With my recent migration to Facebook, I noticed several of my newfound friends sharing their favorite tunes in something called “The 30 Day Song Challenge.” Always looking for angles which allow readers to peer into our playlists, we decided to do the same challenge as a collective. For the next 30 days, we’ll pass the keyboard around to share our picks and encourage everyone to chime in with their choices and songs.
Let’s take the scenic route to show how a person who listens to hundreds of mp3s and artists in week’s time ends up determining a favorite song.
Less than three weeks ago, I broached the topic and listed five songs for spring. Without a doubt, “Highway To Hell” ranks as my most played song since first hearing it in December of 2010 and, in the past two weeks, I’ve found myself zoning into Bun’s verse moreso than Fred’s. Hearing him depict upping the ante from fisticuffs to handguns due to an unspecified squabble comprises much of what makes Bun a legend, occupying a lane that only a few others are qualified to ride in. The attention to detail, making the fine strokes to cover every centimeter of canvas and wasting no words in the process. But “most played” doesn’t always equal “favorite,” right?
So I moved on to songs that create a charge for me. No matter how many times I’ve heard them, these tracks sound as good as the first once beat begins rolling or the MC blurts out the opening lines. I’ve begun compiling a loose list of widely accepted “the undeniables,” those tracks granted almost universal acceptance across the spectrum of fans and never age no matter the number of times they’re played.
The two songs which sparked the thought, “Exhibit C” and “Let The Beat Build,” both share the key ingredients to gaining headnods from any crowd. Specifically, I watched “Exhibit C” mesmerize a crowd of several hundred at SXSW. The DJ cued the track during a set break and all the conversations being held by crowd members seemed to dissipate to nil as what I can only describe as a Hip-Hop hymn played. Most of us were either mumbling the song’s lyrics or straight bobbing our heads in solitary unison.
Last week, I had a similar experience with Weezy’s track as maybe six of us were standing around after an album listening session, talking about whatever Hip-Hoppers talk about…before we all just stopped talking, drifting away from the conversation and into the soundwaves of the song. At first, I felt both rude and odd for having done this, before realizing all five other people had taken a step back from where we were all standing and were either lip syncing the rhymes or standing with one fist balled, slowly moving an arm in a short, up and down motion.
Considering other which tunes elicit similar emotional reactions, Jay’s “PSA” came to mind, a track that’s recognizable from the opening fifteen seconds and enough to start a small disturbance once the “allow me to reintroduce myself” line jumps from the speaker. But as a favorite, I’m going with the song that meets the standard established above, then goes beyond by tossing in an immediate ego boost at the same time. The song, one by Jay’s self-proclaimed little brother, would be Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.”
Hip-Hop’s vast catalog contains a ceaseless number of odes to the paper chase, but Kanye’s wears a different coat of colors. The song’s aesthetic isn’t draped in pushing ki’s or uncharacteristic actions the majority can’t begin to imagine. West manages to capture attention by talking money in relation to how it changes people, spouting “I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven, when I awoke and I spent that on a necklace” in the opening. Usually, I’ve found a full, fist-pumping rhythm by the first chorus’ memorable “la, la, la” refrain and Kanye emphatically grunting “Uh-uh, you can’t tell me nothing.” Rap’s reigning egoist and the Gemini duality I often harp on flourish throughout with ‘Ye talking to the himself, the listener and God, never shying away from being honest and vulnerable. On the lyrical tip, there’s more than enough quotables are dispersed throughout, but no more ridiculously beautiful than “So I parallel, double park that motherfucker sideways” which leaves my mind saying “What the hell is Kanye talking about?” and “How can do that same sh*t?”
Kanye West – “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
Previously: Gotty’s Facebook Giveaway Continues