8
Jan 14

FUGEES – “Ready Or Not”

Popular54 comments • 5,441 views

#745, 21st September 1996

ready or not Carried to Number One in “Killing Me Softly”’s slipstream, “Ready Or Not” feels a darker, stranger proposition. As before, Lauryn Hill holds the song together by laying an old soul tune over a spartan beat, but there the resemblance ends. “Killing” was intimate; “Ready Or Not” is forbidding – the tone set by the cold smears of woodwind the beat is built around: an Enya sample transformed into a ghost owl call, carried on a night wind across desolate open ground. The Delfonics’ song this track borrows is blissful – one of the greatest expressions of joy and life force in all 70s soul. Here it’s at least half threat, Hill investing the song’s break – “You can’t run away…” – with a dancing, taunting confidence.

In structure, this isn’t so odd – a traditional hip-hop group cut, the band’s three MCs taking turns between the hook. Wyclef jumps in first, taking the nocturnal fug of the beat and running with it for a hallucinatory verse, the context of every line slipping away as the next one starts. “My girl pinch my hips to see if I still exist: I think not.” By contrast, Lauryn Hill is focused and aggressive, her verse more of a battle rap, a jabbing barrage of “-ess” rhymes finished with a closing metaphor to piss off any new fans happy simply to accept her as the sweet-voiced soul singer. “I be Nina Simone, defecating on your microphone”. And Pras? Pras’ few bars are an anticlimax, though the Guantanamo Bay mention gives listeners now an anachronistic jolt.

It doesn’t tell a coherent story, it doesn’t exactly resolve, it’s the druggiest number one since “Jack Your Body” (though this is saying very little) and its difference from anything else this year – even its predecessor – is bewitching. The track slips away under cover of its Delfonics chorus, and it feels like something enigmatic and special has passed by – something not native to the sunny, brash uplands of the Britpop-era charts, and all the better for it.

8

Comments

  1. 1
    Tom on 8 Jan 2014 #

    As close as we get to a trip-hop No.1? (In mood, rather than scene affiliation)

  2. 2
    anto on 8 Jan 2014 #

    The intro on this really sticks in the mind. It’s one of those snatches of music that often comes to me from out of nowhere. One of the better productions on a number 1 in the mid-nineties.

  3. 3
    wichitalineman on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Having not heard this in almost two decades, two things strike me at once.

    1. The Fugees have dated very well indeed, and their production is far more minimal than I remember.

    2. Hearing the line “refugee from Guantanamo Bay” is eerie in the extreme. I didn’t think I’d heard of the place until 2001, but I must have done without really noticing.

    Memory playing tricks… I thought this post-dated Tarantino’s use of Delfonics songs, but Jackie Brown was still a year away.

    “Cold smears of woodwind” is spot on. Have woodwinds ever sounded any colder?

  4. 4
    Andrew Farrell on 8 Jan 2014 #

    A Pub Fact about this is that it had the most expensive video ever because they hired an actual submarine for it.

  5. 5
    swanstep on 8 Jan 2014 #

    @wichita, 3. Guantanamo and the special, all-too-convenient legal black hole it affords the US were key plot points in A Few Good Men (1992) – the ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ one (Jack Nicholson plays the commander at Guantanamo). And Delfonics songs were around a lot in the early ’90s: the New Kids on the Block did a cover, and Queen’s Logic (1991) had them on its soundtrack.

    The Enya sample from ‘Boadicea’ is astute – the song really stood out on her album The Celts (it’s much more electronic-feeling/Kraftwerky than anything else she ever did). I had a friend who choreographed some modern dance to it in 1995. Woodwinds? I don’t think so! The Enya is pure keyboards and hummy multi-tracked vocals.

  6. 6
    Dan Quigley on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Another Delfonics spot, from around this time: Notorious B.I.G. rewriting their otherworldly ‘Hey Love’ as ‘You’ve Been Robbed’ – a rare, if not totally welcome chance for the great man to show off his singing voice.

