What’s the Best Hook of 2014 (So Far)?
You know what I love most about this glorious age of the internet? Videos of animals singing the Game Of Thrones theme song. Just kidding (but not really) my favorite part is the fact that super talented, yet unknown average Joes have the ability to share their music with us right along side the biggest names in the biz. If your music is dope it will get heard, Twitter verification or not. Case in point, Eryn Allen Kane. Since hearing Hollow in January, I have been eagerly awaiting more from her. Well, after 11,404,800 seconds (132 days) I finally got more. Kane handled the hook on "Burnout" from Chicago emcee Saba. It was only a hook, but boy was it worth the wait.
Sweet. Baby. Jesus. Shades of Aaliyah. After one listen, I was hooked (pun intended). No disrespect to Saba, he's not bad, but for me, this song is all about that hook. Still, sometimes, I get a little excited when I hear a song or artist I love and fall victim to hyperbole. In that moment it's my favorite thing ever, but when the dust settles, it turns out it wasn't as great as I thought. So, for the past week or so, I've been hesitant to call Kane's effort the hook of the year; I mean could the best hook of 2014 come from someone as new and, for lack of a better word, unknown as Kane?
Well, let's find out. Welcome to the latest "Question of the Week", what's the best hook of 2014?
Of course, before getting into the nominees, we gotta hammer out the guidelines right quick. Most of it should be obvious, but there's more. Normally, I am not one to base a "best" on popularity, but I feel like that's an important factor here. A hook can make or break a song, and often, if people remember one thing from a song, usually it's the hook. Take Pharrell's "Happy". Do you think that song would have over seven gillion spins if it wasn't for that infuriatingly intoxicating hook? Some of these may not be my favorites, but there is no denying their power. Also, for the record, we're using "of the year" loosely. I'm not going to include anything from last summer, but if a song came out in late 2013 and reached its peak in 2014, I consider that a 2014 song. So put away the flashing lights calendar police.
Now onto the music.
If you have been to a bar or club in 2014, then you know the power of "Drunk In Love" firsthand; girls lose their shit. Hell, even the guys do too. The hook takes this song and makes it a bad choices anthem. Where some of the following, might not be the best in terms of musicianship, Beyonce finds the perfect balance on "Drunk In Love". The hook is catchy, but it's also really well done. She could have gone the relaxed, off kilter route (to match the theme of the song) but her powerful vocals really give the song its bite. Can't nobody do it like Queen B. Where the some of the other super popular hooks lack substance (in my opinion), the "Drunk In Love" hook is the perfect balance between fun and artistry.
You know how above, I was talking about how some of my other choices don't have a lot to em? I was talking about YG's "My N*gga (Remix)". Might be the most simple hook of the year, but is also so damn effective. I really didn't want to like this hook, but it's hard to resist. I hate when the N-word gets rhymed with the N-word or it's repeated like every line, so in theory, I should hate this, but I can't. The way Rich Homie Quan's flanged vocals jive with the quirky beat is just too perfect. Singing it when you are white is not a good idea, at all, but it's still a fun, singable hook. Honestly, I can't tell you one line from any of the rappers, but I still like this song solely because of the hook. Also it inspired the best Vine ever.
When it comes to fun hooks, it doesn't get much better than the "Man Of The Year" hook. My tastes lie on the more traditional, boom-bap side of things, so ScHoolboy doesn't always do it for me. Because of that, the hook matters a lot more. I'm willing to listen to some drug-dealing, gritty bars if I know there is a great hook to keep me invested. "Oxymoron" was good, but it was hit or miss for me. The songs that were a hit - "Break The Bank", "Collard Greens", and "Studio" among others - all had one thing in common, a dope hook and "Man Of The Year" is the dopest of 'em all. It is so ostentatious, so over the top, it is impossible not to love. I feel like the king of the world whenever it's on; it makes me want to buy a yacht and throw massive parties on international waters. When you take in all the factors, fun, popularity, quotability and you know, how it sounds, this might be the best one of 2014. Titty, ass, hands in the air, indeed.
I hate Chris Brown more than I hate most people I hate, it came out in 2013 and it features Tyga. There are a million reasons why I hate this song, but the hook is not one of them. I want to hate it with every fiber of my being, but damn if that hook isn't fun as a barrel of monkeys. Every time I listen I comprise my core values and everything I stand for, but I keep listening solely because of that hook. That my friends is power. I may need to shower after every but I cant stop listening. The amount of times I have randomly sung "these hoes ain't loyal" throughout my day is borderline unhealthy; I love the hook and I hate myself for it.
Isaiah Rashad's Cilvia EP was a pleasant surprise. In fact, it's still my favorite, most listened to project of the year (that's a discussion for a different time). Another pleasant surprise this year, also from TDE has been SZA. So when the two came together for West Savannah you knew it would be dope...and it is. I think it's SZA's supporting vocals that make this hook so memorable. I love the way her vocals give off this vintage, jazz vibe; it is very refreshing and isn't something you hear too much these days. It might not be the most popular, or even the most quotable, but in terms of musicianship and depth, it's so much better than any of these other hooks. Also, it's about Outkast...what's not to love?
P.S.- That "Shot You Down" hook is a very close second.
These are all great, and exponentially more popular than "Burnout" but I don't care, I'm still saying Eryn Allen Kane had the hook of the year. It may not have a million plus pageviews, but in terms of talent and, you know, sounding amazing, it doesn't get better than this. I'll take Eryn's crooning over any of these other hooks everyday and twice on Sunday. It is so good, that any points it loses for not being as popular is more than made up for by her stunning vocals. In the end, talent trumps popularity, which is why I'm giving it the nod. It's very rare for me to skip to or rewind the hook-I'll just listen to the whole song instead--but I haven't listened to this song without replaying the hook at least once. Eryn may not be a household name , but with a hook game better than Tyson, it won't be long till she's leaving Breezy and Rich Homie Quan shaking in their Louie loafers.
After extensive research, I feel confident in calling Eryn Allen Kane's hook on Saba's "Burnout" the best hook of the year. But that's just my (obviously) subjective call, what does the rest of the Nation think is the hook of the year?
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is "College Dropout", but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @Lgarrison88.]