Kim Kizyma
Graphic Designer + Creative Technologist


Blog Posts and Ideas by Kim Kizyma

Where would music be without nonsense?


On April 29th, Kayne released a new song called Lift Yourself. Kanye literally trolled everyone. And the song is his number one track on Spotify. The song almost also got on the Billboard 100 list. His joke of a song.

It's funny though. The song and production and everything is spot on. The sample is super on point. It samples a group called Amnesty's song Liberty. I would love to hear what Kanye actually wanted to say on this track...before the trolling. Either way, it got people talking. And people listening. He can literally say anything and get attention. We get that.

Kanye's verse, that he promised is 🔥:

Poopy-di scoop
Whoopity-scoop, whoop-poop
Poop-diddy, whoop-scoop
Poop, poop
Whoop-diddy-scoop, poop

"By any reasonable metric, the lyrics to "Lift Yourself" are complete and total jabberwocky: "Poopy-dee scoop/Scoop-diddy-whoop/Whoop-dee-scoop-dee-poop/Poop-dee-scoopty." But immediately washing your hands of them ignores a long, proud, defiantly pop tradition of gibberish in popular music.

Where would music be without nonsense? Louis Armstrong's epoch-making bedrock of the Hot Five Recordings are replete with scat singing in songs like 1926's "Heebie Jeebies" and "Skid-Dat-Dee" and 1927's "Hotter Than That." Even the most elementary rap scholar can trace modern rhythmic swag back to the Thirties work of Cab Calloway, who would pepper his songs with bursts of zah zuh zaz and hi de hi de hi de hos. The swing and jump blues that paved the way for R&B and rock and roll was replete with koanic classics like "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop" and "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee."

Rock's foundational years were full of trailblazers and pop weirdos alike dropping hits like "Sh-Boom," "Be-Bop-a-Lula," "Splish, Splash," "Ooby Dooby," "Do Wah Diddy," "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." At this point, what revisionist cynic would argue against the untranscribable onomatopoeia of the Chips' 1956 mumble doo-wop "Rubber Biscuit" or the Trashmen's 1963 proto-punk surf-snarl classic "Surfin' Bird," songs that transcend novelty status to merge with the ineffable. The 2003 comp Great Googa Mooga reveals an entire alternate universe of doo-wop and R&B sides with names like "Ookey Ook," "Oochie Patchie" and "Yacka Hoom Boom." If you feel like making a real connection to West's scatological scatting, you could do worse than the giddy 1960 groover "Loo-Key Doo-Key" by Floridan R&B shouter "King" Coleman. A wop bop a-lu-bop, a poopity scoop" (Rolling Stone).

"West's "Lift Yourself" may be the first rap song from a major celebrity to truly embrace the aesthetics of SoundCloud rap, the controversial yet incredibly popular music produced by Pump, XXXTentacion, 6ix9ine, Lil Skies and more. SoundCloud rap is marked by its punkish, lo-fi, sketchpad feel, short song durations; and depressive, emo-fueled lyrics. While "Lift Yourself" is uplifting instead of moody, and it uses classic Eighties sample-chop techniques, it does mirror the movement in its lean 2-minute-28-second run time, its focus on sensation instead of bars, its minimalist production, its feeling of first-draft-best-draft, the raw way it cuts off at the end. While rooted in decades of radio gaga, West is the only multi-platinum rapper grappling with the future's unleaded eskeetit."

Whether you're mad at Kanye for his political ideas or dropping this dumb song, you can't deny the fact that the song has traction. I think that this means something about power and celebrity. I'm not sure what, but it's something.