    I clearly didn’t have ears to hear this in ’96 – I have no recollection of it, but it seems to me that even the weaker verses here are among the more fluent raps we have heard in the narrow confines of this tale so far. The Nina Simone/Microphone couplet is tremendous.

    Coldest woodwinds? Those trilling flutes at the top line of Sinatra and Riddle’s version of ‘It Never Entered My Mind’ sound positively Antarctic to me, even if they are supposed to evoke a California morning.

  7. 7
    swanstep on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Anyhow, I knew the Enya (an 8) and Delfonics (a 9) sources very well in this case (whereas I normally didn’t know Massive Attack’s sources) so I find it hard to give the Fugees that much credit. Beating that one four chord pattern into the ground is pretty lazy writing, certainly compared to the sources. Hill’s voice is really something, of course, but it’s not enough to be worth more than a 6 for me (principally just for the slight oddity and refreshment this represents at the top of the charts).

  8. 8
    Tom on 8 Jan 2014 #

    I thought they might be synthi-ocarinas but decided to keep the woodwind attribution, oh well.

  9. 9
    Kat but logged out innit on 8 Jan 2014 #

    This was SO much better than Killing Me Softly! What a relief. Not least because it fitted in with my moody post-triphop I HATE EVERYTHING phase (more Portishead than Massive Attack I think? Though perhaps more late night BBC2 drama than film noir). Also there was Proper Rapping which my insufferable and illogial proto-rockism ‘allowed’, possibly thx to the above-mentioned microphone-shitting. Submarines >>>> cinema popcorn.

  10. 10
    Tom on 8 Jan 2014 #

    I had completely forgotten the submarine – but it explains why my first draft had sonar metaphors etc in it before I thought “hold on, that’s not really what the record sounds like” – the power of unconscious priming!

  11. 11
    To Mewing! (@tomewing) on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Fugees get moody, on Popular. http://t.co/VzqtrH5vM6

  12. 12
    James BC on 8 Jan 2014 #

    A milestone: the first hip hop number 1 without even a hint of the novelty single about it.

  13. 13
    hectorthebat on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Sample watch: As well as the Delfonics (Ready or Not) and Enya (Boadicea) samples, there are also samples from Bob Marley (Buffalo Soldier) and Kurtis Blow (If I Ruled the World).

  14. 14
    Cumbrian on 8 Jan 2014 #

    I treated this, at the time all the way up until September last year, as a totally original Fugees song – I had no idea that the chorus was a Delfonics song until I heard the original on, of all places, GTAV whilst driving around listening to the Pam Grier DJ’d Classic Soul station. The shame of my ignorance. Of course, it is a totally original Fugees song – just because the chorus is a cover doesn’t negate that it’s got a totally different feel, as Tom points out in his opening paragraph, and loads of bits and pieces that have nothing to do with The Delfonics at all. The veil of ignorance having been lifted from me, it’s not really changed my opinion of this, which I reckon is really, really good.

    In general, I am am wary of praising stuff just because it’s darker. It feels like a bit of lazy shorthand that people apply to works to mean weighty and not frivolous and therefore somehow more worthy and serious. I don’t think this is an either/or proposition – more frothy and frivolous stuff can be just as good as weighty stuff and similarly weighty stuff can be po-faced and boring. Nevertheless, this does seem to be darker and have more weight. I could be wrong but it feels a bit more serious than some of the other songs we have been considering over the last few Popular years and, for me, that is pretty welcome, as it still has memorable moments (the Nina Simone rhyme, the shout out of “Buffalo Solider, Dreadlock Rasta” in the middle of it) and a strong chorus. It also seems much more of a group thing than Killing Me Softly, which felt like a Lauryn showcase in some senses – not that that was bad but this seems to give more of an opportunity for the other members of the group to do stuff, whilst still having Lauryn Hill as the figurehead (given she’s responsible for the three bits I’ve called out).

