Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

New Boyz – You’re A Jerk

Their Myspace appears to classify Warner Brothers as being an indie label…


Chuck Eddy: Trying not to get my hopes up too much about jerkin’ — these fleeting oddball local ’00s rap subscenes always come up short in the long run. Bangz and Pink Dollaz tracks I’ve checked out sorta sound great, but also sorta sound like just more obligatory ice-queened sextalk. As for these guyz, suddenly hearing them all the time on Texas hip-hop stations makes the format seem less stagnant than I’d figured. The nerdy presentation and self-flagellation and Schoolly D clankbeats and blipping toward outer space are refreshing. But c’mon, it’s not all that far from what the Cool Kids were being dissed as hipsters for last year — maybe crossed with the Pack, whose ’07 album almost nobody even heard.

Martin Skidmore: You’ll be amazed to hear this from a fifty year old white guy from London, but I am not that up with the latest hip hop crazes. Jerking seems to be one: a crappy-looking dance that at least looks like something I could do (albeit badly). Musically this is very hyphy, kind of like The Pack with a more juvenile rap and an irritating sped-up sample on top. I don’t know if the success of this will lead to more exposure for hyphy: I hope so, but I can’t see the terrifying Keak appealing to the same audience, really.

Anthony Miccio: The sound is classic Ying Yang, the attitude and muttered “I know”s are classic LL. It would need a dash of the unfamiliar to be a classic, but of all the young rappers I’ve heard of late, only these smirky pricks do their asshole forefathers proud.

Jonathan Bradley: As successful as the Game has been in building a career from gangsta nostalgia, he’s also revealed how stagnant hip-hop culture in Southern California has become. The new Los Angeles craze of jerking — trust me, every joke you’re thinking up has already been made — is fascinating because it is quite unlike anything West Coast rap had been known for until this point. Where G-Funk encompassed the pleasures and risks of a hot night in a dangerous city, Jerk sounds like another L.A., a world of endless suburbia, fluorescent-lit shopping malls, and bored teenagers goofing round and showing off. “You’re a Jerk” is cotton-candy light, and just as tasty, with squeaky vocals turning the titular taunt into a dance instruction, and both New Boyz spitting lazy nonsense that culminates with the circuitously illogical, “I’m a jerk, you ain’t never lie/But, hey, do me a favor: Call me jerk one more time.” If things go right for these kids, they’ll be getting called jerks all summer.

Al Shipley: If there’s one thing the endless procession of “A Milli” clones needed to annoy me more, it’s a circa-2005 snap music level of production quality and vocal performances. Great dance rap can often sound low budget and amateurish in a way that’s charming, but there’s a certain point at which stuff like this and “Chicken Noodle Soup” almost sounds too feeble to actually exist.

Andrew Brennan: I don’t dislike the rap and minimal beats, and the group is actually kind of adorable in the video, but the You’re A Jerk sample is so sonically offensive that it makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

Martin Kavka: I have a soft spot for minimalist rap — it sets off the rapper’s artistry better, and there are many more valid ways to dance to it — and the beat for “You’re a Jerk” is basically “Drop It Like It’s Hot” with the word “jerk” making about 200 appearances. So I want to love this. Nevertheless, I’m squicked out by the line “this here for y’all so we gotta keep it separate like the Jim Crow laws.” Will their next single call for the repeal of Loving v. Virginia, which made anti-miscegenation laws illegal?

Michaelangelo Matos: That’s Cartman they’re sampling, right? This cracked me up hard first few times I heard it; having lived with it a little while now, I just find it hypnotic. Plus, “I stay geeked up, never been a retard.” Savor that.

Rodney J. Greene: While the Bay Area never took over the nation like a few other regional rap trends did, hyphy’s hallmarks have diffused throughout the West Coast, with big, round kick drums and discrete found-sounds infecting everything from Seattle to Los Angeles. Probably the most direct successor to that movement is L.A.’s “jerkin'” scene, which has seemingly sprouted and grown within mere months, and consists of mostly suburban 17-year-olds who wear skinny jeans, do a dance which looks in part like the running man in reverse, and make bedroom-born rap songs of dubious sound quality about jerkin’, swag, and cunnilingus. Perhaps most importantly, they post it all on MySpace and YouTube. “You’re a Jerk” is the burgeoning subgenre’s breakout hit, and while I don’t have any great expectations for it, as someone who is always willing to stump for indiginous Left-Coast rap styles, I can’t help hoping that this will have more nation-wide impact than “Tell Me When to Go” did. The New Boyz (and most of the jerkin’ scene) draw from the laptop/minimalist/”Vans” end of the hyphy spectrum, with charmingly amateurish raps over micro-booms. The high-pitched “YOUREAJERK!” vocal snaps provide laughs, a hook, and a raison d’être. The beat is perfect for its associated dance moves. The Boyz’ raps are mumbly but enthusiastic. They switch things at the end, chopping up and repurposing a line from Fabo of D4L’s underground hit “Scotty,” a song which may be as formative to them as anything from NorCal. If we’re lucky, teenagers will save rap again.

