Song produced by Configa.
One word best describes this song – ANTHEM. It’s literally in the chorus. This is an automatic add to any DJ’s setlist. If the crowd isn’t hyped after this then you’re probably playing it in a graveyard, although rumour has it that this is what resurrected all those bodies in the Thriller video.
Scene not set yet? Check out the video. An amazing explosion of colour and energy. It’s actually my preferred format to experience the song. I fkn love this song and this video.
As with Never Had Your Back, this is one that I’d happily play around kids knowing they’d have fun listening but also that they’d unwittingly absorb knowledge. Its the type of song they’ll hear in 10-15 years time and hear in a totally different way.
Music is a snapshot in time, chronicling a small moment in history – which is ultimately why art is so important. Swing Um, more than the songs prior to it on this album, provides an insight in to the pandemic and how it impacted some people. It does this without being in your face about it or preachy. Just this happened, this is what we learned.
Configa has provided an upbeat boom bap monster of a sound bed. Beginning with a soundbite of legendary producer Marley Marl. So much of this brings a smile to the face, even the understated scratches – this is like a sonic homage to the Doug E Fresh era of entertaining. Don’t know if that was the intent, but its where it took me.
The Marley Marl soundbite is barely finished before Fatman Scoop drops the vocal equivalent of a party. The scene is set. Not even 15 seconds in you know you’re getting a God tier emcee and a pure HipHop anthem in one song.
Just incase you weren’t sure, in comes Speech
We keep climbing like we’re King KongSpeech, Swing Um
No, this ain’t a song baby this is an anthem
The King Kong reference is obvious, but when you know you’ve got a monster of a song why not point it out?
Speech delivers a verse that recognises the tough times, but is full of hope and gratitude.
But im feeling sorta nice and its greatSpeech, Swing Um
Cuz the demons directed fans to take another take
At this collective ironically named arrested development
People needing that connection
While subtly promoting their last album Don’t Fight Your Demons, Speech flips the negative of the pandemic in to the silver lining of fans re-connecting with Arrested Development. To be honest this verse works on so many levels, but its beauty is in its simplicity. My take? We’ve been forced to face our demons this last couple of years, but thats not a purely bad thing – there are lessons we will have learned, positives too.
That connection line couldn’t be more true either. In a world full of communication, connection seems to be at an all time low. Simplicity, but so much meaning.
Dell-P shifts the theme slightly, but ties in to Speech’s verse perfectly.
Country under stress hard times absorb our energyDell-P, Swing Um
A must we connect gotta rise and reform the industry
It’s urgent bout to be a shift and I’m determined
To carry on tradition listen it’s time for learning
While Speech talked about how the pandemic stopped performers earning, Dell-P acknowledges this and calls for change. But that one word surfaces again, connect. I don’t know if that was deliberate, but this is why so many of these songs work. The emcees build on each others messages.
Again it’s not all negative, shit happened lets deal with it. Acknowledging there will be hard work ahead. So many lessons in this song.
Vocally Dell-P wouldn’t have sounded out of place on The Symphony. He’s the perfect bridge between Speech and Masta Ace, he has an old soul vibe in his delivery and writing. His love of Hiphop is evident, not afraid to throw in a boast or two (old school style) but also brings an intelligence.
The song is rounded off with Masta Ace, who pulls no punches. A pure contrast to Speech in approach, reinforcing the need for Dell-P to connect the two. Check the video, he’s pure New York attitude. You’ve had your sugar, now here’s the medicine.
On paper this shouldn’t work. But somehow it does. It helps that Configa didn’t switch the beat up, which would have made the change too jarring and killed the song (in my opinion). Masta Ace is an elite emcee who makes it work. Again this song is so deceptive and deliberate in its structure, it couldn’t fail.
Masta Ace brings pure messages here. No mess. A reminder that recent times have been bad, but black people in America have rarely seen good times in 400 years.
He’s a stern teacher, but then when the odds are so stacked against a whole race that is definitely needed. The whole song has been the Trojan horse that allowed Ace to sneak in and hit you over the head with his hard hitting message.
Whats his message? The country wants black people dead (hard to contradict what he’s saying based on history) and black people are playing in to its hands by not looking after themselves and by not taking control of their own lives.
The one line I will mention of his is
You can hear the urgency in every quoteMasta Ace, Swing Um
I’m not quoting anymore of his lines. They need to be heard, reading them would just dilute the message. His seriousness and conviction are so important to the lyrics and lessons.