    All in all. I really like it. 9 for me.

  15. 15
    Steve Mannion on 8 Jan 2014 #

    As I mentioned on the KMS thread I preferred the Salaam’s Ready For The Show mix of ‘Ready Or Not’ which got more traction on Kiss at the time for being considerably more boppin’. Even for a remix though it’s a severely transformed track with almost entirely different lyrics in which Lauryn’s chorus morphs into that of Barrington Levy’s ‘Here I Come’.

  16. 16
    Alex on 8 Jan 2014 #

    This was an absolute cracker. (PS – Guantanamo was mostly known in the 1990s for its use as a transit camp for refugees from Haiti and elsewhere trying to reach the US. Hence both the band and the reference.)

  17. 17
    Tom on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #14 I think serious is best when it’s inseparable from sensuous. He says glibly, but there’s a lot of textural surface pleasure here which I don’t always get out of “darker” material – Massive Attack, at least in the 90s, are another good example of that.

  18. 18
    Cumbrian on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #14: I think I would broadly agree with this. Just going “darker” is not enough, it has to be combined with something else. We’ll get onto other rappers* eventually that go dark (at least lyrically) and I found a lot of that annoying, as I didn’t feel like it was offering what you’ve described musically. Agreed on Massive Attack – though as a formula, it doesn’t always work for them, I think. 100th Window is probably as dark as their first 3 albums but I don’t think as good. Sounds a bit chilly. I like my dark warm, I guess.

    *I’m thinking mostly about a bleached blonde – and possibly his album tracks more than his singles.

  19. 19
    Chelovek na lune on 8 Jan 2014 #

    A real work of craft: a layered composition – one might say “aural installation”, that even succeeds in being stronger than the sum of its (already highly competent and skilfully orchestrated) parts. The underlay of understated menace strengthens it further. A 9.

  20. 20
    thefatgit on 8 Jan 2014 #

    “Ready Or Not” is tougher than “Killing Me Softly”. It’s all raised fists and “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” attitude. I’d still say “Fu-Gee-La” is my personal favourite of theirs. Darker would be the default description of RON for sure. And yes, I agree with Cumbrian that “dark” doesn’t always mean weighty/worthy, and we’ll be sure to come across outwardly frivolous records that hide things more serious within them. We’ve encountered a few already. Let’s just say we’ll be discussing some doomier stuff in the not too distant future.

    I have often been attracted to the foggy melancholia of trip-hop. Massive Attack, Portishead and DJ Shadow rubbed shoulders comfortably with everything else I was listening to in the mid 90’s, not least some upcoming bunnyable purveyors of electronica.

    I’ve never knowingly heard The Delfonics’ RON. I’ll have to check that out.

  21. 21
    Rory on 8 Jan 2014 #

    A new song to me (I never owned The Score), and I’m instantly hooked. I hadn’t heard the Delfonics or Enya sources, either, so have checked those out too, and liked them both. They’re transformed here into something equally compelling; this is haunting and assured. 8.

  22. 22
    pink champale on 8 Jan 2014 #

    This is obviously great but my Fugees pick, even above Fu-Gee-La is Manifest, particularly Lauren’s rap. The bit where she goees into hysterical overdrive channeling the RZA’s fast-rap style “Iwasblessedbutcouldn’tfeelitlikewhenIwascaressedclutchingmybreastoverwhelmedbygod’stestIwasgod’sbestcomtemplatingdeathwithagillette….” is absolutely heartstopping.

    Interested in anyone’s take on Blunted by Reality. I’ve not listened to it in years and don’t think i ever really got a handle on it, but it had a whole ramshackle thing going on that I think pretty much stands unique as something tried, abondoned and never picked up by anyone else.

  23. 23
    swanstep on 8 Jan 2014 #

    ‘Ready or Not”s video is quite impressive – helicopters, jetskis, submarines! It’s like the Michael Bay version of Tricky’s ‘Overcome’ vid.

