- If you're into "bass music," I can almost guarantee you know "Harlem Shake" by now. Given a prominent feature in Rustie's Essential Mix earlier this year and infiltrating sets everywhere since, it represents the hip-hop contingent of the genre, the "Ellipsis" of music made from rolling snares and bucking basslines. Furthermore, it's particularly symptomatic of a growing strain of music obsessed with "trap," a style of hip-hop characterized best by the distinctive productions of Lex Luger, whose cheap synth horns and machine-gun snares are soundtracking underground (and overground) raves all over North America in 2012.
It's not hard to see why the track is well-liked, but its snowballing ubiquity is a bit of a head-scratcher, simply because it's not all that interesting. An undulating synth that might remind you of subdued moombahton rides cresting waves of sub frequencies, adorned with those lisping, jagged snares (and growling lions). It's the kind of humourous, exaggerated thing we'd expect from Diplo's crew, and each time the beat slots into that mechanical bull of a bassline, the climax is admittedly satisfying—that is, until it resumes flailing like a novelty track. The flipside "Yaow" offers a little more to chew on. Less sparse, it uses reverbed mallets to imbue the track with an otherworldly, hypnotic quality lacking in the brutally functional "Harlem Shake." All the elements are in place on here, but it could use some... shaking up. It might be one of the more inescapable tracks of the year so far, but sometimes hype is just hype.
A Harlem Shake