Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All around the world OF THE FUTURE you mean

I'm listening to Ghostface's Fishscale right now. I've had it for a while but never really listened to it much--I think it's pretty damn brilliant, but in all honesty I'm not in the mood for hip-hop very often.

Anyway. "Kilo" is among my favorite tracks on the album--that bassline is awesome, the horn samples somehow manage to sound both like they grew organically out of the song and like they were transported in from another universe. The ladies-sung chorus ("All around the world today/The kilo is the measure/A kilo is one thousand grams/Easy to remember") is kind of hilarious, and not in a way that is at odds with the tone of the song in general. What I just noticed is interesting is the opening of the song.

There's a little bit of dialogue at the beginning (the album is sadly ridden with those irritating "skits" that hip-hop and r&b people still sometimes think are a good idea even though I can't imagine anyone wanting to listen to them more than once), with some vague drug-preparing sound effects and the sound of "Kilo" being played on a radio in the background. Weird! In the...I'm not sure how to refer to it, I hope you'll understand what I'm getting at here. In the self-contained world of the album, the song "Kilo" doesn't exist yet. Hearing a snippet of it as if on the radio before the song actually appears on the album is like hearing a message from the future. Not far in the future, admittedly, because in one of the many moments on the album that for me approaches the sublime, the tinny radio-version of the song quickly transforms itself into the full-bodied album-version after only a few seconds of dialogue, but the future nonetheless.

I'm trying to think if there are any other similar time-play examples I can think of on other albums. The closest I can think of is the way Nelly Furtado's "Shit on the Radio" has always struck me as strange, in a good way. "You liked me til you heard my shit on the radio", she sings, in a song that as far as I can tell must have been written and recorded before anyone had ever heard her shit on the radio. Even weirder, she uses the phrase "Now that I've flown away" as a way of saying "Now that I've gotten famous"...but not only was "Shit on the Radio", as I already said, written and recorded before "I'm Like a Bird" (y'know, "I'll only fly away") was a hit, it appears before it on the album, so if we think of the tracklisting as a sort of narrative, she's predicting the future. Maybe she was listening to Ghostface's radio.

And with that, I'm away for Fagsgiving until Sunday night. After that, I'm jobless for probably about two weeks, so we'll see how this blob progresses from here. I promise the second part of Barock-Plastik will happen eventually. Happy Spanksgiving, everyone.


Anonymous said...

I think of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust as one of the most amazing achievements in rock--an album made by an obscure singer/songwriter about the rise and fall of an obscure singer/songwriter who becomes a superstar--which promptly turns the obscure singer/songwriter into a superstar.

hyperbolic, plain said...

Hold on. The "Kilo" chorus is a sample. It's lifted from something older... I imagine some kind of Sesame Street type educational song. Ghostface's use of it is ironic. That it is playing before the song begins is only a reference to the fact that it already exists, as its own track, in real life, prior to Ghost's appropriation of it.

Ethan said...

Oh, I didn't realize the vocals were sampled--I thought those were Ghostface's very own backup vocalists. Here's the original song:

Well, that's interesting too. Thanks!