This shit sucks. There goes three minutes and thirty-six seconds of my life that I can never get back.
He flows like a stubborn shit coming out of my ass after I drank a half-gallon of milk. Half of it sounds more like shitty spoken word than actual rapping. His delivery has little to no rhythm and it comes across as pretty monotone, other than that weird, off-putting way he has of pronouncing the “-all” sound.
I would kill to hear someone attempt a rap song in something other than 4/4 time. I know it would be hard and might even sound kinda weird, but I’d love to hear someone try to rap in 7/8 time, which is definitely a time signature that can groove despite being an odd time signature (see: The Ocean by Led Zeppelin). Or how about something in 6/8 or, GASP, 5/4 time? If a guy can flow well, he can sound good over multiple time signatures. I’m sure Jay-Z could pull it off.
Why is it that hip-hop has literally zero progression? How about a song that is IN 4/4 but has a displaced backbeat in it instead of ALWAYS being on 2 and 4? Is it beyond comprehension to introduce some fucking syncopation into the narrow world of hip-hop? And by funk, I don’t mean some James Brown samples but some actual, original funk.
And why don’t we see more live bands not called The Roots making music? It seems like, other than The Roots, every time a rapper introduces a live guitar sound into his music it’s just some warped attempt at “going rock”, like that Godawful shit that Lil’ Wayne put out a few years ago.
Track starts at 35s
Not a fan. Besides, just like I was griping about, once the dude actually starts rapping, the drummer plays a pretty straightforward groove, in 4/4, with the backbeat strictly on 2 and 4. He played some funkier, displaced backbeat stuff during the intro, but the part where the dude is actually rapping is pretty mundane drumming. Not that he isn’t a good drummer, but I’m thinking more along the lines of something like the drums in “Mother Popcorn” or “I Got the Feelin’” by James Brown, or the groove during the main riff of “No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin. If you listen to the drums during the main riff on No Quarter, the backbeat on the snare is on two, the and of three, the and of four (one and TWO and three AND four AND five and SIX and seven and EIGHT), six and eight.
Mother Popcorn is a super funky groove on the drums with a displaced backbeat. There’s a lot of ghost notes played on the snare throughout, a trademark of Clyde Stubblefield’s, but the accented notes on the snare are on two, the and of four, the e of seven and on eight (one e and u TWO e and u three e and u four e AND u five e and u six e and u seven E and u EIGHT). It’s a two-measure groove (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and 8) and the backbeat is only right on the quarter note twice, on the second and last quarter note of the groove.
Cold Sweat is a simpler groove with a displaced backbeat on the and of four in a two-measure groove (one and TWO and three and four AND five and SIX and seven and EIGHT and).
That’s what I mean by a displaced backbeat, for those who aren’t drummers out there. A lot of hip-hop adds an extra accented snare note somewhere in there or maybe they might remove a snare note entirely on two or four, but it’s never displaced. That’s where the funky, syncopated sound of James Brown comes from in many ways. It’s simple, but it breaks up the rhythm a little bit and makes if funky.
Shit, even Whole Lotta Love by Zeppelin features a displaced backbeat in a one-measure groove, with the backbeat coming on 2 and the and of four (one and TWO and three and four AND one and TWO and three and four AND).
It would require whoever’s rapping to have a bit of a syncopated delivery instead of flowing along nice and smoothly. And what about something in a 7/8 meter? You know, one and TWO and three and FOUR and five and SIX and seven and and one and TWO and three and FOUR and five and SIX and seven and and etc etc. The opening riff to The Ocean is in 7/8 and it grooves just as well as anything I’ve heard in 4/4 time. “March of the Pigs” by NIN has three measures of 7/8 and then two measures of 4/4 (basically 7/8, 7/8, 7/8, 8/8) and it sounds killer as well.
Why is there literally nothing like this in hip-hop? Why is this particular musical genre not progressing AT ALL? It’s the same shit today that it was 25 years ago, for the most part. The only thing that’s really changed is the type of samples used. I’ve noticed that there’s WAY more shit out there with 1/16 notes played on the hi-hats, but even then, it’s ALWAYS straight 16ths on the hi-hats instead of accented 1/16 notes, with the accent on the 8th notes (ONE e AND uh TWO e AND u THREE e AND u FOUR e AND u).
I think this song is a perfect illustration of where hip-hop drumming/beats could be going but isn’t, except for what ?uestlove is doing these days. But even then, it’s not a displaced backbeat, it’s simply removed in the first half of the main groove or replaced with ghost notes instead of an accented note and then in the second half of the main groove it’s on the and of one but also right on 2 and 4 as well. And the point is moot anyways since John Legend isn’t rapping but singing.