“Shake Your Hoodie”

So…I’m not a hip-hop guy. Retro-pop/rock, yes. Even funk. But hip-hop, with rapping?

And yet…

“Shake Your Hoodie” was a song I was especially self-challenged to create. As I’ve said before, working for Vermont Teddy Bear Company gave me an excuse to come up with goofy tunes in support of some of its whimsical and fun products, and by the time I left I had contributed no fewer than five tunes just promoting Hoodie-Footie Snuggle Suit alone (PajamaGram is part of the company).

So there I was at my job, and out of nowhere this little faux rap sprang into my head: “Shake your Hoodie if you love me / Shake your Hoodie if you {something something some-} above me”. The words didn’t matter as much as the fact that the vocal rhythms felt realistic for the idiom. I wrote the lines down as carefully as possible (in this weird hybrid notation I use) and said to myself, “Nato, you’re going to do your first, honest-to-God hip-top tune.”

First, just to make sure I wouldn’t stray too far off target, I took a little trip to Billboard’s Top Hip-Hop and R&B list (for August 2, 2011) to get a sense of what the current tunes sounded like. Regardless, I knew right off that I couldn’t get too electronic-sounding, as I didn’t have any sampling or autotune software, so my song was going to have to have a smoother, more old-school R&B sound.

Here’s three songs from that week’s top-10 that suggested ideas:

Artist: Big Sean
Song: “My Last”
Idea: Jazzy chords on piano
Impact on song: Fairly big

Artist: Nicki Minaj
Song: “Super Bass”
Idea: Backwards crash cymbals
Impact on song: Minor, but a nice addition

Artist: Lil Wayne
Song: “How to Love”
Idea: Slower “Back To Life”-ish drums
Impact on song: Substantial

Speaking of Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life”, a couple of decades ago that song was actually a big deal for me, and I seem to have logged quite a few hours dancing to its smooth “boom, ba-smack boom, boom smack” beat. Hey, as long as we’re looking at videos…

So once I got a sense of what might make for plausible hip-hop (again, it’s not what I usually do!), from there on out it was a ton of fun to make, including:

  • Coming up with the faux-hip-hop lyrics. Sample line: “Shake your Hoodie like a playa / Set it up on Foursquare, be your own mayor {‘may-ya’}”
  • Doing the rap. Oh, man, that took a lot of takes with all kinds of different styles. I tried it in my lowest Barry White, my whiniest Beastie Boys, and finally settled on something closer to my natural voice which, surprisingly, reminds me a little of Snoop Dogg. Totally unintentional, but, hopefully, adds to the funny.
  • Doing the multi-voice chorus. After I was done, I realized I seemed to have channeled 70s-era Michael McDonald for the high parts. Luckily, I’m a fan.

I hope you enjoy “Shake Your Hoodie”, but honestly? Don’t try dancing in one during the summer months. What use is looking so hot if you die of heatstroke?

Oh yeah. Lyrics!

Shake your Hoodie

Shake your Hoodie for the DJ
Shake your Hoodie so you show ‘em there’s a party in your PJs
Shake your Hoodie on the dance floor
Show ‘em somethin’ you don’t need a degree in finance for

Shake your Hoodie with ya homies
Shake your Hoodie if you want another somethin’ cold ‘n’ foamy
Shake your Hoodie on the weekend
Hoodie-Footie inna house, and we’re goin’ off the deep end

Shake your Hoodie, Hoodie-Footie, Baby

Shake your Hoodie like a swinger
Shake your Hoodie with the thumb holes, wagglin’ ya fingers
Shake your Hoodie, take a picture
Hoodie-Footie is the paint, and you’re the paint mixer

Shake your Hoodie onna freeway
When you wanna make ‘em look, Hoodie-Footie is THE way
Shake your Hoodie like a player
Set it up on Foursquare, be your own Mayor

Shake your Hoodie, Hoodie-Footie, Baby

Shake your Hoodie, Hoodie-Footie

Shake your Hoodie on the street, now
If you wanna get down, just zip off the feet, now
Shake your Hoodie when ya rock it
Go and stash all your cash in the kangaroo pocket

Shake your Hoodie for my vocal
Shake your Hoodie even if they’re sayin’, “Es un loco”
Shake your Hoodie for ya home crew
‘Cuz Hoodie-Footie Nation is the one ya comin’ home to

© 2011 Nate Orshan


Comments

“Shake Your Hoodie” — 4 Comments

  1. Hey, Nato. Came here looking for my weekly musical “fix” from my favorite YouTube musician… I have not been disappointed. The Hoodie-Footie rap is at once hilarious and amazingly authentic. Even without reading the accompanying blog-post, it’s evident that plenty of thought and hard work went into the making of this song. In my opinion, you totally nailed it.

    Your interesting and enjoyable blog-post is just the icing on the cake. I enjoyed reading about the creative process. I always find it fascinating to have a peek “behind the scenes” and to be able to study the decisions that culminated in a work of art.

    I’d subscribe to this blog if i knew how. Is there a way to get email notifications of new posts?

    • Hey Itai, thanks so much! I’m flattered, really.

      I’m glad that you also appreciate the “behind the scenes” part. It’s actually quite a challenge to write, because my first impulse is to just do a “data dump” that would be a bit off-putting for most readers. I have to be judicious with what I call attention to and only try to share stuff that I think is the most interesting.

      There may be some plugin that can convert the blog’s RSS feed into email, but for now your best bet may be to subscribe to the blog (at http://natosongs.com/feed/) and use, e.g., Google Reader: http://www.google.com/reader/view/?source=gmailnonewmail#overview-page.

      Thank you, thank you, THANK you!

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