There is a sub-species of song that I cannot, despite my best efforts, avoid. It’s probably a fairly new species, given that Kool Herc only got out his two turntables and a microphone in the Bronx in the early 1970s, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. The original idea behind hip-hop was to isolate particular instrumental portions of records and loop them, before switching from one break (or drum beat) to another. The initial feeders of this experimentation were disco and funk because they were around at the time, and sounded good. With the popularization of this isolating technique, though, it was only a matter of time before we started hearing stranger and stranger things on loop.
Which brings me to my most recent, and some might say unfortunate, phase: digging tracks with objectively irritating samples at their core. The practice can trace a rich lineage from even before The Avalanches’ seminal “Since I Left You”, to Eminem’s “Just Lose It” (ahh ahh ahh ahh ahh), through to the rash of recent bed-squeaking RnB tracks that make me think, shudderingly, of Wale every time I roll over. Given listeners’ predilections for listening to music that doesn’t generally engender a nauseous reaction, most producers have tended to steer clear of bludgeoning the music public over the head with brash repetitiveness. Some, though, won’t shrink from a challenge.
THEY is RnB duo Dante Jones and Drew Love, formerly most celebrated for their work on the Skrillex-Zhu collab, “Working For It“. Now the group, who have only been recording together since 2015, have released their debut “Nü Religion: Hyena”, and the kind of braggadocio album title doesn’t misstate its contents: this is challenging, transgressive hip-hop. “U RITE”, then, fits snugly into our relatively short history of wildly offensive sounds repeated until you kind of like them. At this point, I actually think I hate the song. But last week, for sure, I loved it. It takes guts to make conch-shell/elephant-roar-based music in these days of Drake pseudo-Caribbean banality. “U RITE” hits, sometimes too hard, but at least you know you’re alive. The hyenas were always the most exciting part of the Lion King, after all.
THEY – U RITE