Friday, October 23, 2015
Drake - "Hotline Bling"
Since Drake debuted the song on OVO Sound's Beats 1 radio show in late July, the track has proved to be a smash hit. "Hotline Bling" recently climbed to Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100, which makes it Drake's second-biggest pop hit to date, almost pushing him towards his first-ever Number One hit. The track has often been called a remix of the rapper D.R.A.M.'s tropical "Cha Cha." While Drake has never confirmed that "Hotline Bling" is a remix of "Cha Cha," the song does contain a sped-up sample of Timmy Thomas' "Why Can't We Live Together."
"Hotline Bling" has also become a popular track to cover for other artists. Everyone from Nick Jonas to Erykah Badu have either covered the song live or recorded it to distribute online. Badu's remix in particular reimagines the song from her perspective and interpolates not only her own single "On and On" but her ex-boyfriend Andre 3000's hit "Ms. Jackson" as well.
In today's pop world, the true measure of a song's impact is how many tributes it inspires — vines, dance routines, covers, memes — and "Hotline Bling" is a runaway success by this standard, as well. The track has spawned numerous alternate renditions and remixes (including Seth Everman's wacky Nintendo-fied take).
On the track, Iman Shumpert raps about his new contract, his flair for flashy plays ("I know they love that highlight reel/That's why they focus on the Jumbotron"), and the Cavaliers' painful loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers guard is no stranger to the rap game. Heading into the playoffs last season, he recorded "The Offs" for the quest to end Cleveland's championship drought – but alas, the team came up short. He released another track soon after inking a $40-million deal to stay with the Cavaliers in the offseason, this time about life back in Chicago and the downside of having millions to one's name. And, unlike essentially every other NBA player who ever fancied himself a rapper, Shump actually belongs in the booth.
Producers BC Kingdom and Jonny dispense with Drake's treacly organ sample in favor of a minimal series of steel-drum-like blobs. These combine with Mila J's vocals — husky when they're low, breathy when they're high — to give the song an unexpected sensuality. This version sounds more like a come-on than an expression of angst: a notable transformation.
Badu is probably the most unexpected artist to enter the "Hotline Bling" fray: Most of her competitors are young singers looking for an easy way to generate additional interest. Badu comes at "Hotline Bling" from her typically idiosyncratic perspective -- "you used to call me on your cell-u-lar device at night." She then interpolates one of her first hits, "On and On," and sneaks in a reference to her ex-boyfriend Andre 3000's work in Outkast ("forever ever?").