Who knew? The era of the radio hit isn't completely over. Maybe five times recently, someone's asked, "Dude, have you heard that Spose song?"
"What? 'Spizzy' Spose? That guy? What song?"
"He's all over 'CYY. Is that what he's like all the time?"
So, of course I went to the WCYY Web site to figure out what they were talking about. It's "I'm Awesome." And, yes, that's what he's like all the time. Perhaps more strikingly, that's now what he's like all the time on WJBQ as well.
Local music on the Q? What?
Between 75 (plus or minus) local albums a year and trying to keep up with why Pitchforkmedia.com sucks, I don't have much time for random radio surfing. But I do have the Spose/Cam Groves album, We Smoked It All, so I started listening.
(Yes, I've had it for a while without listening. I have the Preposterously Dank album, too, and I've listened to that plenty. And he's not lying when he says, "every show I do is poorly promoted." I do not, however, have the I'm Awesome EP released January 7.)
There's no doubt there's an immediate primal appeal about "I'm Awesome," like Weezer's "Hash Pipe," maybe, or possibly "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" (or whatever that's called), or maybe the Beasties' "Girls" or "Paul Revere." Beck's imploring, "I'm a loser, baby/So why don't you kill me?" It's ironic self-aggrandizement, bombastic humility. Maybe it's the FreeCreditReport.com guy I'm thinking of.
Regardless: It's really funny.
The backing synths in the chorus sound like they could actually be the plastic flutes we bought for my kids as bath toys (you put more or less water in to change the note, but there are five of them, so you can put a song together with the little styrofoam holder that turns them into a Pan flute of sorts). It's ramshackle enough to support the intended irony, but well enough produced so that there's clearly a method behind the madness.
And it is madness. A punishing repetition of decrepitude and verbal painting that is pathetically glorious. It opens with the chorus, and brings that back four times over the course of four minutes jam-packed with nasally rap: "Lyrically I'm not the best/Physically I'm the opposite of Randy Moss . . . All my writtens are bitten/And all my verses are purchased . . . My whole home aroma is cat piss . . . If you like this it's because my little sister wrote it."
I laughed out loud at this, mostly because of the sneer he puts into his voice to ape his mom: "Just asked my mom if I could borrow ten bucks/She's like, 'For what, blunt wraps and some Heineken?/Go get a gym membership and some vitamins.'"
Part of the attraction is that incongruity, the fact that it's everything we know about mainstream hip-hop, but the ultimate in self-deprecation instead of -aggrandizement. But would it be as popular if you didn't suspect this is the truest thing Spose ever wrote?
For me, the bridge is the song's heart, where it goes minor key and it's like we're getting a glimpse behind the curtain: "And I'm not even the bomb in Maine/On my game I'm only 'bout as sexy as John McCain/Now put your hands up if you have nightmares/If you wouldn't man up if there was a fight here/If you've got dandruff, if you drink light beer . . ."