  24. 24
    MikeMCSG on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Didn’t really like Killing Me Softly as anything from the early weeks of 1973 is pretty sacrosanct to me but I quite like this for that overarching doomy feel.

  25. 25
    punctum on 8 Jan 2014 #

    In some quarters The Score is still erroneously viewed as a cheerful party of a rap album but its own quarters are as bleak and unforgiving as anything by the Roots or Company Flow; tracks like “Zealots,” “The Beast” and “Cowboys” float uncertainly past like stiff breezes of seawind-driven bullets, and “Ready Or Not” is scarcely less dark. Essentially a bootleg of the old Thom Bell/Delfonics number sung and rapped over the ominous low Fairlight refrain of Enya’s “Boadicea,” the track twists these emotions and gestures around to represent a twin-pronged militant uprising against both the Establishment and the gangsters, in their separate but linked ways intent on burning down the ghetto. The choice of “Boadicea,” from the soundtrack to the BBC TV documentary series The Celts, is especially prudent in terms of the uprising of a frustrated underdog; in the first verse Wyclef speaks of himself posthumously as a gangster running towards his preordained doom (“My girls pinched my hips to see if I still exist”) while cocking a knowing wink towards the Senate (“I want to play with pelicans from here to Baghdad”). Then Lauryn declares that she will conquer with stilettos of raging beauty (“So while you’re imitating Al Capone, I’ll be Nina Simone/And defecating on your microphone”), and finally Pras ties the whole reFugees theme up, citing Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” as a warning shot of revolt (“On the twelfth hour, fly by in my bomber”) and – several years ahead of schedule – gives a derisive namecheck to Guantanamo Bay (“Dance round the border like I’m Cassius Clay”). Radical on all fronts, “Ready Or Not” became the latest in a surprisingly long line of Trojan horse chart-toppers in a year which has clearly been sorely underrated for far too long.

  26. 26
    mapman132 on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Certainly a much harder edged and atmospheric song than their previous song. Strangely not a hit in America as it received little radio play (peaked at #69 on the airplay only chart) despite being the followup to a huge airplay hit from a #1 album. Perhaps the lack of single releases confused radio programmers who immediately moved onto “No Woman, No Cry” which I DO remember getting played, although even that only peaked at #38 airplay (again, no single release).

    So then my only exposure to “Ready or Not” was via its video which did get some MTV play. The video and music go together perfectly. As I stated before, I’m not a hip hop fan but I’ll still give this a 6/10.

  27. 27
    AMZ1981 on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Interestingly, given that there were some extremely successful solo singles and at least one vastly acclaimed and huge selling album to come this appears to mark the last number one appearance by the Fugees or their component parts.

  28. 28
    mapman132 on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #27 Not entirely true (see 2 July 2006).

  29. 29
    ciaran on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #27/28 – There’s also a bunny with a fugees sample in 2004 to get through aswell.

    Which really isnt a patch on ready or not. A much more rounded and enjoyable effort then killing me softly was. The sense of danger really suits the group here and the ‘Independece day’ style-video really suits the mood of the song.

    Was a huge favourite in my school back then and more than justified the hype surrounding them.Spoiled a bit for me when there was a dance mix of this released not long after.Still marvellous to liten to now again.(The fugees version obviously)

    Of all the Fugees hits from that 12 month period its aged better than the others. 8.

  30. 30
    lonepilgrim on 8 Jan 2014 #

    I absolutely love this – minimal instrumentation, on point vocals animated by simmering, righteous anger tempered by a sense of sorrow and loss – and yet still pop.
    The Guantanamo reference and the experience of migrants still seem very relevant today – I find it encouraging that the UK public was willing to put this at the top

  31. 31
    pink champale on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #30 This gives me the opportunity to ask a question I have asked the telly every time I’ve watched X factor in the last couple of years. What the hell does “vocals on point” mean and why has everyone suddenly started saying it? Does ‘on point’ just mean in tune/good, or is there some deeper technical meaning?

