Friday, August 7, 2009

Never Stop Jockin On Them Haters, Man

Listen, I read long books, I eat lots of seafood, and I wear soft sweaters in the wintertime, but that doesn't mean I'm better than you. Just SO much fancier. It's why when I hosted a dinner party last week where my guests and I ate gold-plated chucken cutlets and explained to one another why certain New Yorker cartoons were funny, my friend Thurston was surprised about my soundtrack choice for the evening. Thursty Thurst was like, "Ben, whatever are we listening to?"


Totally understandable why he's not completely respected. Not the best singer, not the best rapper, a little bit annoying, has a name that's like two words too long - there's a lot to hate on - but whatever! Did you listen to that song up there? The dude makes really fun singles. He kind of realizes he can coast by on hot beats, but he actually gets really hot beats and then coasts like a pro. Does he say anything in that entire song that means anything? I don't know, I was too busy breaking it down.

iSouljaboytellem is more or less a bunch of filler + "Turn My Swag On" + "Kiss Me Thru The Phone." But those two singles are so incredible. I mean, "Kiss Me Thru The Phone" is about a step and a half away from something *NSYNC would have done a decade ago (speaking of which, a decade? WHAAAT? Where has Chris Kirkpatrick been all this time?). Super slick production, corny lyrics, slow delivery so 14 year-old girls can sing along at Jingle Ball. The fact that he raps it makes it edgy by Top 40 standards, but really, we're dealing with bubblegum pop here. And he kills it just like *NSYNC would have, because *NSYNC was bomb.

At this point I find it even hard to judge "Crank Dat." I hated it, but then I was beaten over the head by it and taken capture by its steel drums and lyrics about YOOUUUUU and soon enough I started feeling a loyalty to my captor, regardless of the danger or risk in which it had placed me. Now I don't mind listening to it.

But back to the *NSYNC thing: it really is important ("important," I understand we're only talking about Soulja Boy here, but still) to realize that looking at this as anything other than pop music is a huge mistake. This is not socially conscious rap or gangsta rap or any kind of rap made to show off lyrical skill or wordplay or some kind of precision on the mic. He's not going to be featured on the next Talib Kweli single. That's just not who he is. I feel like who he is is really this outrageous 19 year old kid who likes to party and sing poorly but sometimes that is the exact right combination for a perfect pop song.

I'm just drawn towards music that makes me feel something (because I just want to feel something, ANYTHING, you guys). I like this because it makes me feel sad and I like this because it makes me feel happy and I like Soulja Boy because he makes me feel like opening a club on top of a mountain where all we do is play synth-driven bangers and sing along while we grind. And that's a really good thing!

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