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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Logic, Growing Pains, Rap Analysis

***As appeared on last week's website e-newsletter***

Sometimes all of you guys on this newsletter just blow me the hell away, you know that?

I’m over here, sitting around, writing about rap, thinking I know what I know. And then one of you send me a song, and it makes me re-think everything, and what I used to know I don’t anymore.

Let me walk you through the entire experience of my first listen to “Growing Pains II.”

So I go to YouTube, and turn it on to get to know it, and immediately begin killing time on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Blogger, YouTube, YouFace, MyBook, wherever. I’m listening, and it’s cool, and I’m letting it sink in, but still thinking, “This isn’t anything I haven’t heard before. I mean it’s really, really good, but still pretty standard.”

And then 3:40 rolls around, and I get knocked on my ass.

I get knocked on my ass because it occurs to me that I’m not even the one person here who’s telling you that Logic’s song is a great one. Arthur gave me such a good song to analyze that he basically did my job for me, haha!

Seriously, by around 3:50 — ten seconds into this part of the song — I know I’m hearing something great. Because it isn’t just that Logic put an extended beat drop here, while still rapping — he put an extended beat drop in here at this point, while rapping…and rapping…and rapping…and still rapping…

Immediately, my mind at this point is racing to connect what Logic’s doing to other examples I might know of. Of course beat drops are classic in Hip Hop — I can right away think of a killer one from Black Thought off the top of my head, where he gives his rap the maximum punch available by inserting his best lines when the spotlight’s all on him: “Thump this in your cassette deck / Hip Hop has not left yet”, time-stamped on YouTube here:

https://youtu.be/3dNkIDPC9UE?t=135

And of course, Lil Wayne has his own greatest one, on “Got Money,” perfectly marrying the beat to the rap and the rap to the beat:

https://youtu.be/crfhQnIv9Jk?t=69

And then there are songs that might be considered just extended beat drops, where the beat never comes in. I’m thinking of Supa Nate’s verse from jail on the OutKast Aquemini album:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71jax17z2Fw

or even Big Noyd’s freestyle on Mobb Deep’s Infamous album, called “[Just Step Prelude]:”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bD1Nlhe1A0

It’s also got me thinking about some Cool Kids beats. There, the beats often drop out, but the exiting beat is simply replaced by a new beat, as different as it might be, like on “Action Figures:”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09HeBs4Fx2w

Lil Wayne’s breakdown on “Let The Beat Build” comes close to doing what Logic did, but the producer only drops Wayne down to the drum instrumental…there’s not as much there, but there is STILL something.

Even Kendrick doesn’t beat Logic to the punch. Kendrick’s outro verse on “The City,” from Game’s R.E.D. Album, is a long, LONG beat drop rap verse, almost 40 seconds long with no beat…but Kendrick never brings the beat back, like Logic does on his own track. You can hear Kendrick’s verse here:

https://youtu.be/9xN_EmhQ4hQ?t=267

This all makes Logic’s own rap verse an extremely interesting mix of musical approaches to structure we’ve seen from rappers in the past. We now have to ask ourselves: is what Logic is doing here no more than a complicated version of a verse? Is it simply a long beat drop? Is it a mini-freestyle, inserted into a larger pop song structure? Let’s try and find out.

On the one hand, someone might want to call Logic’s rap between 3:40 and 4:20 just another verse in the song. However, this particular section of the song is so unique when set against the rest of the song, that I don’t think you can call it a verse. Not only does Logic completely change his flow, he also drops the beat all the way out right behind him. Additionally, Logic raps a cappella here for a very long time, when compared to the other examples we just looked at before: for almost 40 seconds, or 14 bars in musical time.

Actually, this verse’s length isn’t exactly 14 bars — it’s 14 and a half, which is a very unusual length for a verse to be. Logic is able to make this a cappella section end at a relatively awkward stopping point, because he has no beat behind him. This means that he is using a rhythmic approach called rubato, where the music-maker is ever so slightly changing the feel of where the beat is falling behind them:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo_rubato

So, because it’s so different in terms of length, beat structure, and rhythmic approach, I don’t think we can call Logic’s rap at 3:40 just another verse.