  32. 32
    lonepilgrim on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #31 Good question! I don’t watch X Factor so I haven’t picked the phrase up there – I suspect it comes from watching too many US TV shows and/or reading so many US Tumblr posters.
    What I meant to say by using the phrase was that I love the ways that the rhythms of the vocal lines add a sense of syncopation and surprise to the recording – providing both music and meaning

  33. 33
    Steve Mannion on 8 Jan 2014 #

    ‘On Point’ also the title of House Of Pain’s second biggest hit no less.

  34. 34
    Doctor Casino on 8 Jan 2014 #

    8 maybe a [i]bit[/i] high for me but I really like this song. Moody and suggestive, and I think all three raps are great. Pras’s is maybe the least distinctive, but that last couplet – “I refugee from Guantanamo Bay / Dance around the border like I’m [i]Cassius[/i] Clay” is killer. The Guantanamo thing is clearly intended as a gesture of solidarity with Haitian refugees as suggested upthread, as well as with his bandmate: Wyclef Jean grew up in Haiti of course.

    Since we discussed Hill thoroughly last time, maybe it’s fair to give the other two Fugees their due. Pras’s career stalled out rather strangely – “Ghetto Supastar” was enormous, and one of my favorite hip-hop hits of that era – but no one seemed to transfer their affection for the song onto its notionally lead performer. It would seem that the hook, ODB’s rap, and Wyclef’s production were all more memorable than Pras’s rap…. though again he delivered some great ones – “Strike with the forces of King Solomon / lettin’ bygones be bygones, and so on and so on.” He seemed to have a knack strident delivery of good-sounding words and some memorable images – maybe he just didn’t have enough to say, or a clear lyrical persona. The followup “Blue Angels” apparently did very well in the UK but I have no memory of it whatsoever, and he didn’t put out another album until 2005 (!), which went nowhere.

    Wyclef, the seeming mastermind behind it all (although as I noted last time out, Hill turned out to be more than just a pretty voice), also hasn’t fared so well. [i]The Carnival[/i] is great (but could be six songs and several skits shorter), and was well-reviewed. The followup albums, oddly, charted higher even as their singles sank like stones and nobody cared. Perhaps his sense of humor was out of step with the times, or maybe he (like Hill) poured all his best material into one album. I remain irrationally fond of his ill-starred, jumpy comedy (?) duet with pro wrestler The Rock, “It Doesn’t Matter.”

  35. 35
    Carl Morris on 8 Jan 2014 #

    It’s worth noting that during this period RZA of Wu Tang was also highly adept at turning joyful soul samples like Delfonics into unsettling hip-hop. It was in the air. It’s just that Wu Tang didn’t quite have the sweet hooks to enjoy such a hit at the time.

  36. 36
    Steve Mannion on 9 Jan 2014 #

    Well this should’ve been #1 just for the video alone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZGi2lyQJQs (Ghostface ‘Daytona 500’)

  37. 37
    Speedwell54 on 9 Jan 2014 #

    The Fugees were a bit like Jive Bunny really. Remixing, re-recording, sampling, copying, editing. Both had four top 5 hits including at least two No 1 singles. Both had a album peaking at No2. Both had top 10 careers that were over within 13 months. Ok they are NOTHING like Jive Bunny. Their charts careers were very similar though.

    I liked KMS initially but it was around for quite a while and the ‘one time’, ‘two times’ got to me eventually. Ready or Not had none of that. Musically it sounded important and serious. An event. 8

    On listening to it again I had forgotten about Lauryn breaking into a Vic Reeves impression with the ‘do you do voodoo?’ line.

  38. 38
    Billy Hicks on 9 Jan 2014 #

    A dance remake of this, by ‘The Course’ went top 5 in April 1997, pretty astonishingly quick given that this had only barely left the chart a few months earlier. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUQeMvdvCPo They (actually an alias for dutch DJ Vincent Hendriks) followed it up with another cover of a bunnied early ’97 chart-topper, which got to #8.

