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Down With The Trumpets

by Rizzle Kicks

Here’s a production that feels to me like it’s trying a bit too hard to sound big and clear on low-quality systems, giving owners of pimped VW Golf GTIs some cheap sub-100Hz thrills and ensuring crispy ringtone transmission at the top end, but at the expense of a deficit in the 300Hz ‘warmth’ zone. The HF transients and sibilance feel overcooked too, and if they had been limited, to take off some of their plasticky edge, I reckon the lyrics would have come through better and you’d have been able to turn things up more before your ears started bleeding.

Despite my reservations about the overall mix tone, though, a couple of nice rhythmic features did definitely catch my ear. The first is at 0:38 where the lead rap’s lyric “on my brand new white trainers” is echoed by the doubles, but with the rhythm starting in a different part of the bar. The result is that all the vocal stresses in the repeated phrase occur in a different relationship with the main beat, making it sound fresh and interesting even though you’re hearing it for the second time. Simple, but very effective.

The second rhythmic trick is of a similar type, but is created during the song’s outro (from 2:47) using the main mariachi horns sample. If you compare this to the intro (0:00-0:16), you can hear that Rizzle Kicks have effectively moved the trumpet line’s characteristic single high-register note an eighth-note early. Admittedly, it’s always possible that it’s actually played like this during another part of the original recording they sampled, but given the careful manipulation and editing of the samples elsewhere in the track (especially in the choruses), I’m inclined to believe that the credit is due to them. Whatever, the message I want to get across here is that the general idea of shifting repeated musical material into a different pocket in the groove is seriously worth investigating for any chart material, because it lets you have your cake and eat it: you can repeat your hooks more often, so that they worm their way better into the listener’s consciousness, but still keep them sounding fresh, so that all that repetition doesn’t just bore people to death.

This track is also worth checking out for the editing of the main sample in the choruses, which gives a flavour of the sample without stealing too much space from the vocals. It’s funny, because it gives the impression somehow that the mariachi sample is playing in full under the whole chorus, but actually there’s not much of it that’s been left in there. And if you wanted a stark example of how different rap vocal tones on commercial releases can be, line this track up against Wretch 32’s 'Traktor' – it’s like chalk and cheese.