The big picture is easy. It doesn't take an intense investigation to realize that "Pop Style" is a surprisingly boring song for a line-up that prolific, it's easy to point out that Drake's "Chaining Tatum" line was groan worthy. But I'm always fascinated in the small details, the things you only pick up after the first or tenth or one-hundredth listen.
In other words, it's official, Kanye West tagging his verses with the Street Fighter "perfect" sample is officially a thing. 99% of of you may have stopped reading right there, that's fine, this just isn't for you. This is for the remaining 1% of my fellow obsessive rap nerds. Don't kill our vibe.
When Kanye's "Facts (Charlie Heat Version)" verse started and ended with a Street Fighter sample I assumed it was a one time thing, a cool small touch that referred to making it through a Street Fighter match without being hit once. Frankly, at first I assumed it was an addition from Charlie Heat, not Kanye. And then when I finally heard The Life of Pablo I noticed the same "Perfect" sample at the beginning on his "Pt. 2" verse, which was produced by Kanye and a host of others, not Charlie Heat. So maybe it was Yeezy's new production tag?
And then I heard "Pop Style" and guess what we hear right after Kanye's verse ends? That's right, you guessed it.
Oh shit! Are we witnessing the birth of a Kanye verse tag? I'm used to producer tags, I'm used to rapper ad-libs, but while I'm probably missing an obvious example, I'm hard pressed to think of any rappers who consistently tag their verses with a sample. The closest thing that comes to mind is Rick Ross' occasional use of the MMG drop before his verses, like on the recent "Layers," but Ross doesn't do it consistently, and that's just the same MMG tag he uses all the time, it's not verse specific.
I haven't been able to get behind a lot of what Kanye's done over the last couple months, but I'm legitimately fascinated by this and will be listening closely to every Kanye verse from now on. It's the big things that make you like hip-hop, it's the smallest details that make me love it.
UDPATE: This has sparked a surprisingly big reaction, I guess the 1% is larger than I thought. A lot of people have pointed out 2 Chainz "2 Chaiinnnnnnz" tag before his verses and Wayne's "lighter spark" noise. Those are good examples, although not quite the same thing. 2 Chainz saying "2 Chaiiiinnnnzzzz" is just a typical rapper ad-lib, like Jadakiss' laugh, Ross' "Bawse" or any rapper ad-lib. The Wayne "lighter spark" is an interesting case, I think that's actually live at the time, but a very similar concept. I still can't think of a time when someone has used a sample like this as a tag. Kanye's using it like a producer would tag their beats, but for his raps, which makes sense considering he does both.
Speaking of which, it now occurs to me that by including a sampled tag like this you're also forcing someone else to clear your sample. Drake had to also clear the Street FIghter sample for that song, which has to be a big reason why it's never (other than this) done on guest verses.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.