Every emcee is judged on their sixteens but what’s in between them is just as important.
You can have more bars than a jailhouse made of Snickers, but if the hooks are weak, it’ll be tough to get people into the song and keep ’em coming back. On the other end of the spectrum, a great hook can turn a good song into a smash.
But what is a great hook?
A great hook sticks with you like gum on your Jordans. A great hook will pop into your brain at random times throughout the day. For me it’s something simple, something that feels natural but also packs a punch. But who cares what I think?
Considering JL’s Strange Music debut is imminent, and considering one of the biggest takeaways from DIBKIS is his knack for anthemic, sing-along-able hooks, it seemed fitting to talk with him about what goes into his hookwork.
“I love to do hooks that are going to stick in your head and grab you” he said vehemently.
While a hook may seem to be window dressing to the untrained ear–something that complements instead of drives–it’s definitely a skill that takes honing.
Trying to create something catchy and simple can often result in the opposite– a forced, uncomfortable hook. “It’s a real skill to have,” said JL, adding, “It’s something you learn. It comes with progression. I know, for me, it’s become a whole lot easier to write hooks.”
JL’s Tyson-esque hookwork is something explicitly clear on DIBKIS, so, it’s no wonder that the natural sound stems from how natural, how spur of the moment some of the hooks came to be. “Password” is perhaps the best example.
“I went to Miami to work with ¡MAYDAY! and they had this beat. We were sitting in there trying to come up with something for it And I was literally trying to log on to the wi-fi. And I said ‘whats the motherfucking password?!’ but I said it to the beat and we all started cracking up. And were were like ‘That’s it!'”
It may have occurred naturally, it may be catchy, but don’t let the feel good, high energy vibes, distract you; Password delivers a message, “I pulled the concept around the hook. These motherfuckers ain’t working as hard. There’s a lot of people that win without putting a lot of through, time, passion, energy into it.”
Creating a hook that sounds good is one thing, but creating one that drives direction of the song while still sounding so free?
That’s some next level hook work, the kind you’ll find all over DIBKIS. For now you’ll just have to take my word for it… until the album drops this Friday.