Observations Prompted by Roy Wood$ / by Maxwell Young

I was listening to Roy Wood$'s Exis project and found my thoughts venturing toward the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.  The OVO Sound member has an appropriately placed endorsement by the boss man in the catchy track "Drama", but other songs on the LP caught my ear in an unsuspecting way.  The singer/rapper from Toronto has the trademark melodic [lullaby] flow that is apparent in other artists under the label, like PND and the excommunicated The Weeknd. He elevates this trope a notch with the heavy-breathed passion and intensity Michael exuded. Songs "All of You" and the chorus of "Go Go Go" particularly seemed like derivations of his iconic sound that for a minute I thought I was playing "Jam". 

Hip hop and pop are essentially cousins.  When Michael Jackson was at the height of his career recording platinum record after platinum record (Off the Wall, Thriller, etc.) hip hop was in its infancy.  Rap groups like the Sugarhill Gang and Run DMC were just starting to enter and sort of popularize the movement.  Their impetus was the celebration and lamentation of the streets and the hustle, setting hip hop down a raw path that could be revered for its honesty and loathed for its commercial sell-outs.  As hip hop has expanded into different sub-genres, we've arrived at the point where both rap and pop have begun to intermingle, culminating with Taylor Swift inviting the likes of Fetty Wap to play his hits at her shows.    

Whether it was Roy Wood$ intention to utilize Michael's eccentricities, it's interesting to listen to how sounds and genres morph and influence future sounds.  When you think about it, the intersection of hip hop and pop was inevitable.  Artists run in the same crowds; Madonna dated Tupac,  Ye and Hov are 03's Bonnie and Clyde—some have connected and collaborated.  It was bound to happen.  The difference is it's 2015 and the young singer-songwriters who are entering the industry are millennials, so they grew up listening to not just Nas, Biggie, or Mos Def, but also Michael Jackson and even Nirvana--artists who helped revolutionize the sounds in music we hear today.