Drop (It Like It’s Yours)

Rich Boy’s “Drop” — particularly the instrumental — struck me immediately, for a few reasons, as an obvious but original nod to Bangladesh’s juggernaut beat for “A Milli,” which is, as SFJ memorably describes it —

both heavy and barely there, built from a sub-bass kick, a thin snare, and synthetic handclaps, none of which play at the same time.

Not only does Polow’s beat for Rich Boy feature the alternating drum patterns to which Sasha alludes (in particular, a “3+1″/”turnaround” arrangement), it’s most prominent feature is the repeatedly triggered vocal fragment that sounds as if — along with the clicky claptrap that takes the place of “A Milli”‘s crunk-y-clave snare — it were sampled from Zap Mama or something. It’s some out-there, crunk’d-up ethnotechno that recalls another Rich Boy track, the Timbaland-producedGet To Poppin.”

My first and lingering impression is that it’s the best post-milli beat to date BY FAR, just as “A Milli” was the best post-“Drop It Like it’s Hot” track — at least wrt that 3+1/ON-off/turnaround pattern I’m hearing. Of course, Bangladesh added to Pharrell’s template the rhythmically triggered vocal samples, which caught on as a textural gesture in its own right, beyond the songs in question here — though it builds of course, in its whimsical way, on a longstanding trend toward incorporating vocal samples in hip-hop “instrumentals” (dating back at least to early RZA).

There are other contenders, pale in comparison. Take this bit of opportunist, orientalist weaksauce from Ludacris, which — pretty audibly to my ears — features the same sort of drum pattern, substituting Diwali-esque handclaps for the turnaround in place of thin snares. (The Diwali, incidentally, is another example of an instrumental whose distinctive groove was quickly and widely adopted as a dominant, if fleeting, template for an entire genre.)

Another clearly post-milli beat to recently rear its head is “Diva” by Beyonce. That one also sounds a little too crassly derivative to me — maybe moreso — though it’s definitely amusing to hear Beezy get all Weezy on the track. Props for that. But I just can’t co-sign on such a carbon-copy production. It sounds as if they grabbed the “A Milli” instrumental and put some bad violin & chipmunk’d vox on top. What is this, Girl Talk?

The difference, as I hear it, is that “Drop” takes the idea of “A Milli,” says “that’s dope,” and runs with it. It nods to the original but makes your neck snap in its own way. Polow’s tweaks to the form, rather than trendy, sound downright timely — and I mean that in the best possible way.