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Man's Not Hot

by Big Shaq

Great parody lies in blurring the line between real-world absurdity and amusingly plausible fiction. For my money, one of the best ways to walk this particular tightrope in the musical sphere is to try to nail the production values of the style you’re pillorying, to the point where many listeners have to do a double-take before they realise they’re not listening to a ‘real’ record. This is where I always thought Spinal Tap scored so highly back in the day, by underpinning the fictional band’s idiotic antics with uncanny stylistic pastiches such as ‘America’, ‘Cups And Cakes’, and ‘Stonehenge’. And it’s also what I loved about this recent Big Shaq viral sensation.

The funny thing is, I actually had no idea initially that Big Shaq was a comedy persona of the actor Michael Dapaah, because I discovered the track via the UK singles chart listings, rather than through his own obviously tongue-in-cheek video. As such, I approached the track as seriously as I would any other Mix Review candidate. And, frankly, why not? It’s 100 percent a competitive production, as far as I’m concerned, and a great-sounding one at that. The bass is super-weighty, but with that UK grime square-wave flavour that comes through beautifully on smaller speakers. The kick’s splendid too, deftly interlocking with the bass and delivering enough tight low end to work your subwoofer into a sweat, as well as concentrating lots of well-controlled attack into the low mid-range, where it’ll fatten the tone on pretty much any system without woolliness. I also think the restlessness of the stereo width is tremendously effective and engaging, with the total mono of the bass and kick, the slight stereo widening of the lead vocal, the skittering stereo pointillism of the high percussion, and the all-encompassing spread of the signature brass-hit hook.

The vocal performance is also impressive for Dapaah’s rhythmic panache and the percussive clarity of his diction. Would that more rappers' lyrics came through as clearly as his do! It was in focussing on these, though, that I began to smell a rat, although it has to be an indictment of the ridiculousness of so much real-world hip-hop posturing that it took me (no stranger to UK hip-hop) as long as it did to start Googling…