All the above

I don’t particularly like Tpain. There’s something vaguely annoying about him and Lil Wayne and Lil Romeo and Lil Bow Wow and anyone with Lil initial in their stage name. Never mind that my own stage name is CB … and that this is a classic case of kettles and pots and lack of colour *grin* The point is, I don’t much like Tpain.

But when I heard this song some months back, I liked it. I didn’t know anything about it except that it had Tpain and there was a word in it that sounded like ‘love’. I was trying to tell my brother about it, since we share DNA and a mutual disaffection for Tpain.

I have Musical OCD. I get a song into my head and play it over and over and over until, well, until I don’t want to play it over and over and over. My song of the week is this one.

All the above by Maino ft Tpain

Released: February 17, 2009
Recorded: 2009
Genre: Hip hop
Length: 5:19
Label: Atlantic
Producer: Just Blaze and Nard & B

I haven’t been this excited since I discovered Rihanna’s Umbrella and Justin’s What goes around.

Being me, I played the song in the background about fifty times before I started to wonder exactly what it was about the song that made me like it so much. So I sat up and actually listened to it. I got lifted, literally, and I can’t stop smiling. This song is like 6 months old, I first heard it around May, and it’s getting lots of airplay here, so I’m wondering why nobody seems to know in +254.

There’s lots of things I like about it. One, it’s music, as in actual music, like Alicia keyes or Coldplay type music. When I say music, I mean notes and tunes and motifs.

Like, for example, if you listen to Alicia Keyes’ Kharma, you will hear that when she sings “what goes around comes around” the music actually does a round. You can almost see it spin.

And when she says “what goes up must come down”, the music follows. Listen and to it again and you’ll see what I mean. The effect is called … well I forget what’s it’s called … tonal painting, I think, that sounds vaguely familiar from all those lessons with Waks. Also there was a word like mellisma in there somewhere, but I forget.

Another example of ‘music’ is Swallowed in the Sea by Coldplay. I have no idea what that song is about, but it is so rich and evocative and layered that every time you listen to it, you hear something new. You will catch some new beat or sound or instrument that you hadn’t heard before. It’s haunting, absorbing, and utterly beautiful.

Anyway, this song has that same quality of music. It’s layered. It starts with this staccato violin theme for eight bars or so, then you hear a keyboard, possibly a clavinova or some kind of electric piano. Then you hear the same keyboard theme [hehehe tune] but an octave lower.

Then you get to the hook and the drums come in, beautifully syncopated and reminiscent of Timbaland. It’s at that point that I checked for the producer’s name. No, it’s not Timba.

As the song goes on, the layers are alternated so that sometimes you hear all four layers, sometimes only three or two, and every few bars you catch variations of the main motif or one-off mini-ideas.

There’s even an ornament somewhere in verse three. It’s like some kind of modern-day fugue! I’m guessing this Just Blaze guy is classically trained. It’s amazing!! I think this track [i.e the background music, not the lyrics themselves] is the kind of thing Mozart or Haydn would come up with if they were reincarnated at Atlantic Records and restricted to four minutes.

At the end it’s  got some electric guitar riff that gives the song an almost rockish feel, excuse for some air guitar if the air drums don’t already have you high. I notice a lot of hip hop artists are using this, right from Luda’s Rock Star to Lil Wayne & that Kevin guy’s Let it Rock. I’m thinking maybe rock is in now?

I also like the way they play around with the vocals, with these soulful chanty harmonies. I like chants. I’m actually partial to anything that lets me yodel along. Case in point:

  • Alanis [almost all her songs have a chanterlude]
  • Jewel [who will saa-aave your soul]
  • That Rihanna-TI song [live your life aaaay-aaaay-aaay]
  • Umbrella [-ella-ella-aay-aay-aay]
  • Bon Jovi [have a nice daa-aa-aay]
  • etc etc etc

The lyrics are pretty cool, with Tpain playing Mr Lenny, and some clever rhyming by Maino. It’s got those lines that I like so much and use so often –

When you look at me, what do you see?

I’m on a mission to fulfil my destiny [paraphrase]

There’s some accapella towards the end that is just whoa, if you like that kind of thing. The miracle baby line made me giggle, and the acca-mphasis on “When I think that I can’t, I envision Obama” made me smile. My favourite line is “the new benz is all white, call him John McCain.” Classic!

AND it’s all clean!!!

I can’t believe I’m writing so much about a song.

Oh well, next target, Deliverance by Bubba Sparxxxxxxxx [how many x-es is that name supposed to have?]

Twende kazi.

For more information on 3CB, click here.

6 Responses. Yay! I like it when you talk back ... to “All the above”

  1. gal, you so good in picking sounds and bits and pieces. I like falling on my couch and just dissecting bits and pieces of music being played….starting with orchestra…mmmmh…..

    force of habit, i minored in music from nurso to campus 😉

    am off to pick my ear phones

  2. savvy says:

    People know about it in +254, I know it and I love it, and I googled the lyrics till I know the song offhead. The reason I like it is because it’s a hiphop song without bitches, hos and actually has meaning.

    yep, the hygiene did it for me too 😉

  3. savvy says:

    As for me..all I can pick out of coldplay and other good rock is the guitar, piano, the drums (duh)…meaning I don’t know much about music but I can tell quality music when I hear it.

    hehehe, we had to pick out individual instruments from music for a course in campus, it kind of stuck with me 🙂

  4. ---Supreme-G.R.E.A.M--- says:

    i have heard the tpain maino song but never been keen on it coz it aint my kind of hip hop. i burry myself into underground stuff. just blaze is old in the game one track that he did n it stuck into my head was oh-boy – by camron. not that it was my kind of hiphop but coz of the cologne oh-boy. in the song you can pick out sounds like you have done with this one. most hip hop beats are made by picking a sound here another there. you can combine a beethoven with an isaac hayes add a dhol and some frog croack, cricket sound n u good to go but you have to have the talent of timba, blaze, dre or dj premier to make it beautiful.

    i find that Cameron song rather annoying actually, but it’s one of those songs you can’t stop squeaking! It’s like ‘i kissed a girl’

  5. Awesome post! You have a great blog, absolutely the best Ive read so far. I will be looking forward to your next entry. Thanks again.

  6. Coldplay are so amazing. I still get chills down my spine every time I hear “Fix You”.

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