Jesse Jarnow

“one call away” – chingy featuring j. weav

#2 this week, #4 last week, 7 weeks on the chart

The last time I wrote about Chingy, I wondered about the existence of regionalism in his music. It was maybe, I posited, detectable in the singer’s accent and the lyrics, but not necessarily in the beats and production itself. But, listening to his latest chart-topper, I’m having a stupid revelation: just how can one detect the existence of regionalism, anyway? I mean, it’s real obvious in music from the ’40s and ’50s. There is a marked existence between the Texas swing of Bob Wills and the Kentucky high and lonesome of Bill Monroe, and I’m inclined to believe – on some level – that difference is at least as much about the difference between what it’s like to live and write music in Texas and what it’s like to live and write music in Kentucky as it is about the difference between Wills and Monroe as human beings — mostly based on the evidence that similar differences can be derived between the various bands that followed in Wills’ and Monroe’s wake.

So, Chingy. Is this what the Dirty South sounds like? Sure, I can picture it, though perhaps not as unconsciously as I might be able to if I had never been to Atlanta, and not had it defined by other musical associations. There’s a warmly airy quality to the guitar part, underscored by the strings that blend nicely with the guitar. On top of that is a distorted beat. It feels like a warm night in an urban environment — the strings creating the quality of the air, the tone of the beat carving out a closed-in space (though one with wide streets and low buildings, as opposed to cluttered with tall buildings). I mean, more or less, I’m imagining Atlanta. Am I projecting because of what I know about both Chingy and the city of Atlanta? Most probably, but I think that’s how it’s supposed to work. By mentioning it with such frequency in their songs (though not here), Chingy and others of the Dirty South certainly do their best to create it as a place for the listener to imagine. Given music’s ambiguity, every listener will imagine something different.

I like the different vocal parts on the chorus. There are two or three vocal parts floating around, not to mention the guitar and the handclaps (which morph neatly into the beat). The drums all throughout the opening (a non-repeated element that leads into the chorus) are cool, methodically accelerating into the main groove (a cool rhythmic hook to pull the listener in). The first verse has strings, but no guitar. The second verse has guitar, but no strings. They meet back up again in the chorus. The third verse has both, but – at first – they don’t play at the same time, alternating snugly, before overlapping as the verse transitions into the chorus.

Of the songs I’ve listened to for this project, this one seems to have the closest to the verse/chorus/verse that I ignorantly figured would be prevalent on nearly all the tracks (preconceptions of pop?). Oddly, I also find this to be one of the most unexciting tunes I’ve listened to for it. Meh.