Illustration by Ben Kothe. (Thanks, Ben!)
By Miguel Otárola
It was nine months ago when the last edition of Loops came out. Thank you for the #BringBackLoops or #BringLoopsBack or “where’s loops” business, which actually made me feel as if this newsletter was something you liked to receive and read. To all my “Loopers” who, whether seriously or jokingly, told me to start it up again, this one’s for you. (Now we can shift our attention to getting my friend Danika to revive “mews weekly,” a roundup of photos of cats with progressive views.)
I don’t know exactly how often I’ll be posting, nor if there will be any special sections or contributors. I guess it will happen whenever I feel I have something to say or share. Doesn’t this look a little neater now, too? Now, on to the music!
In Defense of “Boo’d Up”
Earlier this month, Loops was called up on a one-day contract to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis to share my annual Song of the Summer list. To be honest, I’ve been quite worried there aren’t enough contenders this time around. “I Like It” will still likely win, but even the two Drake tracks I mentioned seem to have fallen off. (May I suggest, in their place, “Nonstop”?)
But there is one new song I want to add to this race, an underdog that could give Cardi B a worthy fight. That is “Boo’d Up,” the breakout hit by British singer Ella Mai. I won’t pretend I know anything about the origins of this song, let alone exactly who Ella Mai is. What I do know is that “Boo’d Up” is a loin-burning banger, one with the power to unite people in momentary bliss.
“Boo’d Up” sounds timeless the moment you hear it, so much so you could mistake its progression for an 80’s soul sample. It shares the same quality that made SweetSexySavage by Kehlani (who Ella opened for on a recent tour) and Yours Truly by Ariana Grande so pure: A comfort that feels detached from any time or place, as if floating above the nighttime clouds.
One particular chord progression, which descends back to the beginning of the loop, hit me so hard I had to go on YouTube and watch four different piano tutorials to learn what it was. (It was Cdim7 to Faug to Bbmin11.) Ella, whose voice is a mix of her touring mate and SZA, will hopefully have more coming her way. For now we have this song, which you will hear more as the summer drifts along. And no, I ain’t talking about the remix.
Thiel the Rapper
There are four new Chance the Rapper songs out now, released last week after maybe erroneously telling the Chicago Tribune he would release an album instead. There is one standout from the bunch, with the bunch sounding more or less like the opening theme to a Discovery or PBS kids show. “Dragon Tales,” perhaps?
The real star of “I Might Need Security” is a vulgar sample from a Jamie Foxx comedy special, the backbone of its instrumental. It’s the perfect example of clever indecency that Chance excels at, the type you can’t help but love. He also borrows from Lil Wayne, dropping similes, double entendres and playful threats to craft his verses. (You can’t tell me pre-Recession Tunechi didn’t already say “I’ll make you fix your words like a typo suggestion.”)
Chance drops a bomb in the song’s second verse, claiming he bought the shuttered Chicagoist “just to run you racist bitches out of business.” The “racist bitches,” as disclosed earlier in the verse, is the Chicago Sun-Times, which ran a front-page editorial about Chance’s custody issues last year. Listen, I understand feeling attacked by that given its placement. But maybe threatening to destroy another newspaper isn’t the best solution, especially if your goal is to help your city. Don’t you know the difference between editorial and news, Chance? This is a vengeful diss track, written with questionable intentions. Even Pusha wasn’t that mean.
Nothing super-new has piqued my interest, though I am head over heels for the latest release from RVNG Intl., для FOR by Kate NV. It’s a clear and concise record filled with beta melodies and instrumentation, a fresh play on vaporwave (featuring K.K. Slider on vocals). I am also just diving into the experimental jazz and rap scene coming out of New York, led by artists such as MIKE, Standing On The Corner and Medhane. Gritty, heart-wrenching and surreal.
#LoopsIsBack. Who knows for how long?
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