    As a sucker for 90s dance music anyway it’s surprisingly not as terrible as you’d perhaps initially assume, and does a fairly alright job of housing things up. Original all the way though as ever.

  39. 39
    AMZ1981 on 9 Jan 2014 #

    #28 my bad. I had actually checked on Wikipedia to be certain; however the discography’s there don’t show featured credits. I was hoping it would be a here today gone tomorrow chart topper with about seven different featured artists but it was a big smash as well. I’m annoyed with myself.

  40. 40
    Ed on 9 Jan 2014 #

    Amazon”s algorithm has decided for some reason – I suspect a 90s hip-hop binge in a sale a couple of years ago – that The Score is the album I would like more than any other in the history of recorded music. Every time I log in, it’s there at the top of my “Amazon recommends” list.

    I have resisted until now, but having been reminded of these two cracking number ones – and Fu-gee-la, my own favourite, which also has cracking wintry woodwind / synth on it – I am wondering if I should give it a go. What’s the verdict? Has the AI got it right?

  41. 41
    James BC on 9 Jan 2014 #

    #34
    Pras’s role in the Fugees was a point of interest to me, and is still somewhat shrouded in mystery. On The Score he almost always comes in and does verse 3, after Wyclef and Lauryn have already made the track a success. His verse on Ready Or Not is very representative: brief and authoritative, it rounds off the track nicely and provides an extra angle, but the hard work has already been done.

    He’s listed on the sleeve of The Score as Executive Producer, whereas Wyclef and Lauryn are only co-executive producers. That suggested to me and others that his main role in the group was as a kind of background mastermind or production genius. After the split it was Wyclef (and his partner Jerry Wonder, who was also involved with The Score) who turned out to be the master producers, but that was what a lot of people thought at the time – Wyclef was seen more as the fun guy whereas Pras was assumed to be doing the serious work.

    I do think that Pras was important to the group. There are actually quite a lot of rappers who add something to a group track but can’t quite carry a solo track or album on their own. It’s a bit of a shame that there are so few rap groups around these days, since it means those artists either have to look for endless feature credits or never get anywhere at all.

  42. 42
    Tom on 9 Jan 2014 #

    Yeah, the decline of the rap group is an interesting topic and one I don’t know a whole lot about (my historical grasp of hip-hop isn’t great in general) – at the chart level, the occasional boyband aside, we seem to be in an era of solo acts now anyhow.

  43. 43
    James BC on 9 Jan 2014 #

    I think the decline of rap groups is because rap, particularly at grass roots level, has shifted away from live performance and towards recording. In the 80s if you wanted to make a name for yourself you needed to put on a live show, so you had to have a couple of rappers and also probably a DJ. These days you make tracks or a mix tape and put them online, so you just need yourself and a producer to collaborate with (who might also be you). DJs like Jam Master Jay and Mase from De La Soul are nowhere unless they also produce.

    I wonder whether you could make a link between this new, fluid world of ad hoc collaborations between different vocalists and producers (often with credits for the producer(s) as well as singers and rappers) and the jazz world 40 or 50 years ago. People like Miles Davis would assemble a different band for each new record, and the sleeve would say prominently exactly who was on it so that fans could follow individual musicians that they liked.

  44. 44
    Steve Mannion on 9 Jan 2014 #

    There’s been a group decline generally (with “too many people to pay” the common excuse) so I don’t see it as anything specific to hip hop. There are still collectives (e.g. A$AP Mob, Odd Future) whose members all appear on each others solo records (and perform regularly at festivals worldwide). A more conventional group model succeeding again would be welcome though.

    The ‘nostalgic’ market is probably bigger tho. OutKast are back to headline Coachella and I’m sure another FuGees reunion (they had one years back for Dave Chapelle’s Block Party film) would do good business. But a new album from Hill this year seems likelier than it has for a long time.

