"Swagga Like Us"

This late entry for hip-hop anthem of the summer (slated for T.I.'s new album) comes down to a four-way braggadocio battle – and with a beat this hooky, everybody wins. Still, Kanye West scores the best lines, including the succinct instant classics "My swagger is Mick Jagger" and 'Tm Christopher Columbus, y'all just the Pilgrims." And Jay-Z loses a couple of points for sticking in an overobvious nod to his single "Jockin' Jay-Z." Meanwhile, Lil Wayne's surreal, Auto-Tune verse initially sounds lazy but ends up mesmerizing with its lunacy: "I require what I desire," he drawls, "running this shit like I got four thighs." The song is built around a sample of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," marking the latest step in her belated assault on the mainstream, after the Pineapple Express trailer push for the same track. Good for her – except that it's hard not to be slightly bummed by the prospect of one of the decade's most innovative artists being reduced to a hook girl.

From The Archives Issue 1062: October 2, 2008
x