Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9: Young M.C., "Bust A Move"

Artist: Young M.C.
Song: "Bust A Move"
Album: Stone Cold Rhymin'
Year: 1989

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Throughout the history of recorded music, eras have been marked by iconic guitar riffs, amazing voices, and innovative musical creation.  Those responsible for these moments stand among the most idolized figures in music history, and one cannot picture a world in which they did not exist.  Often times, these musical achievements bled into society in general, and the song not only serves as a marker in music history, but in the overall history of music itself.  Whether it was the image of The Beatles, the urgency within the music of The Ramones, or the stunning progressions laid down by Coltrane, these musical giants ushered in new views on music, as well as showing that culture was evolving.  Yet in one case, an entire genre and perhaps a generation was defined in two simple words: "bust it."  Even more than twenty years after these words were captured in a Los Angeles studio, it remains beyond iconic, and the world of hip-hop would not have reached its current form had it not been for the work of the one and only, Young M.C.  Perfectly fusing together the rhyming power of hip-hop with a pop sensibility that had never before been heard, his entire 1989 debut, Stone Cold Rhymin', remains one of the high-water marks in the genre, and the album serves as proof that swear words and heavy bass are simply not needed in order to make a hip-hop classic.  Influencing nearly every artist in the history of the genre, the song contains a number of cameos from artists who would find later fame, and from the unforgettable lyrics to the infectious music over which they are delivered, there are few songs as iconic as Young M.C.'s 1989 hit single, "Bust A Move."

At its core, "Bust A Move" is as "basic" a hip-hop song as one will find anywhere.  Mixing together live instrumentation with a sampled break-beat, the amount of upbeat energy that comes from the track is truly unlike any other recording in the history of the genre.  Produced by Matt Dike and Michael Ross, the song revolves around a pair of samples from Ballin' Jack's, "Found A Child" and Dennis Coffey's, "Scorpio."  Truth be told, there is also a sample of Bette Midler's, "Daytime Hustler" at play on the track, and its inclusion shows the wide range of musical knowledge that the production team had at their disposal.  Remaining one of the best pieces of music trivia in history, the live bass that is on "Bust A Move" was in fact played by none other than Flea, and he also made a brief appearance in the music video for the song.  The manner with which the guitar hops across the track gives "Bust A Move" an unparalleled groove, and this aspect works in perfect harmony with the speed and style of Young M.C.'s rhyming cadence.  The beats hit just hard enough to keep the listeners' head bobbing, yet they never interfere with or overpower any other aspect of the track; a trait that seems to have been lost over the decades.  Though the song is moving into its third decade of existence, the music has rarely been topped in that time, as Young M.C. and his team managed to make an extraordinarily catchy musical composition, and the song cracked the top ten on the singles charts, quickly becoming a staple of dance clubs and parties across the globe. 

While the music of "Bust A Move" is absolutely unmistakable, it is easily surpassed in both sound and substance by the vocal work of the man known as Marvin Young, Young M.C.  Simply using his "normal" speaking voice, there has rarely been a recording that flows as smoothly or freely as one finds on "Bust A Move," and in many ways, his work here epitomizes the sound and approach of the "Golden Age" of hip-hop.  Yet as perfect as Young M.C.'s delivery style is on "Bust A Move," one would be remiss to try and claim that there is anything more memorable on the track than the amazing lyrical work.  In the overall history of the hip-hop genre, there are few songs that are as memorable in their entirety, as nearly every line of "Bust A Move" has become iconic within many cultures across the globe.  Truth be told, dropping nearly any part of the song within conversation will instantly create a bond between people, as even the mention of the song immediately brings out the upbeat, catchy nature of the song.  From "...your movie's showin, so your goin'..." to "...your best friend Harry has a brother Larry...," the verses to "Bust A Move" are beyond the term "iconic" and truly exist in a category all their own.  Each situation laid out within the verses represents such a common circumstance that nearly anyone in any culture can easily relate to it, and this further adds to the unforgettable nature of the song.  The phrase "Bust A Move" has been worked into countless other situations in nearly every form of media and entertainment, and one can easily make the case that the phrase itself has now come to represent something far beyond just a simple song hook.

From generation to generation, "Bust A Move" continues to find rebirth, and this is the true sign of an amazing musical feat, as one can easily label the track as a "timeless" song.  With its universal themes that run through the verses to the straightforward nature with which Young M.C. delivers them, the song was destined for crossover success, and it was this success that played a vital role in the "acceptance" of hip-hop within mainstream society.  Bringing a lighter, humorous mood to his lyrics, though most of the verses begin with a bit of an "underdog" character, by the end of the verse, the person in question triumphs over their situation by jumping into the party and living live to its fullest.  This, in many ways, can be seen as the "message" behind the song, as Young M.C. tries to show that regardless of what life throws at you, if you just "go with it" or "bust a move," you will find far greater happiness and benefit from the opportunities which you pursue. Backed by the fantastic singing of Crystal Blake, "Bust A Move" represents hip-hop perfection, as the beats keep the song moving, yet do not over-power, and the contrast between the singing and steady rhyming of Young M.C. create a fantastic musical juxtaposition.  Topped off by an unparalleled musical production, even after hundreds of listenings, "Bust A Move" still comes off as "fresh" and can instantly ignite any social gathering.  Standing far above nearly every other song in the history of hip-hop, one would be hard pressed to find a more perfect representation of the "power" of the style than one finds in Young M.C.'s magnificent 1989 hip-hop classic, "Bust A Move."

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