Filed under: Features,Shots Fired,The Unkut Opinion
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
One of the many notable moments from the 2nd episode of The Combat Jack Radio Show was when the topic of ‘Verse of the Year’ came up. Dallas declared that Black Thought was the current holder of that title thanks to his rousing performance on ‘Walk Alone’ from How I Got Over. Despite being aware of the fact that DP has been known to carry weed for Philly’s Finest on occassion, I thought maybe I should check the album out again after having initially dismissed it as a ‘snooze-fest’. Turns out that Black Thought murders shit over some rich, moody compositions. But there’s something not quite right – the majority of the choruses are fuckin’ horrible. I’m not sure if it’s the choice of vocalists or the words, but the hooks on this record completely kill the vibe for me. To be honest, The Roots have a pretty poor track-record in this area. ‘Dat Skat’, anybody? But I’m not trying to make an example of the Hardest Working Band In Hip-Hop, because this problem is an epidemic right now.
At what point did scratching become played-out on the hook? Obviously, not every song can have cuts on the chorus. especially since most new acts don’t even have a DJ! Nothing wrong with a chanted or rhymed hook when executed properly, but everyone has to have singing now? Not quality singing from a professional either – ‘ironic’, off-key warbling’s from MC’s or strep-throat caterwauls from some dame that they met at the club last week seem to be the flavor of the month. Some rapper’s might feel that scratch hooks are the exclusive domain of DJ Premier and his broken cross-fader signature style, but a recent glance at DJ Revolution‘s resume will reveal that in the hands of a master, this sweet science is anything but obsolete.
Scratch hooks aren’t for the faint of heart, though. Not any old hump can source the right mix of vocal snippets and sew them together into catchy bridge between verses. But there are alternatives – even just throwing a phrase in to the sampler and repeating it over and over like a 1986 Marley Marl joint is preferable to the aural cluster-fucks that some of these douche-hammers are trying to pass off as anthems. And if you insist on having some Rap & Bullshit on there, at least sample some good singing (Kanye’s original ‘All Falls Down’ comes to mind) or save up for a Mary J. Blige guest spot if Rhianna‘s management won’t return your calls. As for screaming your hook on some 1993 shit? You ain’t Onyx, fuckers! I know these type-emotional Leader of the N00b School dudes want to sing about broken hearts and being depressed, but don’t fear the scratch. It might even make people forget those weak-ass bars you just mumbled!
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