Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Song of the Day #323 - Gucci Mane - My Shadow (Salem Remix)

I walk around the city like it don't matter

Song of the Day was on a long break for no good reason but here's a nice treat to jump back in with. As witch house's heyday of major microgenre fades further into the past, it's interesting to think about how future music nerds will rediscover it. Salem's King Night will probably retain landmark status, appearing on the recommendation charts that end up being the ultimate representation of such movements, but will these hypothetical chart-divers look far enough to discover this, their contribution to a Diplo-hosted Gucci Mane remix mixtape? In fact, do Gucci Mane discography researchers know about this one? How about Diplo fanboys? I fear that, by being on the fringe of so many artists, movements, and genres, a song as good as this could fall through the cracks.

I probably will never forget, because I am contractually obliged to myself to listen to the final track of the mixtape at least once a week. At those times, I often dive in to the rest of the mixtape, and find that each time I'm drawn to a different track on it. Well, "drawn to" is maybe an understatement: with this, my current object of obsession, I soundtracked about 3 hours of train and bus rides in the last week. It was an addiction of many choices, never just the "Repeat One" planned binge, but an indulgent choice made every 4 minutes to hit the replay button.

There's a lot to love here... the way the beat comes on during the DJ tags and Gucci's intro, creating a sort of perfect storm of noisiness, from which his triumphant verse emerges: "I'm a so icy veteran so you can't say beginner's luck". The Salem beats exemplify everything we love of witch house - super indulgent with spooky synths, but with a tight core of trappy percussion that, in retrospect, was very ahead of its time. The way the beat sort of "breaks down" at the latter halves of his verses, really emphasizing the evolution of the flow on each from proclamations to spiraling, pattern-based affirmations, it really shows that they remixed with meaning, alongside sound, in mind. Like look at how the gigantic "I'm a millionaire but self-made" bursts through the hazy beats but the preceding joke ("I was home schooled, I didn't have a schoolmate/Psych, I went to trap school, 60K in 12th grade", a classic Guccism) rides deeper in the sound... it makes the meat of Gucci's meaning feel like a sort of "unlockable", but I don't know if I can explain it very well.

But for all the mastery of these verses, what really impresses me is the bold choice Salem made on the hooks. The original's is an exploration of the role of Gucci's shadow, with impressive lines like "I run four deep, me, myself, and I and plus my shadow", but Salem drills down into the manic essence. The way they start the hook normally before cutting to the repeated "plus my shadow", and later, just "shadow", is really enthralling, it feels like the hook is being overpowered by the shadow energy. I love that they retained the "I walk around the city like it don't matter" at the start of each, though... the coolness and power emanating from that, and the duality of the shadow lurking behind it, this is the very essence of Gucci Mane.

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