Saturday, October 18, 2008

No. 1 Single Reviews: "Live Your Life" by T.I. feat. Rihanna

Well, this one is just baffling. The fact that a 4-year-old internet meme--"Numa Numa." Come on. You know, this asshole--was somehow tapped for a hip-hop song. The fact that it hit No. 1, if only for a week. That fact that its not a total trainwreck. Everything about it, really.

The thing is, detached from the actual "Numa Numa" samples that start and close the song, as well as Rihanna jacking the melody for the pre-chorus, it's a solid enough single. The T.I. sound of massive synths and subtle orchestration sounds makes the songs sound huge, and the effortlessly bluster of the lyrics matches up (my fave: "I'm the opposite of moderate, immaculately polished/With the spirit of a hustler and the swagger of a college kid/Allergic to the counterfeit, impartial to the politics/Articulate but still would grab a nigga by the collar quick.")

The other thing, though, is that even the 12-second bookends of "Numa Numa" are enough to color the whole song. How did this happen? Did T.I. call Rihanna up after a late night of browsing YouTube to pitch the song? "Sup, girl? Listen, you wanna come sing the hook on my new single? Nah, nah, I want you to sign the song from this video. This shit is bumpin'!" The song would have to be amazing to avoid being overshadowed by the premise, but it is not.

As a number one single, this just feels inconsequential, and there's no reason it should have dethroned T.I.'s vastly superior "Whatever You Like," which has already been honored with a quickie "Weird" Al parody. It's mildly interesting to see that internet culture is mainstream enough for T.I. to jack a beat from a novelty video, but I think the one-week stint on top is appropriate: there's the initial "...seriously?" reaction, the realization it's okay enough, and then the realization "okay enough" isn't reason to stick around. Looking forward to Jay-Z's take on "All Your Base," though.

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