And you might end up with an earworm.
I’m saying, the automaticity of musical memory ain’t nuttin to ckuf wit.
Of course, Yellowman’s earworm par excellence, at least for this happy host, is the ol’ zunguzung meme. I can’t seem to go long without encountering another iteration. In fact, I came across two in the last month, and they’re both worth sharing here (instead of just embedded as comments on a running tally of a post).
The first I ended up using in my global hip-hop class earlier this semester to show how closely Jamaican dancehall sessions of the early 80s resembled coeval hip-hop jams. Rapping to the beat and all that. Browsing various mid-80s Skateland uploads, I happened pon a scene I’d clearly yet to give a good view:
As you see, some serious rub-a-dub a gwaan as Yellowman — sporting yellow shades no less! — riffs on “Nobody Move” (later sampled for Eazy-E’s debut) and starts singing “ooh-wee baby” — a classically ecumenical nod to Frankie Ford’s (& Huey “Piano” Smith’s) “Sea Cruise.” Just as he gets going with the ooh-wees, a peal of machine-gun fire punctuates the performance. In response, King Yellow bellows “Jah!” And they wheel up the riddim as a second round tears through the night air.
Relatively un-unsettled, the selector calls for the crowd to “seckle” before another gentleman explains that such gunfire is illegal and is only going to invite the police to shut things down. From there, he turns things back over to Volcano soundsystem, at which point Josey Wales is handed the mic and again asks people to please chill on the “explosion” and “seckle seckle seckle seckle.” And the session begins again, real nice like, as Wales gets into a couple crowd pleasing routines, playing on well-known melodies (“hula hoop, hula hoop”) and alluding to Muhammad Ali.
About 3:20 into the video, Yellowman gets the mic back and he’s quick to deploy the zunguzung melody — “boogie fi me” — in service of grabbing people’s attention before launching into a fairly extemporaneous performance as “di mic MC,” shouting out his fellow DJs at the dance, various local spots and posses, as well as mobilizing a few important throw-away lines like “when me come a dance, me no chat fuckery.” Papa Toyan and other fun follow from there, but I’ll leave the rest to your eyes & ears.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention here that the cosmos sent yet another zunguzung reference my way (albeit a little late) about a month ago as I got into the car to head off to Beat Research. No sooner did I turn the key than Big City 101.3 started playing ye olde melody at me, this time c/o last year’s “Matey Wine” by Tifa (how’d I miss this one?), a strong addition to quite a growing list:
Finally, while we speak of embedded videos in comment threads that largely go unseen, let me take the opportunity to make sure you’ve witnessed the remarkable resonance of “Papi Chulo” in Turkey:
Consider yourself re-installed.