Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Sway – Mercedes Benz

He’s still waiting for his great leap forward…


Anthony Miccio: Are old school beats the thing in England right now? Because if this and Lethal Bizzle’s “Go Hard” are part of a larger trend, then I need to investigate. Sway’s voice is a little too hushed to own this manic samplefest – imagine De La Soul trying to pull off the second half of The Beasties’ “The Sounds Of Science” – making his lyrics hit rather than detonate. But they’re very palpable hits.

Michaelangelo Matos: Are the British having this ’88-rap revival because the U.S. dropped the ball last year after a couple R&B remixes? Good for them if so, though Sway’s confident flow and “The 900 Number” break aren’t the reason this is memorable. It’s the least ’88-like touch: the woman drawling about getting money-money with a voice and intonation so flat and arresting it makes everything else seem like a set-up for it.

Martin Skidmore: Sway carries it off with brio and brightness. I think he’s one of the very best rappers the UK has produced, and this is very enjoyable.

Alfred Soto: Despite the faint stench of early nineties Brit-hop (think Stereo MC’s), the flow has snap, and the samples and scratches integrated with precision. This is big, dumb, and luxurious in a non-vulgar way — like a Mercedes.

Chuck Eddy: “F Ur X,” Sway’s humorous “MyBabyDaddy”-without-a-baby gender-battle grime-rap with $tush, made my top 10 singles list last year. This one is obviously more average and less indelible, but he’s still got amiable around-the-way-girl voices helping him out, and that foolproof and once-ubiquitious (but where?) late ’80s sample underneath. Plus words about a car, and Batman scatting, and an accent like the new Slick Rick.

Edward Okulicz: To think that a few years ago Sway was talented, interesting and made great tracks, often making witty and inventive use of samples and yet now his big lead single sounds like I could have made it. It’s a testament to the source sample that it still sounds great underneath everything, but compare it to its source, or even DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat”, and it becomes even more clear that Sway himself and his silly “big Mercedes Benz” vocal samples on top of it have a subtractive rather than additive effect. Complete shit, sorry.

Rodney J. Greene: Sway isn’t quite as goofy or affable as the “900 Number” sax loop he rhymes over, but enough so that I can overlook his opening “party”/”Bacardi” couplet and head straight for his later “bananana”/”Canadada”.

Ian Mathers: Sway remains the best thing about his singles, even if this isn’t quite as clever or funny (or as free of product placement) as his best material. But the production is solid and he’s got what sounds like the announcer of a 70s car commercial to help him with the hook, so it’s hard to mind too much.

Alex Ostroff: Back in 2005, Sway was the best chance the UK had of a bonafide cross-over rapper. Likeable, unpredictable and hilarious, Sway’s mixtapes & first album were permanent fixtures. Since then, he’s gone a bit limp. “Mercedes Benz” has a few nice moments (“stay hot like Ghananana, with the flow stay cold like Canadada… just like Batman dananananana”) but nothing half as audacious as his “Thief’s Theme” freestyle (where he kidnaps Kelis, and pins it on Jay-Z!). The sax riff is suitably ass-shaking, though, and, in combination with the cheeky hook-girls, gives this a nice throwback feel.

7 Responses to “Sway – Mercedes Benz”

  1. Matos, the reason the U.S. isn’t having an ’88-rap revival now is because we had it in 2002.

  2. Oh, and Miccio, there’s also Dizzee Rascal’s “Pussy’ole” from a couple years back, which apparently is not supposed to be as vulgar as it sounds to American ears.

  3. OK, I’ll bite: what did the ’88-rap revival in 2002 consist of?

  4. Well, Blueprint actually put out an album called 1988, and I vaguely recall people talking about it being part of a trend when that came out, but that wasn’t unil 2005. Pretty fuzzy on 2002’s 1988 revival myself, gotta say.

  5. All that’s coming to mind are the old-school references on Missy Elliott’s Under Construction.

  6. I’m not saying it all happened that year, but that’s when it started. Seems to have tapered off by around ’05 or so. Under Construction, “Made You Look”, “Grindin'” (86-rap but same point), a bunch of stuff on Roc-a-Fella (Young Gunz’ “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” and “Friday Night”, along with Beanie Sigel/ODB’s “When You Hear That” and Memphis Bleak/Jay-Z’s “1, 2 Y’all” pop to mind immediately), and the underground rap show I listened to religiously at that time on Vancouver’s hiphop station was playing tons of stuff built on classic or newly discovered breaks 2002-2004 (I’d guess you’d probably hear more 90s-type boom-bap beats on that show now)

  7. Just found another new 88-britrap track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCbLt2ZtRao