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“I’ll Be There” by Hitpapa (feat. Emtee)

Making rap that doesn’t fit inside of a box isn’t as easy as it used to be. There are new subgenres and scenes growing out of the cloud every day, but in the spirit of staying true to the identity of the genre, Hitpapa is experimenting with whatever melodic weapons he can get his hands on in the new single “I’ll Be There” – including collaborator Emtee’s vocal. These two have qualities that might lead some to think they’d have a hard time finding chemistry in the studio, but as it turns out their charms balance each other out to produce some very intriguing results here.

The dancehall beat in this single is a very exotic element, but it isn’t overshadowing any of the verses nor the melodic ribbonry from the adjacent instrumentation. This is an arrangement that lets Hitpapa get a little indulgent with the lyrics, but both he and Emtee don’t abuse this ability too much; personally, I think they could have gone a bit further than they did here. It’s lush but not quite as enveloping as it could have been, which absolutely bodes well for the remix potential of “I’ll Be There.”

I really dig this auto-tune on the vocals in this mix, especially as it adds to the color of the harmonies more than something more straightforward would have. There are far too many rappers who aren’t willing to go the extra mile with a processed vocal part, mostly out of fear that they might sound too plasticized in the final product, but Emtee and Hitpapa aren’t the least bit intimidated by this concept – they’re relishing it in “I’ll Be There,” and giving reason to think that a lot of their contemporaries have a serious problem with courage.

This beat is fire, and if the percussion was just a little louder in the mix I would have been happier with the overall thrust of the rhythm. The verses are gliding on the drums in this incarnation of “I’ll Be There,” but I would be curious to hear them taking over the backend of the track, surpassing the bassline and leading these lyrics rather than the other way around. There are still a lot of possibilities in this recording, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting whatever hybrid these players decide to produce in the aftermath of the song’s success online.

A little rough around the edges, but the soul of “I’ll Be There” is melodic gold that feels really sweet this time of year especially. The movement of the collective arrangement has the feel of a swaying palm tree in the breeze, and the infectious vibe it produces is powerful enough to make anyone who likes the softer side of the hip-hop genre a follower of these two players. Summer undisputedly has its own soundtrack, and Hitpapa is doing his part alongside Emtee to give us the right kind of beats to get the season started off right in this track and its accompanying music video.

Mindy McCall



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