I also wouldn’t call it “just” an extended beat drop, because beat drops, as the term is usually used, rely on the beat almost immediately coming back. Out of all the examples I quoted, the beat drop is never longer than 2 bars, including the Lil Wayne and Black Thought examples. Here, the beat exits for over 14 bars!

Instead, I would in the end call this a cappella section at 3:40 a nestled song-within-a-song. Yes, Logic does have the grand, unified “Growing Pain II” idea on this track, that starts and ends the song. But right at 3:40, it’s almost as if Logic has inserted what could be considered a completely new track. Because he has taken the beat out of the mix, and then gone on to rap for so long, this rap version of a musical black sheep feels like a freestyle. We almost forget that there was a chorus before this section, because it feels so very different. There is no chorus connected to this rap here, so just imagine how easy it would be for a talented producer to take his lyrics from here, put them over their own beat, and come up with a dope remix — THAT’S why it is its own song.

Logic led us down this path, by starting off the song very traditionally for the first three and a half minutes. Afterwards, though, he takes us down an unseen left turn road. We saw this before, from Kendrick specifically…but Logic once more surprises us when he brings the beat, unlike Kendrick did. That’s how Logic can actually give us 2 songs, when we think we’re hearing only one.

13 comments:

  1. great post martin!
    joey bada$$ - hardknocks is one of my favorite beat drop songs
    https://youtu.be/Uv658wfVt6I?t=3m22s

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks man! If you hit me up at mepc36@gmail I'd be happy to get back to you with a personalized analysis of that hardknocks song by joey, since you like it so much :)

      Peace bro!

      -Martin

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  2. Love the way you break down the art of rap, in its various styles. Not to get political, but I'd love your thoughts on a rap on Trump I've done.
    Do you give individual feedback?

    Trumpageddon example...
    You walk the walk and no naught on subjects
    & with tongue forked treat women like objects
    You talked and they bought it, they thought that you'd sort it,
    even after you talked about dating your own daughter,
    some kind of messiah, who might walk on water
    They thought they might try it, now like lambs to the slaughter
    we are get'n what we ought-a, forget’n what's important
    America caught snoring as the date is now draw’n
    Now I'm fretting cause it's look’n like he might even get in
    Don't say I didn't warn ya, Welcome Trumpageddon.
    https://youtu.be/oX6eOShKn48

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah man, but it's way too hard to do it here in this awfully-formatted comment section on a site Google no longer supports...if you hit me up at mepc36@gmail I'll get REAL busy with your Trump song, haha. Did you hear the YG diss of Trump, too?

      http://www.rap-up.com/2016/04/26/yg-claims-secret-service-is-watching-him-donald-trump-diss/

      Hope to hear from you!

      Peace,

      Martin

      Delete
  3. Thanks Martin, onto it.
    yeah, heard YG's F'Donald Trump just after I finished mine & thought, damn!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, but also apparently the secret service investigated him after YG dropped that anti-Donald Trump song...so...MAYBE you dodged a bullet? haha

      Still waiting for your email :P lol jk

      Peace bro!

      -Martin

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  4. I did one of those rhyme scheme color codes on a short verse of mine

    I netflix and chill with myself
    With a pill in my mouth
    Just to feel all the thrills that lifes all about
    I shout stout like close to the ground
    It’s oh so profound with this prolific sound
    So I go shittin mounds of this straight brain fluid
    I do it like institutions educating dudes with new shit
    Been through this the crew the dopest to do this shit with the music
    Spittin wide range it’s that acute to obtuse shit
    Jbm we got men on stage
    Who blot pen on stage
    And don't stop till fuckin hip hop gets them paid
    Gotta wet that blade before you sharpen the shit
    This heart never quit like tony starks and all the parts that he gets

    but it looks like the highlights don't translate to the comments, bummer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. who blot pen on page*

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey man how can I reach you? I think you have great knowledge and I would love to get in contact with you so I can learn some shit...cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure man! Hit me up at mepc36@gmail.com.

      And if you want to learn some shit ASAP, check out this live, 1-hour Skype video lesson I just did with a rapper from Vancouver for $35:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnxVhOG3f_0

      Thanks man!

      Peace,

      Martin

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