With the Hummingbird Rotation, we hope to give folks a closer look at the songs that get the most play at Hummingbird HQ. This installment, hear about Anderson .Paak, Sheck Wes, and Matt Corby.
Anderson .Paak ft. Nate Dogg // What Can We Do?
“It’s the rap singer, hook master,” sing .Paak and Nate Dogg in harmony, opening an emotionally dense track featuring a passed legend and a blossoming one, sharing the stage for the first and sadly last time.
“What Can We Do?”, produced by Nate Dogg’s close friend Dr. Dre, is a beautiful homage to the late hook master. The two a soulful and loving synchronization from the opening bars of the track, and continue the interpolation, each giving the other the perfect amount of room to explore their feelings.
In the album notes on Apple Music, .Paak is quoted from an interview with Zane Lowe; “I wanted to do something more creative… something that might sound like we coulda when he was still here.” Posthumous features often end up mostly being a financial flex (“Look at what intellectual property I can afford to license!”), but .Paak takes extra steps to make “What Can We Do?” feel like a true collaboration, with the two artists engaging in beyond-the-grave conversation only possible through music.
At the end of the day, everyone has some kind of sadness, and although “What Can We Do?” isn’t necessarily solving those problems, it’s a great track for processing and understanding that there’s nothing we can really do, and that’s ok.
Vetements Socks // Sheck Wes
As someone that had Mudboy in his top-five albums of 2018, I’ve been urging people to see Sheck as someone more than his ignorance on “Mo Bamba” and “Live Sheck Wes” for some time. His music may not consistently exhibit deep ponderings — or any at all — but almost all of it is fun.
Sheck’s fun-loving side is loud and proud on this one; “Pull up in a tractor, no Lambo / I’m a fucking Green Bay Packer,” but he’s still dropping wisdom on the outro to the track; “Listen young man, don’t be stressin’ / Bullshit’s part of life, it’s a life lesson.”
As a conclusion to Mudboy, an album perfect for letting loose in any scenario, this track wraps up themes Sheck introduced on many of the project’s tracks- it has the head-banging of “Live Sheck Wes,” without the bass; it has the witty bars of “Kyrie,” and it is topped off with the energizing verses of “Jiggy on the Shits.”
Don’t let anti-Sheck bias keep you from exploring Mudboy — give “Vetements Socks” a try and you just might find a gem!
All Fired Up // Matt Corby
Matt Corby is an excellent songwriter — as compelling as he is creative. He’s not afraid to borrow chords from other scales or mix up progressions catching you by pleasant surprise. And while some musicians may do these things simply to expand their sonic palette, Corby uses it as a storytelling device, adding dissonance and tension which parallels the narrative.
At the end of the first refrain on his last “all fired up” there’s a subtle yet effective deviation from the song’s key in the piano chords he plays. Even if you’re not a music theory major, you can sense the precarious dissonance in the middle two chords of that last measure (the first one starts at 1:42). They’re a little off-balance, unexpected, and bittersweet. That harmonic friction accentuates the story of the strained relationship Corby sings of where both their problems and the chords are not quite resolved.
“All Fired Up” is rich with fun little embellishments that create interest and depth. If you’ve got headphones on, listen for the shaker at the very beginning bouncing from one side of the stereo field to the other as it clears a wide space for Corby and his piano to sit within. It’s a subtle yet effective element that creates space and dynamics in the less instrumentally dense moments.
Corby doesn’t need to rely on fancy-schmancy production. It’s apparent from his piano playing, singing voice, and lyrical smarts that Corby is a natural. Nonetheless, “All Fired Up” is filled with a thousand tiny little sound treats, the sum of which equals a rich, full composition and a damn great song. Corby doesn’t lean on these elements but takes advantage of them to make something even bigger and better.