The second song that I am going to look into is titled Float Away by one of my brothers favourite artists, Melbourne local, Seth Sentry.
Ever since my siblings and I listened to “The Waitress Song” we have been big fans of Seth Sentry, having seen him live on multiple occasions. His easygoing vocals and upbeat vibe are definite selling points for me. Having just released a new single “Hell Boy” on June 5th he has reignited my interest in his music.
Float Away is the 7th track on Seth Sentry’s second album “This Was Tomorrow” and fits firmly within the constraints of the hip hop genre. This being said it is vastly more in the Australian rap and hip hop scene compared to for example, American gangster rap. The genre of course features a vocal style of rapping the lyrics compared to singing melodically. One of the issues rappers may face when writing music is that there is a lot more space to fill in lyrically compared to say an indie rock song where your chorus can purely consist of “Ho” and “Hey”.
This song in particular is in a 4/4 time signature and has a relaxed tempo of 100 beats per minute (BPM). When I was calculating the BPM I found myself counting double time which threw me a little, but when I counted every second beat I settled on 100. If I were the drummer recording for this track, a click of 200 BPM would have worked much better for me.
I'm pretty sure she said something like 'Seth you don't listen enough' I said 'yeah maybe you're right I can't help it, my mind drifts off And I'm not really here anymore but I'll try' She said 'while we're here on the subject I wanna know why you haven't grown up yet' I said 'don't be upset But I really didn't hear a fucking word that you just said' They said I'm disconnected, that's cool my friends are too though Can't hear a word you're saying, we watch it all just float away I see 'em all coming my way and now they wanna take my time I could tell 'em what's on my mind or I could just float away I am a boy in a bubble I am a boat in a bottle I would love to be here right now but I'm not I am anywhere else, I am gone They live life like there ain't no tomorrow I live life like there ain't no today All around me they beg, steal, borrow as they quarrel I just float away, I am gone Ground control to Major Tom, you can't keep being weird pal I'm a grown up, I got a beard now I got a job now, I got a roster Gots to make the boss proud He said 'when you're done cleaning glasses Make sure that you mop and the bar's swept' I said 'don't be upset But I really didn't hear a fucking word that you just said' They said I'm disconnected, that's cool my friends are too though Can't hear a word you're saying, we watch it all just float away I see 'em all coming my way and now they wanna take my time I could tell 'em what's on my mind or I could just float away Hey yo I never really felt like I know much About being grown up I am hopeless High school I would hang with the stoners Yeah I guess it probably takes one to know one I still spend a lot of time on my lonesome And money's still tight can you loan some? They said I'm disconnected yeah I just might be But all my friends are just like me I told a girl I wanted to be rapper Made her laugh she told me I was a crack up We were sitting on the grass in the back yard Next day faded drinking wine from a jam jar I said 'I don't have the keys to a car yet But I got a bag of weed and a sunset' She said 'don't be upset But I really didn't hear a fucking word that you just said' They said I'm disconnected, that's cool my friends are too though Can't hear a word you're saying, we watch it all just float away I see 'em all coming my way and now they wanna take my time I could tell 'em what's on my mind or I could just float away They said I'm disconnected, that's cool my friends are too though Can't hear a word you're saying, we watch it all just float away I see 'em all coming my way and now they wanna take my time I could tell 'em what's on my mind or I could just float away
Lyrically this song throws around the ideas of loneliness, distraction, growing up and being used. These feel like pretty big and deep topics to toss around willy nilly and I guess they are, I usually don’t take too much stock in lyrics. The interesting thing to note is that this is more of a pop song with a catchy upbeat vibe, quite different compared to the deep lyrical content of the song.
Hip Hop is a genre that has been around for quite some time, but only in the last ~15 years Australian Hip Hop has seen a rise in popularity. With artists like 360, pez, Drapht and of course Hilltop Hoods hitting mainstream radio play over the last decade, you can see how it is rising in popularity.
Due to the fact that this song is quite poppy the structure is very basic with little variations throughout. This is not indicative of the hip hop genre generally and is much more a pop music standard of song structure.
Instrumentally hip hop is extremely diverse. Almost any instrument can be found in a hip hop track these days. This song in particular employs the use of various synthesizers and drum loops. Compare this to another hip hop track such as “Cosby Sweater” by Hilltop Hoods, which in their live performances use acoustic instruments as well as sampled or virtual instruments. Regardless of the instrumentation used the key parts to a hip hop track are the kick, bass and vocals, generally accompanied by some form of catchy hook or riff melody section, all of which this song portrays to a good standard.
The percussion for this track is fairly standard when it comes to loop based hip hop. A hard-driving kick sound is the basis for the kit. Next is a fairly sterile snare sound that is a little lost in the mix; blurry. There is some extra processing for some of the snare hits, some widening of the stereo image with some reverb and panning. To go along with the snare there are some thin clapping samples used at the beginning and then later in the song. A crisp, dry shaker sound is present throughout most of the track, panned wide, most likely a stereo plugin. The cymbal sound has been dulled down immensely and is lacking in definition. Quite thin and washy.
The bass for this track is ever-present, thick and full of oomph, definitely promotes the urge to dance. Saying this there are moments where the bass could have been a little more controlled, less flabby and ill-defined. Quite a liquid sound. I would hazard a guess that this would have been a stereo subtractive synthesizer using either a sawtooth or triangle waveform at some point for modulation.
For the ‘hook’ or melody part of this song again employs the use of synthesizers, or at least a VST piano. The “plinking” piano hits are poignant and bright, wide stereo image. Sometimes they get a little lost in the mix with the bass. During the bridge there is a gentle, ambient string section type synthesizer. May actually be a sampled violin. Again this is panned quite wide.
Now for the big’un. The vocals. For hip hop the vocals are perhaps the single most important thing when it comes to production. This song displays many of the qualities that a hip hop vocal will generally have; such as the emphasis on some of the lyrics with the use of double tracked or gang vocals on the last word or two of the line and the use of a melodic chorus employing the use of many layered vocal takes. Double or triple tracking in general is very standard practice for hip hop. The vocal sound is very upfront in the mix which is standard when rapping is involved and is clear and detailed without being too sibilant or breathy. Throughout the song the focus of the vocal changes. During the verses the vocal is pushed to the front as it is centered within the stereo field and lacks a large amount of reverb. However in the chorus the multiple overlayed vocal takes are used and are panned quite wide within the stereo field and a more extreme reverb is applied. This pushes the vocal further back in the mix and lessens the focus on the voice.
If I was to give this song a new classification I would call it “hip pop” as it draws elements from both the hip hop (rap, production) and pop (structure, production) genres. But that isn’t for me to do so I will just leave this is a prime example of a professional hip hop production.