  45. 45
    rabbitfun on 9 Jan 2014 #

    Wyclef Jean was much bigger post-Fugees than his own records – which were quite successful, but not excessively so, and certainly not as big as Lauryn Hill’s first one – might suggest. For a couple of years, he was everywhere as a writer and/or producer, and as such had a hand in worldwide smashes (but non-bunnies) like Destiny’s Child’s breakthrough hit “No No No Part 2” (1998), Whitney Houston’s “My Love Is Your Love” (1999) and Santana’s “Maria Maria” (2000). The 2006 Bunny mentioned above (the biggest of them all) actually came quite a while after his peak period.

    And all the while, a certain dotted william was taking notes. Surely this magnificent but ramshackle and short-lived Fugees thing could be made into a streamlined and shiny machine built to last?

  46. 46
    glue_factory on 9 Jan 2014 #

    …and don’t forget his crowning, post-Fugees achievement; that photo of his on his birthday on a motorbike in his pants

    http://m.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/picture-buff-wyclef-jean-poses-in-underwear-straddles-motorcycle-for-43rd-birthday-20121810
    (if you missed it)

  47. 47
    taDOW on 10 Jan 2014 #

    it took a chapelle intervention at his peak to get a one shot fugees reunion so i wouldn’t hold my breath on that front. i’d give this a 9, i’ll take it over the enya and the delfonics sources (and i like both of those). president obama’s favorite song.

  48. 48
    taDOW on 10 Jan 2014 #

    have to admit the ‘wuh?’ over gitmo ref here reminding me of kids on twitter wondering how biggie knew the wtc was gonna get bombed

  49. 49
    Query on 11 Jan 2014 #

    #22: I think Hill on “How Many Mics” is up there for my all-time favourite hip hop verses: “MC’s make me vomit; I get controversial / Freak your style with no rehearsal / Au contraire mon frere, Don’t you even go there / Me without a mic is like a beat without a snare.”

    #41: Although there certainly remains a market niche these days for the feature-specialist rapper. Ludacris was the archetype in the 2000s, and 2 Chainz aptly fills that role today (at $100,000 a feature, apparently).

  50. 50
    Patrick Mexico on 12 Jan 2014 #

    Bizarrely, my recollection of a kid is that it made me want to make a piping hot cup of coffee during an unfathomably violent thunderstorm. I guess I mixed up the brilliant “doomy” intro with the one to, ahem, Africa by Toto – which I THINK must have been on SOME kind of coffee advert at least once in history – though I think there was a rap collective in the noughties who sampled that with a refrain of “I think the rain is coming back” to similarly slick and confident effect to this?

    This is quite a belter – the “defecate on your microphone” bit really wasn’t necessary, but better a hip-hop group who sound like they’re slapping their palms in anticipation with baseball bats, rather than stuttering their way through the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, so extremely boringly, I fully agree with Tom’s 8.

    The “least controversial” chart shows there’s been a very close consensus on the last three number ones! Methinks the next might smash it to pieces. You’ll say that we’ve got nothing in common..

  51. 51
    glue_factory on 13 Jan 2014 #

    Compared to Tupac’s Hit Em Up which was also out this year and where he threatens to murder anyone East of San Diego, pretty much, I’d take a bit of defecation, as it were. But that record takes us, inexorably, towards a later number one, so that’s a discussion for another day

  52. 52
    Alex on 13 Jan 2014 #

    I have just discovered that YouTube censors out the line about Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone! What will these vandals defile next?

  53. 53
    Patrick Mexico on 14 Jan 2014 #

    The bridge from On a Night Like This!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAsE4i35cO4

  54. 54
    Patrick Mexico on 9 Nov 2014 #

    Re 50: That should read “My recollection of it as a kid,” and I know answering my own question secures me 2014’s Biggest Douche in the Universe award, but the track is “Murder Reigns” by….. another bunny! I didn’t expect that.

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