Took me a while just to write those..."
Wordplay-le, better known as Wale, strikes again with his More About Nothing mixtape. In the last few years, artists like Lil Wayne, Jeezy, Gucci Mane & Drake have saturated the market with mixtapes. For a lot of fans, these tracks provide some new music to tide them over until their next album is released. As a New York transplant I see mixtapes a little differently.
I remember listening to mixtape tracks on NY radio stations when I was growing up. I never knew at the time that mixtapes were any different than albums but I did know that I was listening to some songs that most people around the country were not exposed to. My favorites when I was in high school were The Grey Album (produced by Danger Mouse with lyrics from Jay-Z's The Black Album and beats from The Beatles' The White Album) and The G Unit mixtapes (yes, they used to be talented).
I love the idea of a mixtape. An artist puts out their music that is often more lyrically potent than a commercial LP with beats that have better production value or beats borrowed from other artists. Its a win for the artist because they get to build up their popularity and are still able to perform these songs without the release of a studio album. Its a win for the fans because the music is free! To me, its just like blogging. A writer blogs to get their thoughts out into the universe without worrying about being 'commercial enough' for their consumers to buy their work. The writer does not need to try to please an editor/publisher/literary agent to get their work read. However if your content is any good, a blog can help you get a book deal or have more interest from ur readers, much like a good mixtape can lead to better distribution deals, playing bigger shows, and a wider fanbase.
So as I was listening to Wale's 2nd Seinfeld-entitled mixtape (if you haven't checked out The Mixtape About Nothing, you are missing out) I fell in love with the lyrics to The Break Up Song. I have enlisted my dear friend Justin (also known as T. Drake), a fellow NY transplant and resident music expert, to help me analyze what Mr. Folarin is trying to tell us in this song:
YouTube: Wale - The Break Up Song
When “All I Do” comes in as the melody, you already know this is either going to be a tight track or it’s going to flop stupid hard. To each their own…it was tight to me. Let’s take an overall look at this… from the Seinfeld snippet, to the sample, to the lyrics…the track is complete.
For those of you who don’t know “All I Do”, the one sampled for this mixtape is the Stevie Wonder version. The ORIGINAL original was done by the Jackson 5 and a cover done by Troop.
YouTube: Stevie Wonder - All I Do
YouTube: Jackson 5 - All I Do Is Think Of You
YouTube: Troop - All I Do Is Think Of You
That’s the ancestry of the track…the part sampled goes lyrically as such: “All I doo…is think about yooou”…which makes its use in “The Breakup Song” quite tactful. Tactful to the point that the beat/instrumental/musical production (whatever you want to call it) represents the subconscious and the lyrics represent the thoughts… In representing thoughts…simplicity is ESSENTIAL for this track! First line “See, Breaking up is hard, to move along is even harder.” It’s real life. Breakups that have emotional ties to them tend to cut past all the life learned complexities of thought and cut to the core of emotions. From there the track continues to delve into the emotional stresses on an individual level as well as the “post breakup” interaction. The lyrical recollection of thoughts is not only something personal to Wale (see 1:05 of track) but also applicable to individuals. The train of thought of this post breakup mentality touches the “essential” thoughts: “wonder who they’re sleeping with”, “we still be friends, right”, “we really shouldn’t but…” things that resonate.
There's so many songs, poems, and stories about breaking up. This one hits me personally. As Justin mentioned, the lyrics are simple. Breaking up can suck. You always think it will turn out differently. Post break up, you still wonder about the other person. Its unavoidable and it creeps up on us just like Kramer randomly busting into Jerry's apartment after a long day. Wale captures it honestly in The Break Up Song and for that I appreciate him.
If you aren't already a Wale fan, check out his mixtapes and of course his album: Attention Deficit.
Leave a comment if you can relate to Wale's expressions in The Break Up Song. Or leave a comment about your favorite Wale lyrics.
Big thanks to Justin for your breakdown of the lyrics. Check out more from him on The Heroes! Blog or his personal blog Phlocaine.
"Thought this was forever love,
Guess it was just seasonal..."