sweet as the scratch

chicago bop

The best word to describe bop is "infectious." When a bop song comes on, listeners' shoulders invariably bounce. Their knees loosen and begin to wobble. It's like a squirt of WD-40 just hit all your joints and gave them the gift of fluidity.

It's pure dance music, highlighted by catchy choruses and slurred, playful lyrics about partying, punctuated by jumpy, digital, cell phone-style melodies. The production and lyrics combine for a candy-coated sound.

Chicago has an impressive history of dance music that sounds like nothing else. Bop is the latest incarnation of that eccentricity the city's music holds. It began in 2012 and blew up on YouTube in the summer of 2013, with hundreds of videos of kids' music and dancing being uploaded and some catching fire, staking their place as bop anthems and the turn-up music of the summer.

I live in Chicago and my place of work recently hosted a spring break camp for students. To get the kids pumped up for the day, we would put on music every morning. And every morning there were a couple songs the kids would inevitably request—D Low's "D Low Shuffle Pt. 2" and Silento's "Watch Me." We listened to them countless times each day, but no one got sick of hearing the songs. Each time they came on, people would run to the front of the room to show off their dance moves.

Like lots of music from Chicago, bop hasn't had a national hit yet. But its influences and sounds are found throughout rap and pop music. Silento's "Watch Me" has become an internet hit, spawning bunches of Vines with people dancing to the song. Even though he's from Atlanta, Silento uses some bop melodies in the song and references bopping in its lyrics, which pretty much just shouts out a slew of popular dance crazes, a la "Cha Cha Slide." A$AP Ferg remixed bop artist Sicko Mobb's "Fiesta" and Rockie Fresh (from Chicago, signed to Maybach Music) is featured on Sicko Mobb's "Drugs in Me," so it's clear that the national scene is aware of bop.

It seems like bop is the style of music that could foster a national summer hit in 2015. However, in the past the national scene has preferred to borrow bits and pieces from Chicago music (like drill) rather than embrace it as a whole. Chicago will be the outlier, while hints of its music will seep into the mainstream sound.

Bop, from the dance associated with it to the unbridled joy it provokes in listeners, is undeniable. The music's happy-go-lucky sound is in your face and the dance is too.

Listen below for a mix of bop tracks from the scene’s beginning in 2012 to today and don’t deny the bop:

0:00 "Flee" - The Guys - (2013)
2:59 "Save That Shit" - Chief Keef - Back From The Dead
5:03 "Heard Of Ya" - DJ Maine - (2014)
7:10 "Drugs In Me" - Sicko Mobb - Super Saiyan Vol. 2
10:50 "Feeling Good" - MBE - (2014)
15:13 "D Low Shuffle Pt. 2" - D Low - (2014)
17:54 "Killin’ Shit" - S.B.E. - (2013)
21:40 "Bop Like Me (feat. Breezy Montana)" - Lil Chris - (2013)
24:47 "Remember" - Stunt Taylor - Stuntn On Turbo
27:57 "Spaz On Em" - King Deazel - The Campaign
31:26 "Have A Party" - MBE - (2013)
34:31 "Watch Me" - Silento - (2014)

-- Bert

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