Jesse Jarnow

“i don’t wanna know” – mario winans featuring p. diddy and enya

#4 this week, #9 last week, 8 weeks on the chart

There’s a fantastic, fantastic article in The New Yorker this week by Jake Halpern about the Trackboyz and J-Kwon. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It confirms what I suspected (or maybe wanted to suspect): that there is no firm, singular, one-way star system in the music industry. Sure, the right wheels need to be greased, and the right folks have to get paid, but – the point is – anybody who succeeds has to follow a long, hard path of greasing wheels and the like. That, in itself, is a talent with a certain accompanying skill set and even musical qualities. The Trackboyz are from St. Louis, and that’s cool. The article talks about where/how they live, and generally paints a picture of how they got there.

I don’t know much about Mario Winans – he appears to be predominantly a producer – but I can only imagine that he’s had to beat his own path, especially if he’s producing his own full-length debut. The first thing that jumps out at me about this song is a production thing: the drums are dominant with flaming oodles of practically ambient strings and keyboards and what floating beneath. There’s a lot of stuff happening, but it’s hard to make out any specifics. The second thing that jumps out (which I only noticed after a few listens) is the nature of the beat. On one hand, it’s not insistent. It doesn’t draw me in at all, and feels far too mellow to be effective in a club. But, the more I listen, the more I can get into it. Somehow, the tempo is just right. It’s punchier than a ballad, but slower than anything else. Likewise, it’s got a cool stuttered kick that doesn’t quite repeat the same way each time. (I also like how it drops out for half-a-second before P. Diddy’s solo.)

It begins with a bit of performative plot (a ringing phone, “let me call you right back, we’re doing this mix tape right now…”) and drops into a little spoken intro that’s slathered in echo. The strings are impossibly distant, like Jordan and Daisy from The Great Gatsby listening to a symphony recording in a small corner of a vast, airy porch. I like the feeling of longing they create, both in general (their syrupy tone) and their liternalness (wanting to hear more). The chorus is catchy, and P. Diddy’s appearance is pleasant enough (I swear he drops a line about Western Beef, which is hilarious), but the whole thing is just sleepy sounding to me.