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The endorsement rap

3 Jul 10 | Re: Talking over pop songs

Let’s talk about guest raps. Most rappers these days have two outlets for their vocal talents: their own records, and other people’s. Guest raps are so common now that I’m starting to spot different types and put them into categories.

The UK’s current number one, California Gurls by Katy Perry, has a guest rap on it by Snoop Dogg that to my mind is part of a growing trend: the guest rap as endorsement. What I mean is that Snoop doesn’t add a lot to the track from a musical point of view - by the time he comes in two thirds of the way through, you’ve already decided whether you like the song or not, and there’s not enough to his bit to change anyone’s mind. But his presence is still valuable, because the simple fact that he is there makes you take more notice; he lends the track his reputation. We all know that pop is about image as well as music, and Snoop adds greatly to the image aspect of the track, and so makes it a much more successful pop song.

Snoop isn’t the only rapper who does a good guest-rap-endorsement - think of Li'l Wayne on the Jay Sean track, or Jay-z’s magisterial preface to Rihanna’s Umbrella, or Missy Elliot with numerous artists - but he’s one of the masters of the art. There’s something in his voice that makes even his most insubstantial statements sound incredibly important, so that on the radio the other songs sound like the support act and his sounds like the headliner. (It’s called charisma.) That’s why he was a clever choice of guest for the introductory song on everyone’s favourite Handsome Boy Modeling School tribute act Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach album - when Snoop’s voice comes in, you know that this album is an event, and you pay that much more attention to the tracks that follow.

Posted by CJ at 12:38

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