Saturday, 10 September 2011

Growing Up, Nobody Ever Does

Why I would rather live in Seattle, part 86:

Notice the squeal of the beat at 42 seconds to emphasize base, and the kick drum making its entrance an instant later at the words kick drum (of course).  The real hook, though, is at 47 seconds, in the slight pause before bump:

Hot box, let the bass | bump.

I've bolded the accented syllables.  After the initial iamb - hot box - there's a breath over the comma before the anapaest - let the bass.  Two stressed syllables in a row breaks the flow of the line, so there's a second before Macklemore comes in with bump.  Not only does the pause work like a charm, metrically, but it also represents a bump in the rhythm of the line.  There are certainly other ways to flow - look at Aesop Rock, who is always an instant behind the beat and seems very happy to be there.  But you need a near-flawless rhythm to pull off subtleties like this - in a line full of little pauses and jars, a deliberate gap won't stand out - and Macklemore has it.

Perhaps this is a feature of Seattle hip-hop. After all, Geologic (of Seattle outfit Blue Scholars) has a similarly careful style. Unlike Geologic, though, Macklemore's delivery is highly-strung and emotional.  Such a combination of passion and skill is rare and valuable.

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