Saturday, October 17, 2015

Song of the Day #218 - Gucci Mane and Chief Keef - Semi On Em

Bitch, I'm Gucci Mane, you heard that I go coco loco

Today is a pretty auspicious day, for two good reasons and one extremely bad. First off, it's the 20th Anniversary of the Touhou franchise! And it's 10/17, the official holiday of Gucci Mane's record label! I looked in vain (by searching "Gucci Mane touhou" on Youtube) to find something that combined them. The closest I got was this, which is Gucci Mane x Japanese video game thing, and this, which is Touhou x Atlanta hip hop. Anyways instead I chose this, the opening track from one of Gucci's most anticipated and best mixtapes of 2014, Big Gucci Sosa, his collaborative tape with Chief Keef.

My expectations for a full collaboration between these two artists was pretty high, but I also had my fears... these are both artists that I'd describe as having very high "idles", like, they often put in the minimum amount of work, but the results of that for them is still extremely enjoyable. They're both rappers that have a very strong "sound", and as long as they're given the opportunity to demonstrate that, there's a high floor of quality. For both of them, this sound is largely based on a sort of "uwah"-feeling... I'm not sure if I can describe it much past that... it's sorta like when Chaucer talks about the "rum ram ruf" of his writing, it's a feeling that goes well beyond the sounds it describes.

Anyways I love it in both of them, just how their voices sound and how they naturally ride beats, but I knew that if it was just that, it wouldn't be half of what it could be. But my fears were blown away at the very starting instant of this track: that huge, huge bass, that harsh clap, that catchy little melody... And then the opening line, my lord, you just knew he would be completely on point for the entire song - the entire tape! - just from how he hits the end of that line. His whole verse is great, the meter and rhyme scheme are complex but feel straightforward and natural. I love how he escalates the pitch of his voice twice - a subtle one after the "he's a heavy smoker" line, and a more dramatic one after "can't even see the sofa"... the latter one especially does an excellent of showing a "shifting perspective" reflected in the lyrics.

And then Chief also puts in a lot of work, an even rarer sight, delivering a thematically tight and lyrically dense hook and verse that's both laid back and trapped out but also surging with aggressive drill energy. Oh man though my favorite part is how the first three quarters of the hook are inexplicably panned hard to the left, with all the ad-libs panned entirely to the right, until the titular lines come in... it's super hype, it really makes you anticipate the resolution in those lines, but it's also done in such a bizarre way, with a really weird sense of naivety and innocence, right? Like it's such an "outsider" sort of decision... It really showed the potential of the tape: not only would these guys be in their "tryhard" modes, opening up the ceiling for how impressive things could get, but some really strange things could happen too, making the limit beyond your imagination.

Here's the sad news: indescribable Youtube rapper 3Pac has passed after suffering a heart attack and subsequent drowning while playing water polo. Although he is "merely" a "meme rapper", he had a unique aesthetic and persona that was often genuinely compelling and definitely worthy of remembrance and respect. I hope to write something in tribute soon once I come up with better things than "indescribable" and "unique".

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