Music is 99% subjective, but it's that remaining 1% that dictates our conversation.
We can't listen to music in a vacuum, so all the outside forces--friends, family, the radio, Twitter, the old heads--play a role in how we feel about what we feel. That’s why we all have that one song from that one artist who we love but would never admit it to anyone. Maybe it’s singing The Weeknd at the top of your lungs or listening to Drake while you are thinking about your ex, rest assured you're never alone.
For me, it’s Fall Out Boy...or should I say it was Fall Out Boy.
In high school, I would lump the Chicago rock band in with Simple Plan and Good Charlotte to make fun of the “emo” kids, but then I'd go home and bump “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.” In College, I would blast whatever Weezy song was popular for the whole dorm to hear, but it was “America’s Suitehearts” that got me through countless all nighters. They were an anomaly, something I couldn't explain, but loved nonetheless. For years I hid them away as a guilty pleasure, but then I started looking up samples, I began to reading liner notes, I started really listening to hip-hop and I learned a whole new side of Fall Out Boy. They may not be hip-hop themselves, but it took hip-hop to help me see how amazing they are.
On one of the legendary Hypemen Podcast, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz said it best, “We are your Favorite rappers favorite band.” He's right. Of all the bands hip-hop has kind of adopted (like Coldplay or Florence & The Machine) not one has been more successful in crossing over than Fall Out Boy. Shit, they even have Roc-A-Fella chains. Their hip-hop resume is one that most rappers could only dream of... and they aren't even rappers. You can find them linked to The Roots (“Birthday Girl”), Timbaland (“One And Only”), Tyga's "Don’t Regret It Now” (where they make Tyga seem like the guest) and Lupe Fiasco. Yes, Lupe Fiasco and a little album called “The Cool.” I’m sure our readers are familiar "Little Weapon," but did you know that the dynamic cut was produced by FOB's Patrick Stump?
Like many a Fall Out Boy song (see "The (Shipped) Gold Standard"), "Little Weapon" is driven by relentless drums. Additionally, the “Woah” vocal sample sprinkled throughout the cut is courtesy of Stump himself. To date, Stump’s work on “Little Weapon” is the apex of Fall Out Boy's work within hip-hop. Not just because Lupe is one of the most respected emcees around, but because of how the song sounds. “Little Weapon” is exhausting, it’s big, it’s epic, and that’s due to Stump’s production. That same energy found on nearly every Fall Out Boy record translated perfectly to “Little Weapon,” a standout off a well-respected, critically acclaimed hip-hop album.
And let’s not forget the amazing “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s A God Damned Arms Race” featuring original verses from Travis McCoy, Lil Wayne, and some guy named Kanye West (among others).
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If there was a rapper who had worked with Lupe, Timbaland, and The Roots, and sported a Roc chain, they would be exalted. But Fall Out Boy continues to be slighted by the hip-hop community. Case in point, their new album, Make America Psycho Again, a rap-ifed, remix album of American Beauty/American Psycho (released earlier this year). Though the album features a diverse set of artists--from Migos, OG Maco, and Ferg to Black Thought and K.R.I.T-- the reaction from hip-hop hasn’t been what you would expect.
It seems odd that Fall Out Boy is accepted by some of the most popular, well-respected rappers yet shunned by the fans of those rappers. If, instead of judging, these narrow minded hip-hop fans took the time to listen to the album, I think they would be incredibly surprised at how well the project flows.
Make American Psycho Again is a remix-album but it’s not gimmicky or cheap in the way these kinds of endeavors often end up being. Rap remixes are often just a verse added onto a song, but on this album Fall Out Boy completely revamped their instrumentals and catered them to the artists featured. It takes some serious time, effort, and skill to be able to blend two diverse, distinct sounds on one instrumental.
Case in point the opening song, “Irresistible.” It has the vibrancy of any Fall Out Boy track, but the restructuring of the drums gives it a trap feel that helps bridge the gap between FOB and Migos. If trap beats aren’t your thing, take a listen to “Jet Pack Blues,” which features Big K.R.I.T. I love the way the instrumental gets looped, giving it a sample-heavy, bluesy vibe which K.R.I.T is known for. How many hip-hop producers can alter their sound enough to fit both K.R.I.T and Migos? That’s the biggest success of Make American Psycho Again, the ability to give new life, a colorful touch to some trap-inspired beats.
I may not have agreed with all the guests (more Black Thought, less Azealia Banks), but regardless of who was rapping, I was astounded by how well the beats were arranged and tweaked in order bridge the two, seemingly opposing sounds.
Hip-hop heads are stubborn and hard-headed. Once we feel a certain way about something it’s hard to change our minds; I’m the same way. So, there’s a good chance you have some misconception about Fall Out Boy like I did. There's a good chance you saw this album as nothing more than a cheap, poppy gimmick. If that’s the case, think of it this way: if any rapper had an album featuring Migos, Big K.R.I.T, and Black Thought, you would probably check it out right? So why is Fall Out Boy, the band with the Roc chains, the band who has worked with The Roots, Kanye, and Lupe, somehow unworthy?
I’m not asking you to love this album, I think there’s a good percentage of our readers who will not like it, but I am asking that you give it a chance. I think you might be surprised even if you won't admit it. Make American Psycho Again demonstrates Fall Out Boy’s musical curiosity and experimentation. They are unafraid to take risks, drawing inspiration from any type of genre or sound to build something unique and special. More than a co-sign or a chain that's what makes Make American Psycho Against such a success; that’s what makes Fall Out Boy hip-hop.