Ok so now I get to talk about rap lyrics. Let’s do this.
This is a song I like a lot called Quality Control by Jurassic 5.
You want to listen to it, maybe just the first 30 seconds or so? Because I want to talk about it.
I wrote out some of the lyrics. There are some pauses in there that if I had to translate to words I would translate as “motherf**ker” or “motherf**king.” I marked these with –.
I think it’s interesting that this makes the lyrics pretty much incoherent, if you added the cursing in. If the cursing was there and you heard it, the fact that it makes no sense should make you wonder whether you are listening to what you think you are.
Hey yo my — quality control
— captivates your party patrol —
Your mind, body, and soul —
For whom the bell tolls
Let the rhythm explode —
Big, bad, and bold
B-boys of old
Many styles we — hold
let the story be told
Whether — platinum or gold
we use — breath control
So let the beat — unfold
intro on — drum roll…
There are some other pauses in there that if I had to translate I would translate as “b*tch” or “f**k.” I marked these with `.
Again, were you to hear these sounds and try to connect them to what is being said, it would not make much sense.
Hey` yo my qua`lity control
ca`ptivates your par`ty patrol
Your` mind, body, and` soul
For` whom` the bell tolls
Let` the rhythm` explode
Big`, bad, and` bold` `
B`-boys` of` old` `
Ma`ny styles we` hold` `
let` the` story be` told` `
Whe`ther` plat`inum` or gold` `
we` use` breath` ` control`
So let` the beat` un`fold` `
in`tro` on drum` roll…
There’s also an emphasis on the first sound in each word, a pretty noticeable extra sound there. I don’t know what any of those sounds might mean, but let’s suppose they’re not that nice.
There’s also an emphasis on the first sound in each word, a pretty noticeable extra sound there. I don’t know what any of those tones might translate to in this scenario, but let’s suppose they’re not that nice.
Hey yo my quality control
captivates your party patrol
Your mind, body, and soul
For whom the bell tolls
Let the rhythm explode
Big, bad, and bold
B–boys of old
Many styles we hold…
Contrast this with what we think of when we say someone talks “smoothly,” an expression that is usually used to describe how people sound when they are lying. Which brings us to
Aren’t you just drawn to Drake’s voice, like there’s something very special about it? I actually remember where I was the first time I heard it. I wanted to pull the car over and stop to listen.
There is something very special about his voice. There are special effects added to emphasize the fact that
Drake can sing and not curse sometimes.
No seriously, Drake can sing and not make any of these curse tones, sometimes.
The first time he goes through the verse, when he drives up and goes into the basketball court, then the store– that has the curse tones.
But the second time, starting from when he gets to the football field, the same words are sung, but without the cursing ‘tones.’
The rest of the song goes back and forth, as far as I can hear.
This is something like a miracle, and I’m not sure how it happened. But his smooth tone and clean intros to words sometimes don’t sound like subliminal cursing. And the comparison makes it easier to spot (although I am not entirely sure I’m not just making up the kind of harsh “tone” at the beginning that I am calling cursing).
And a lot of people imitate Drake now. Not that people shouldn’t make curse “tones” in their speech but it is possible someone could misinterpret them and think you are aggressive. If so you are probably used to it.
Here is a guy who is smoother, but still has these intro sounds on many words. Feel free to watch the whole thing.
Here is a woman who has about zero curse tones when she talks. I like this example because when she talks before the song she’s amazingly smooth, kindof unreal sounding.
She accentuates the opening sound of the words here and there, but mostly eases into each word very smoothly. As soon as I hear her voice I start holding my breath, but that’s just me.
If you have ever wondered why some people like to listen to Bob Dylan sing Bob Dylan songs and other people like to hear the Byrds sing Bob Dylan songs, this could be why LOL. I have heard many times that the Byrds are just “cleaner.” It’s true they keep to the beat more, but definitely there are far fewer of these tones.
I think these curse tones are what made rock-and-roll rock-and-roll, and so controversial, starting with Elvis.
Maybe all these musicians in the US decided one day to add these tones in, back in the sixties, for whatever reason.
I think I prefer them being there. By quite a bit actually.
I don’t know if everyone got the memo that we all sing and talk that way since… 1970 pretty much? Many of us for much longer. So maybe it’s better to learn to be like Drake, so you can have the option to turn it on and off. But I’m keeping mine.
If you want to try not making these curse tones — for Americans it is not normal not to — just for fun:
Hold your breath in your nose, drop your shoulders, and talk like you don’t want anyone to hear what you are saying. Sortof inhale as you speak, like you are trying to take the words back before they go anywhere and make trouble? You know, like you would if you had to say something you really didn’t want to say like “Honey, I hate to tell you this but — I backed your car into your other car… again?”