Friday, August 20th, 2021

Soso Maness ft. PLK – Petrouchka

Hello and welcome to TSJ: Tombé, Sauté, Jeté


Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Well this is an odd clusterfuck, isn’t it? Undoubtedly one of the French hits of the summer, “Petrouchka” (no relation to Stravinsky’s Petrushka) finds two rappers curiously interpolating Ivan Petrovitch Larionov’s 1860 Russian folklore hit “Kalinka.” And while it’s easy to mistake “Kalinka” for the name of a woman, the original is actually an ode to a particular type of Russian berry, supposedly written in a capture-the-zeitgeist way that spoke at once to sadness and playfulness in the 19th century. (If only I were Russian and of a particular generation to be able to verify this.) Inspired by Marseille beating Paris Saint Germain at Parc des Princes, Soso Maness — one of the Algerian-Marseillais rappers from the smash “Bande Organisé” which took over the French charts for 11 consecutive weeks last year — decided to hop on a track with French-Polish rapper PLK to celebrate. Which is all to say: “Petrouchka,” whose lyrics are all about selling drugs, having fancy cars, and drinking vodka, sounds exactly like a French club track that would hype up crowds at a soccer stadium, all while respecting the cadence of a century-old Russian hit about berries. It somehow sounds completely natural, while also like a spasmodic, incoherent mess — but one with an undeniable joie de vivre, non?

Ian Mathers: Did I know I wanted French rap that makes me feel like I should be doing a Hopak (were I still limber enough)? I did not. That’s just one of the nice surprises pop music can give you.

Michael Hong: It seems counterintuitive, the way the hook lands right where the momentum drops, but “Petrouchka” uses the split to create an immersive experience. As the pair egg each other on, they lighten the production while gradually building back the tempo, until you find yourself chanting with them, once again wholly engrossed in the center of their dance-rap.

Mark Sinker: Petrushka — a Bakhtinian mash-up of Pierrot-Harlequin follies with Punch-and-Judy darkness, set at a rural fair, and in the end the puppeteer also gets it — is my favourite Stravinsky bcz it was also my first: a late ’60s xmas or bday present from mum and dad of the 1947 Antal Doráti reading, which I played a LOT as a teenager! It’s a carnival-riot of overlapping tunes! The only tune here is not one of them! Instead it’s the chorus of “Kalinka”, which is like being slapped in the face by a semiotician screaming “what does Russia mean to you?” — and the theme instead is that everything is forever theatre, soldiers and politicians and gangsters and rappers and ballet-dancers and you, all just puppets in fantastic masks and costumes, Scarface in Narnia, the play’s the thing, it all just blurs in. There is a raspberry in the garden, my raspberry! Oh you! Beauty, soul maiden!

Harlan Talib Ockey: Stravinsky’s Petrushka is some Certified Weird Shit about puppets, so it’s a little disappointing that this is just pedestrian Scarface posturing. The hook is, objectively, a banger — just listen to those bass hits — but it’s still odd that Maness and producer Junior Alaprod chose not to dig any further into the subject matter than random shoutouts to vodka and Putin. Maness and PLK’s flows aren’t particularly distinctive, but there’s some impressive quick-fire assonance and internal rhyme in here that bounces deftly off the production. Fine, have a decent score. Make sure we get the puppets next time, though.

Tim de Reuse: The tempo cratering at the beginning of every chorus lends a strange menace to what would otherwise be a lazy, sparse hook; the tongue-twister that PLK rattles off at the end of his verse manages to shock a little life into what would otherwise be dull braggadocio. It’s silly, but it’s the best possible version of itself.

Reader average: [1] (8 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

One Response to “Soso Maness ft. PLK – Petrouchka”


Leave a Reply