemented in the most simple way, but they knew it was so good that they made it the title. On tracks like this you rethink a little the idea of what music can be, even if you feel like you already thought about that a whole lot.

Best hook: Future - Benz Friendz

Best beat: Young Thug - The Blanguage
That is, uh, the song we were talking about earlier.

Song I most want a stepchart of: "Menimeni Manimani"
Oh my god this would be so fun that I almost don't want to picture it. It would be like a 14 and I could barely pass it if I'm lucky.

Best emotional moment (despair [crippling]): The "I used to understand happy" part of "Kétsarkü Mozgalom" by Venetian Snares
@3:20, just let the idea settle in. When she says "I don't remember", it feels like part of my lung is crushed, every time...

Best emotional moment (despair [churning]): Near the end of "Black" by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
"Now black and I, we are together", and it sounds like he's gonna cry, and then you wanna cry too. If you aren't haunted by something, this is how it starts.

Best emotional moment (despair [insane]): The beginning of "Untitled 1" by Raccoo-oo-oon
The bell at the beginning sounds like the world is ending, and when that shrill riff comes in at 0:40ish, you know that there is a whole new world of incomprehensible suffering. By the minute mark, when the vocals come in, that's the sort of noise you feel like making, too.

Best emotional moment (despair [transcendent]): When the strings come in on "Valuska"
The piano makes you aware of what Levinas calls the "rumbling silence", which is the awareness that things are happening that you cannot observe: a meaningful and full silence. And then when the strings come in, you become aware of the fundamental incompleteness of life, and the staggering distance between the imaginable and the real. Or something. And when you understand feelings of despair and tragedy that are inescapable on the level of the basic ontology of the universe, you wanna scream, or something, I dunno.

Best emotional moment (understanding [transcendent]): The slow part in the middle of "Good Intentions Paving Company" by Joanna Newsom
Falling in love with "the hook upon which everyone hangs" is not easy but I think if you listen to this song on quiet nights you can catch a glimpse of some beautiful universal truths.

Best emotional moment (understanding [local]): Hearing the birds tweet at the beginning of "Forest Stage"
Like, you know they aren't real birds... it's just the little SNES soundchip... but that somehow adds to it. That someone would replicate that sound. And it helps that the whole song is like getting into a warm blanket when it's cold outside.

Best emotional moment (???): The vocal part in minipops 67
The part at the end, at like 3:00... I am still wondering what emotion Aphex Twin felt when he wrote this, what emotion it was meant to convey, and what emotion I am meant to feel when I hear it. And, most mysteriously, what emotion am I feeling when I hear it? These seem like basic questions, but I am no closer to answering them.

Best emotional moment: The "pop the molly I'm sweating!" part of 10th Ward Buck's "St Thomas"
I don't think something has been so majestically but incomprehensibly produced since the Big Bang.

Best song: Shlohmo - "Later"
There's no point to trying to explain this song, really... if you listen to it you might feel some type of way, and if you don't, I don't think words will change your mind.


100 songs! 100 days! 100 blog posts!!

I hope you'll join me for the next 100!!!

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