Saturday, February 9, 2019

Song of the Day #348 - Migos - Cocoon

Stars in the ceiling like I'm living outer space

When I was doing Song of the Day frequently (a loooong time ago, orz) I sometimes wondered if it was actually changing my listening habits, like, usually I'd pick the song based on whatever I was listening to repeatedly that day, but was I only having these single-song sprees because I anticipated writing about them later? Having taken a 200+ day break from SotD I can confirm that no it is not because of that LOL. That whole time, I was still listening to songs on repeat like, every single day. We'll probably talk about a lot of them eventually.

But since no song had more days than this one, we're starting here, with possibly my favorite Migos song of all time. Sure, the run of "T-Shirt", "Call Casting", and "Bad and Boujee" on Culture is legendary, but I wouldn't put any single one of them over "Cocoon". And yeah, the intensity and triumph of "Cross the Country" is difficult to top, but the perfection achieved here is so much more evolved, so refined... Like, just listen to the beat at the start, how minimal it is, how spacey, and yet, Quavo's little ad-libs, how much they anticipate not just the beat, but a flow he's found within it so addictive and pleasurable that it must be a drug.

His finesse on the first verse is powerful but delightful, freely mixing lines as silly as "twin choppers, Sonic and Tails" or "white cocaine, Pinky and the Brain" with the badass triumph of "no neighbours/house on the hills with the acres". My favorite has to be the way he delivers "what a time to be alive", basically everyone's catchphrase of the last few years, with a freshness that makes you reevaluate what the words actually mean. The verse is a perfect counterpoint to Takeoff's, who also experiments with flows across this godlike beat, hitting with fast percussive cascading lines, but also finding the space for the title drop - "when I'm in the coupe I feel like a cocoon". Ahhh, I love when the line that's the key to the hook is actually inspired by a line in a verse that you hear later, especially if it's delivered differently like this, that's just the pinnacle of hype.

The hook, by the way, is fantastic, solidifying Quavo's place as like, the hook man of the latter half of the decade. The sweet serenading terminal "-oon" rhymes perfectly counters the insistent beats of the line's start... you feel an energy build and then spread out smoothly over that last syllable, it's pure bliss. At the same time, though, as soon as you hear "When I take drugs, I go to the moon", you start to anticipate the "cocoon" rhyme, and every line that passes without it builds another type of energy. But, in a moment of pure genius, in the instant that I think really creates the space for this song to become a masterpiece, he applies the same structure of "fast fast, fast fast, swooooon" to the entire hook itself! First there's the "by myself at the top like a cocoon", which is delivered in the same sort of pattern, and might even be a little disappointing, like, it isn't treated as special, even though it finally has "cocoon". But then, right after, right as the beat turns a corner, he hits the resolution: "When I'm in the coupe, I feel like a cocoon", and you just want to melt into it, you really feel like you're a cocoon too.

It's a real virtuoso sorta move, and it's hard to explicate, let alone overstate, how it works so well, but it isn't even my favorite part of the song. No, for me, the highlight, the part that keeps bringing me back, is Offset's verse. Hoooolyyy. After two repetitions of the hook, you think you've figured out this "turning" structure, this system of contrasts, but no, no, your anticipation only makes you more unready for what's about to explode into view. He starts off fast and furious, a jaw-dropping display of syllables, but there's something going on melodically that really makes it work... It's too complex to explain it now, but basically everything can be thought of as either "high" or "low", and paying attention to the pattern of when he switches up and down reveals that there's actually a whole lot going on besides just frantic spitting. It's this pattern that comes into effect when he hits the beat shift in the hook, and absolutely NAILS the transition, the same sort of turn and release that Quavo uses on the hook, but like, in hyper drive, like you're actually sailing not to the moon, but deep outer space. I have given this a lot of attention and a lot of thought and I still can't pinpoint exactly what makes the "hold on wait, hop up in the Wraith, stars in the ceiling like I'm living outer space" so addictive, so powerful, so triumphant, but I have never gotten bored in trying to find out.

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