onLoop 9.20.10: Late-to-the-Party edition

Posted: September 20, 2010 by RA in Music, On Loop
Tags: ,

Here we have a selection of uptempo cuts I’ve been feeling lately. Like I said a while back, I’ve been kinda busy. So these cuts are probably pretty old to you, but the fact is, this post should’ve come out like six weeks ago. Sue me.

M.I.A. “XXXO (Remix featuring Jay-Z)” – 2010
When I first heard “XXXO” in May, I was disappointed. Who was this pop tart purring monotonously over this electro-Hip-Hop beat? Surely not Maya. Sure, I don’t wholly buy the countercultural anarchist shtick she sells, but I’m also not buying the media-sponsored image of her as an elite charlatan with truffle truffle oil stains on her artfully draped keffiyeh. Still, I was pretty shocked at the poppy come-on that was this track. That is, until I saw the video, with tongue planted firmly in cheek. With art direction modeled as a veritable pantheon of internet eyesores (complete with animated gifs, myspace Blingee graphics, and gilded text) and M.I.A. writhing around like an absurd (if gorgeously credible) sex-kitten, it was clear that Camp Maya was very much in on the joke. It also helps that she’s clearly saying the words “You want me be somebody who I’m really not.”

Message aside, this song was made to be turned up to 11. Rusko & Blaqstarr’s synth-heavy soundscape was ripped straight from an early ’80s Hip-Hop battle, so it’s only fitting that M.I.A. brings in Jay-Z, who not only trots out his context-appropriate ’80s flow, but manages to keep his lyrics relevant to the song’s subject — a rare feat for Hov.

But because the Jay version really is that much better:

N.E.R.D. – “Hot-N-Fun” – 2010
Sure, “Hot-N-Fun” credits Nelly Furtado as a featured artist, but she serves about as much purpose on this as Shay Hailey (you know, that third guy) does on any N.E.R.D. track. (I always wonder, do they pull him out of a storage locker every few years when it’s time to record?)

Anyway, this one was a creeper as well. My first instinct with any N.E.R.D. cut is to look at it through the prism of their spectacular debut, “In Search Of”. Once I can accept that they will never make another ISO, and come to appreciate their “She Wants to Move” retreads, I should be okay. I need to come to that realization quicker, ’cause this is some catchy shit.

Janelle Monáe – “Lettin’ Go” – 2006
Talk about being late to the party. Four years after glossing over it, I revisited “Lettin’ Go”, Monáe’s homage to  Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson from her independent debut, The Audition, and I had to smack myself for missing it the first time around. The highest praise I can give a Pop/R&B song is that it wouldn’t stand out on Off the Wall or Thriller, and I can totally see Mike doing his midtempo, laid-back version of the Crazy Legs to this cut.

To call this infectious would be an egregious understatement, and it’s all the more Mike-worthy because it was released three years before it became fashionable to remember how much of a genius he was.

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