Music is mnemonic for me; it brings back the time and the place when I heard it even if there’s nothing memorable about that time and place. For example: I first heard Kick, Push about a year ago, late for work again in the low winter sun, driving along the A5 in the East Midlands to a job that I was coming to accept was doomed. But despite that, and despite the comet’s tail of problems that caused, it’s a happy memory, and it’s a happy memory because of Kick, Push, because it’s such a simple, appealing, wonderful pop song.
The lyrics are important here, even though they’re kind of trite. I love a song that tells a story and though the story here is cartoonish and inconclusive, it builds verse by verse, each one a new scene and a progression arcing down to the same punchline. The female slam of the line “I weigh a hundred and twenty pounds,” is my favourite, but it’s all good. The hook, the propulsive three-word rhythm of motion, works beautifully for its simplicity. All that rap bluster and swag, the introduction and the dedication, give the whole thing a bit more substance and drama than is really earned. And there’s the beat that drives it all, a looped crescendo and comedown it’s hard to imagine working in any other type of music – the song is all climax, again and again – but given shape, beaten into pop sensibility, by a vocal that’s in complete command.
I’ve no idea how I missed this in 2006, when it was a hit and Grammy-nominated and all that stuff. On this compilation it comes after two contemporary songs, 2013 and 2012, but all music is on shuffle now and six years is nothing. It does what a third track on a compilation should always do and seals the deal, gives the listener enough of a rush to ensure they stick with it. In the end, it reminds me of nothing so much as itself, a feedback loop of pop perfection. You don’t hear much of Lupe Fiasco now. When you record a single this singular to begin with, it’s all downhill.
Artist: Lupe Fiasco
Title: Kick, Push
Compilation: Coyote Summer