19 Responses to “New Boyz – You’re A Jerk”

  1. woulda given this a 9 but i forgot to blurb it. glad that mostly everyone here is on board with the song. i think it’s funny that these guys — and jerk culture in general, there’s a cold flamez song that has a lyric “skinny jeans keep a nigga pistol from a-slipping” — have this hard-ass posture about them even tho they all dress like steve aoki’s hypothetical children. it’s about as good a summation of where rap culture is right now if there is one, come to think of it.

    i love this song tho cuz i think it’s really hard for me to hate brash kids making catchy bedroom/basement music, be it pink dollaz or be your own pet.

  2. this is great and I second Chuck’s mention of Pink Dollaz and The Bangz.

  3. I like that Rodney and I prove that, pace Chuck, some of us did hear the Pack.

  4. I didn’t say almost nobody heard the Pack; I said almost nobody heard their whole album. (Have a feeling their debut EP, which came out in late ’06, got way more attention. Which admittedly was at least in part because it was better.)

  5. I am happy that other people haven’t forgotten “Vans,” though. And I really appreciate the social context for jerkin’ provided in Rodney’s and Jonathan’s posts. Though damn the both of you guys for making me more hopeful for this stuff again than I probably should be.

  6. I knew my pan would be a minority opinion here, but I was hoping to at least be a little more convinced by the other blurbs, which feel like 80% “I like low budget teenage dance rap” and 20% “here is why this is a particularly good low budget teenage dance rap.”

  7. Al, have you ever heard about Baltimore Club music?

  8. Ay Chuck, here I am, the other person on Earth who heard Based Boys.

  9. haha @ Jonathan

  10. I love “Vans” (and “At the Club”), but this one I just found annoying.

  11. I can say with confidence that Kids Who Matter (that is, kids I’m teaching in a summer program) already think jerk is old news (this song, anyway) :(. Also, apparently when I jerk I look more like a chicken or something. Wish I coulda given this a 7-8 to give Al more stuff not to be convinced by.

  12. lol, totally can’t tell if Jonathan was being sarcastic or not

  13. that is a sad fuckin emoticon

  14. Al, if it makes you feel any better, you didn’t remotely unconvince me about this song, either.

  15. blahhhhhhhhhhb

    so funny how it’s “cool” for pasty white critics to like this bullshit

  16. It’s a good song, although it’s awfully hyperbolic to talk about “teenagers [such as these??] saving rap again.” Basically what you’re going to get out of this trend is ten or so decent songs you can play on your iPod for the next few months or so and happily rediscover in the years to come. I’m not sure what could save rap now; probably, as Heidegger once said of the world, only a god could, although the more I listen to Gucci Mane, the better I think of him and the more I quote his lyrics in drunken conversations with my dog, so perhaps some massive artistic development on his part is the answer, as the current version, while fitfully entertaining, sure isn’t capable of saving anything.

  17. Yeah, I know I was hyperbolizing. And my interaction with this trend seems headed on pretty much the path you describe. As far as Gucci Mane goes, I understand on an intellectual level why his fans like him and why he is Interesting and Important and a pretty clever dude, it’s just that I can. not. stand. listening. to. him. at. all. I dunno if that makes me a rapper racist region hater or what (It shouldn’t. I like a whole bunch of Southern rap, including ATL swag rap, although I’m more of a Young Dro guy), but I’ve given him enough several chances and each time realized I’d rather be listening to just about anything else.

    In other news, I just found out I’m a pasty white critic. I learn new things every day.

  18. This is pretty great! A pared-down cheeky sampled strut paired to a dance culture – much of the best rap is written with dance in mind, in my view. [8]

  19. dont you love pasty white critics telling other pasty white critics off for liking… just about anything. all white ppl you are not allowed to enjoy life… just go and kill yourselves now