[Ed Note: Welcome back to Please Jam. This week, we're showing some love, and some hate, to the songs that dominated the Summer of 2013]
Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and T.I. – "Blurred Lines"
VINCE: This was all about the visuals. Once women saw the kinky ad for the Beats Pill, it was a wrap. Next thing you know life was imitating art. You notice how women switched the vibe up when this came on at a party — I don’t care if it was at a loft, dive, rooftop, venue or club (I only went to one club this summer and it sucked pterodactyl eggs).
Fam came under some heat because he, Pharrell and T.I. pre-sued the Marvin Gaye family to preempt the Gayes taking those dudes to the shed over their “reinterpretation” of “Gotta Give It Up.” I’m sorry, but when the drums, keys, vocal adlibs, singing pitch and so much is borrowed heavily from a well known song, then YOU GOTTA GIVE IT UP!!! Pay that family, folks. Otherwise, go reinterpret a Neville Brothers song and see if the milkshakes make it to the yard. Thicke better be so glad that he had Pharrell as the outfront co-signer here, otherwise I’d have BEEN wrote a 2,000-word rant about my favorite subject of music arts: white appropriation of black culture. He’s good, though. Well played, Thicke. He was too jammin’ on this one. And shoutout to Tip for getting his nouveau-Sammy Davis on in the video.
JAMES: I agree with you on all points here. The only shame of this song is that I’ve heard it 1,000 times. Now, I understand that songs getting played out is a part of the business, but I’ve never been more disappointed in how fast a track has been killed to my ears than with “Blurred Lines,” though “Get Lucky” is getting close as well. We’re approaching the apex of the radio consolidation movement and it’s murder rate is at an all-time high.
Daft Punk ft. Pharrell – "Get Lucky"
VINCE: When an ad for the new Daft Punk album appeared during the NBA Finals — featuring a snippet of the video for this song — I had a feeling it would be a hit, but not a SMASH. You could not get away from this song, this summer. The only time it seemed like it wasn’t playing was when “Blurred Lines” was playing. Each song owes much to Pharrell, but they owe more to white girls that wanna dance. Between “Get Lucky,” “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus, this was the summer of the white girl. Seriously. Last summer it was “N*ggas In Paris,” “Mercy,” “Meek Mill’s “Amen” — a much different vibe. Ten years from now, though, if I hear any of these songs, I’ll think “Man…white girls were having fun in 2013.”
JAMES: No way, this is the summer of Pharrell. Actually, it’s the year of Pharrell, at least in pop culture’s eyes (because, let’s face it, there are probably 5 years that could be classified that way given how many artists work with Skateboard P). He’s on this track, the actual best song from Random Access Memories, “Lose Yourself To Dance,” produced Mayer Hawthorne’s excellent album, worked on Hov’s MCHG, starred in a kids movie, released a song for that too, and is on the song below, which he knocked out in 30 minutes. He even did a mixtape for Ray Lewis. He’s even teamed up with Quarterly to send his fans out some of his favorite things a few times a year.
But yeah, this song is a jam. Blazing new territory, different sounds, perfected by Pharrell. Oh, and an incredible backstory.
Jay Z ft. Rick Ross – "F*ckwithmeyouknowIgotit"
VINCE: Much like “N*ggas in Paris,” I knew this would be the banger off the album. The one blaring out of SUV windows on Lenox Ave. Timbo laid down the classic club bounce track — the bass and snare kick get you in that smirk-face shoulder-bop mode. Or as Ross said, “I don’t bop, I do the money dance.” He also said if money talks, he “speaks fluent, n*gga.” Or did he mean that he speaks “fluent n*gga.” Who knows? It was a cold line on a cold tune. This is a VIP max joint. The song isn’t about anything other unfathomable excess, so how else are you supposed to vibe when this drops? Like a boss, silly.
JAMES: As soon as this bass hit my earphones I sat straight up at attention. Songs with Ross tend to have that effect, but there hasn’t been one quite like this in 2013. It was immediately my favorite track from MCHG and that hasn’t changed. There are so many songs about this exact theme these days yet these two icons swoop in and not only find another way of doing it, but find the best way of doing it. “F*ckwithmeyouknowIgotit.” Simple, effective, and just crass enough for 2013. Oh, and it was also the theme song for a massive blackjack heater a few weeks ago. Appreciate that, Ross.
Side note: Did they release an edited version to this track? If not, I assume that’s why it hasn’t been killed yet.
DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Rick Ross and Lil' Wayne – "No New Friends"
JAMES: I don’t know where to start with this. It’s one of the most DJ Khaled tracks I’ve ever heard. From what I understand, Drake gave it to Khaled for his album, probably because he also recognized this fact. It could definitely have a spot on Kiss The Ring, which, I guess, means his next effort will probably be very similar (but that’s the MO these days, right? 2 Chainz, MMG, Wayne…all staying in their lane and refusing to branch out).
Anyway, since it fits such a model, I’m not really digging it. I don’t really like the concept, though perhaps that’s because I’m not famous and don’t have fake people coming at me all the time. But we’re in a more open era, and this is diametrically opposed to that. Not that I’m reading too much into a track with Drake, Ross and Wayne on another essentially meaningless album featuring heavy bass, hyperbole and an unspoken but not unobserved “we’re better than you” attitude…you get what you pay for. It’s just that everyone on the track is capable of better, and that’s how I felt about Kiss The Ring. Couple hot tracks, few tracks that will contribute to the depressing demise of radio that will eventually lead to bad decisions on drunken evenings, and that’s a wrap.
VINCE: The DJ Khaled/Drake/Rick Ross/Lil Wayne quartet is a summer monster. Two years ago this time there was no song banging harder out there than "I'm On One." (James: I totally forgot about that song! That’s probably a major contributing factor to my shoulder shrug on this one…it’s been done before, better.) It featured these same four cats doing the same thing — rockin' the summer. And, actually, I'd be remiss not to make this a quintet and add Noah "40" to the crew, since it's his production "hand" in the studio that lays the foundation for both tracks. "No New Friends" is now a hashtag. It also stands alone from it's radio-rap peers in the summer of 2013, French Montana's "Ain't Worried" and A$AP Ferg's "Shabba." It's raps three biggest stars (if you, like me, contend Kanye and Jay Z are now just legit pop stars [James: I’d put Wayne in that category too, at this point]) rhyming about the lush life over a lush track doing to summer what they do to summer. I'm not the hugest fan of this track, but I can't deny it either.
Disclosure – "Defeated No More"
Washed Out – "Don't Give Up"
Durag Dynasty – "Trailer Mix"
VINCE: I had to get in some of the joints I rocked hard from the NBA Finals on through Labor Day. I find that the dopest non-mainstream hip-hop is dropped for winter, spring and fall consumption. The days of “Breakdawn” and “Ice Cream” and “I’m Not A Player” or “Definition”…or “Slow Down” … I could go on, but, at any rate, they don’t come out in time for summer as much anymore. The rapper with the illest joints this summer was probably A$AP Ferg with the “Work (remix)” and “Shabba.” For my money, though, “Defeated No More” and “Don’t Give Up” will probably bring me the fondest 2013 summer memories. Settle is one of my five favorite albums of the year, a deep house joint with dance funk that is like a Hellman’s mayo tub full of ebola. Dubstep will never EVER be able to rock with house and I’ll probably write more about this in December when we review the best albums. And my man Washed Out is just a slick chillwave merchant topped only by Toro Y Moi, right now. I listened to “Don’t Give Up” at dusk on my balcony a lot. But we couldn't publish the summer jams edition of PJ without some real hip-hop, which is why I threw in “Trailer Mix.” Durag Dynasty is basically a crew of what I like to call onslaught-emcees. They just come at you with weapons of mass. When Planet Asia (one third of Durag) wants to get slick, he can get slick. His verse here was all space, swag and charis'. I bumped this on my walks through the hood. Can’t bump Robin freakin’ Thicke walking into a sweaty bodega at 3 a.m. for a hero.
JAMES: I’m six seconds into “Defeated No More” and I’m hearing electronic music, so I don’t know what you’ve done with the Vince I used to know, but you can stay around. (Vince note: I have tons of electronic music. I hate that molly-poppin dubstep these youngster love. Big difference.) I had no idea you were into House music. (Native Toungue's hip-hop was heavy with house-influence.) That’s definitely something we share. I used to have a German roommate at school who just had DVDs on DVDs of House music. I probably can’t name 10 genuine House artists but I have a lot of beat recognition stored somewhere in my mind (…college!).
I agree with you on the House/Dubstep comparison, however your utter disdain is a generational thing, I believe. I wasn’t a big fan either until I wound up in a warehouse in New Orleans listening to Rusko melt my face off. It was insane, so it gets a solid amount of respect in my book.
I’m disappointed you didn’t go with “Shabba” for the editor’s pick. I had hopes you might. With that said, I’m always excited to get exposed to something new, and this Durag Dynasty is on-point.