“For the Ladies”

N’Tyce feat. Method Man – Hush Hush Tip

“Oh my god. An affair. It’s so adult. It’s like with stockings and martinis and William Holden. On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t cost me any money.”
-George Costanza

Since we’re discussing the ways in which music can open up new worlds of adult understanding to younger generations, I feel like one of the more titillating musical revelations of my youth involved the forbidden temptations of straying. I know anyone who was on the verge of hitting puberty around the time the “Creep” video arrived knows what I’m talking about. Although hip-hop was the most social music I had encountered — rap lyrics became the lingua franca of misbehaving in junior high hallways — late night rap radio was also my private, secret world, explaining the forbidden in frank terms. The radio on my walkman was a window into a world I knew existed but didn’t understand. One of my favorites at the time was N’Tyce’s “Hush Hush Tip,” which I remember seemed impossibly sexual. It became such a touchpoint for me that I’m certain I would holler at N’Tyce if I met her even today.

“Hush Hush Tip” was, ironically, the first song I thought of when I heard my favorite rap single of 2011, Schoolboy Q’s “Fantasy” with Jhene Aiko, and not just because of the rare hip-hop trumpet sample. “Fantasy” is about prurient intimacy rather than cheating per se, but in some ways this makes it feel even more grown up, more Sade-esque; when you’re younger, I think it’s fairly common to treat relationships like a sort of emotional bumper cars; a big part of maturing is recognizing the power we do have over other people, how thrilling putting yourself on the line like that can be. It is not music for the cautious; contained within “Fantasy”‘s groove is the same feeling of risk and potential reward, ego and attraction wound up in a mysterious cocktail. It’s about confidence (notice that Schoolboy Q’s cockiness is just one ingredient in the song’s overall mood) and fear, sexuality’s central tension between control and surrender.

Schoolboy Q – Fantasy feat. JHene Aiko

If I have to give Drake credit for anything, it’s moving the center of gravity in hip-hop towards a stoned atmospheric for-the-ladies sound. His version of it might be solipsistic and pandering, but I can’t fault him for wanting to be hip-hop’s Sade, which is a worthy enough goal if you have the chops for it. “Fantasy” feels like a much more successful approximation of Sade-esque sensuality because of that murky groove, courtesy Swedish beatmaker Tommy Black. Although it uses the old distorted, crackling vinyl sample, the actual production is enveloping and modern; it reminds me of Dilla only in the abstract rhythmic sense, its subtle use of the four-on-the-floor a sensuous challenge to less agile attempts to replicate sexuality.

2 responses to ““For the Ladies”

  1. Pingback: I got a promotion | we eat so many shrimp

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