“I started thinking, ‘You know what? Why don’t I just rap?’ Because it’s just poetry with a beat behind it, really.”
Lady Leshurr in The Guardian.
House music asks a lot of a singer. Each word is a beat with feeling, a flavoured note of music. In English, it’s not usual to expect individual syllables to carry such Japanese haiku levels of vivid economy. The challenge, for a House/Deep House vocalist, is to flesh out the bones without disrupting the beat. It’s a precision art.
How do you avoid sounding like a woodpecker, when lyrics are mainly one-syllable sounds, closely backed by drum machine beats?
Preparation. Before you watch Kah-Lo infuse the tiny word ‘now’ with ultra-cool in Riton‘s Rinse and Repeat, try saying the English phrase “But it’s how I look now” out loud. Which words did you emphasise? I’d guess you emphasised now. Not but and not look. But it’s how I look now isn’t natural English. Or is it? Kah-Lo makes it so:
There’s a point at which all the conscious thought and preparation for a song composts down into pure energy. The singer lives the song and the song lives in them. It’s a privilege to watch alchemy in action:
© Sing Better English, 2016