tremble clef

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ben Watt featuring Estelle, "Pop A Cap In Yo' Ass (Full Mix)" (2005)

Whatever, pron. and a.
[Orig. two words, WHAT A., B. and EVER adv. 8e.]

int. colloq. (orig. U.S.). Usually as a response, suggesting the speaker's reluctance to engage or argue, and hence often implying passive acceptance or tacit acquiescence; also used more pointedly to express indifference, indecision, impatience, scepticism, etc.: 'as you wish'; 'if you say so'; 'it makes no difference to me'; 'have it your own way’; 'fine'.

1973 To our Returned Prisoners of War (U.S. Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs) 10 Whatever, equivalent to 'that's what I meant'. Usually implies boredom with topic or lack of concern for a precise definition of meaning. 1982 San Francisco Examiner 7 May A3 When someone responds 'whatever', he or she seems to be saying 'I'm amenable to anything. I'll defer to you.' But in my experience, when a person says 'whatever', he or she is really saying, 'I don't want to take any responsibility. You do all of the deciding and then I'll pass judgment.' 1995 New Yorker 16 Oct. 131/2 You get to the point where it would be foolish to be surprised at anything. A sports bar opens. Then it closes. Whatever. 2000 D. WAUGH in J. Adams et al. Girls' Night In 529 The secretary admitted that the list had been 'temporarily mislaid'. Whatever.

2005 ESTELLE in B. Watt Pop A Cap In Yo' Ass. The rapped lyric of this arresting house record with the gurgling bassline and a earworm of a synthesized string riff tells a tale of a man named Mikey, who in "the old days" (alerting us immediately to the retrospective nature of the narration) used to shoplift. Small time stuff. He and his accomplices would take "expensive linens and towels," but bring them back the next day, claiming that the receipt had been lost, and use the credit for CD players or watches. This was before the days of iPods, you see.

"Things are different now." The narrator doesn't say how, immediately. She hasn't even said who she is. The neighborhood seems different, certainly, filled as it is with boys who posture and pose like the tough guys they're not. Pop a cap in yo' ass. But the boy she and Mikey had? He'll be eleven months soon, and he's got his dad's eyes. "I haven't seen Mikey for weeks. I don't really listen when people say the things they say about him. He's not a bad man. I want him back whatever. I want him back whatever." Here, while acceptance, acquiescence, indifference are implicitly professed, they don't seem real, or are at least only defensive. Resigned. Hopeful. Hopeless. "I want him back. Whatever."


  • At first I thought this was a really awful song. I'd loved Estelle's solo material but this just didn't do it for me.

    Then about 2 weeks later it just clicked. The bass is awesome.

    Shame it didn't do well.

    By Anonymous trixie, at 6:59 PM  

  • I also like the tap-tap-tap sound near the end of the song. I always imagine Ben Watt sitting at his typewriter making them.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 9:22 PM  

  • cool blog entry! I agree with both of you. The first time I heard it I only liked the voiceover but didn't really feel the old-skool house parallel synth chords. But eventually it really brought home the London tenement-house dark poetry vibe to me. Those tap sounds are cool, probably a clap sample. And lastly, the line "It must feel good with his chops and his Shox, no longer just another kid from the blocks" is simply classic, no wonder Ben repeated it.

    By Blogger gabriel, at 3:48 PM  

  • Oh yeah I like how you tied in the use of "whatever" into the blog entry especially! However I think what makes this interesting is that it isn't the normal way of using it in slang. She means it in the sense of "no matter what" which is definitely not how it's usually used in the US!

    By Blogger gabriel, at 3:49 PM  

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