Radio stars, sorta
Erin McAuliffe | Monday, April 27, 2015
With the recent T-Pain resurgence, due to a bomb South by Southwest showing and (grossly untrue) rumors that he was going to play Legends, I have been reflecting on one of the most underrated and, as of late, underused music strategies: introducing your song as if it is airing on the radio.
A recent listen to “Kiss Kiss,” a Chris Brown/T-Pain anthem, sparked my interest in this strategy. What better way to gather hype than to act like your song, no matter where or how it is played, has been selected by a DJ and introduced with aplomb.
I have compiled a few of the most strategic radio introductions to date.
“Kiss Kiss” — Chris Brown feat. T-Pain
This 2007 club/middle school dance banger starts out with an introduction to Nappy Boy Radio, an ode to T-Pain’s label Nappy Boy Entertainment. The caller expresses his excitement to “be on the radio with T-Pain” and when he addresses concerns that his girl “ain’t doin’ her things she used to do, at all,” T-Pain shamelessly and without hesitation plays “just what he needs” — his own track. So, we are 26 seconds in, the song hasn’t even officially started, and T-Pain has already hyped his label, himself and his track. That is what marketing dreams are made of, folks.
“Protect Ya Neck” — Wu-Tang Clan
The intro to this track was taken from an actual call into a City College of New York radio station. The DJ asks the listener what he wants to hear, to which he responds, “I wanna hear that Wu-Tang joint.” “Wu-Tang again?” the DJ asks. “Ahh yeah, again and again,” the listener/Wu-Tang hype-boi responds as the track fades into the Clan’s debut single.
“B.O.T.S. Radio (featuring I-20)” — Ludacris
In this radio interaction, callers discuss their relationship problems with a DJ who calls on Ludacris to play “love doctor.” Fitting with the theme and title of this album, the track focuses on a “battle of the sexes” mentality with back and forth between Luda and Shawna and a rebuttal by I-20.
“Radio” — Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and MC Ren
A scan of channels spanning techno to Caribbean beats is followed by a listener’s call into K-EAZY-E radio. The listener requests, but of course, Eazy-E’s “Radio.” The lyrics that follow can only be described as legendary, and I wish I could quote them all, but due to lack of space, here’s all you get: “Eazy-E rockin’ nonstop on the radio with the funky fresh hip-hop in stereo.” And also, a self-hype verse to rival Kanye himself: “So just kick it and listen to the station playin’ my music, it’s hard to lose it / It’s constantly on request cause you choose it.”
“Workout Plan”/“The New Workout Plan” — Kanye West
This song may not fit the “radio intro” bill exactly, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important rap song introductions OF ALL TIME and therefore needed to be on this list. “Workout Plan,” a discussion amongst female friends surrounding one of the friend’s success with Kanye’s workout plan, acts as the intro to “The New Workout Plan” on “The College Dropout.” Important fact: This in reference to a VHS tape. A VHS tape Kanye wants you to pop in and get fit to for free.99.
“The New Workout Plan” picks up where the intro left off, delving into Kanye’s VHS audio which will instruct you in how to pull yourself a rapper or an NBA player — apparently Kim K followed the workout plan exactly. Kanye continues to count out your sit-ups and encourages you to eat salads and skip desserts so that you can pay your phone bill, quit your mall job and date outside the family. Don’t say Yeezy never taught you.
Make sure these tracks are on your iTunes; don’t trust the cloud with precious cargo such as this. With the increasing prevalence of streaming, radio is in dangerous territory. Already places like Norway have scheduled the end of FM radio. Video didn’t kill the radio star, but streaming just might. Thankfully, if radio were ever to go extinct in the U.S., we have these tracks to encapsulate its essence and force our grandchildren to listen to.