In the emerging influence of new wave, with all the feel goods of a summer jam, Jon Clawd’s “Fine Baby,” is a souped up version of the increasingly trendy Rich Homie Quan type of sound. Though he is a self proclaimed trap artist, you may not hear the traditional features of classic trap music.
Hailing out of Forsyth, Georgia (less than an hour’s drive from Atlanta), trap is clearly part of the influence. It may not be the most classic example of trap music, but the randomly placed trilling rounds of high hats ticking away under the mix does certainly meet the most important qualifier for this genre.
The drawback? This is hardly lyricism at its finest. Repetitions removed, this track is maybe 8 bars long. The lyrics tell a story of a booty call gone bad when the girl catches feelings which Clawd can’t return. In one moment of apparent emotional weakness he seems to believe he might actually end up with her, saying, “Look, if that pussy good as it look/ I just might fall in love that you cook” but the window of emotional openness is unsurprisingly short-lived. He repeats the sentiment, “I can’t make you mine, baby/That’s the bottom line, baby” which is in fact, not the bottom line. The bottom line is the one that always follows this repeated bar, which is a interjected sort of last-minute addition to the idea he’s trying to drive home, which to paraphrase is basically: “sorry, I just can’t commit to you. I really want to, but I can’t.” The actual bottom line follows as, “Even though you fine, baby.” Right. Can’t forget to tell her that. Way to let her down gently, Clawd. Clawd’s instrumental is actually pretty accomplished, and a lot more detailed and ornate than his corner of the rap world tends to gravitate towards. Stabbing synth swells in the open intro, and arpeggiated chords vividly create a nostalgic, inclusive sort of mood. In recent trends we’ve seen the drum accents in hip hop songs paired down to the most sparse of rhythmic backings, with some SoundCloud style songs including nothing but high hats, with the increasingly popular tendency to manipulate synthetic one shot drum sounds to the same effect. I see this song in its heightened take of a minimalist form as a positive contribution to a side of the genre which has gone from instrumentally sparse to almost comically threadbare (remember when kicks and snares were non-negotiable elements in any hip hop beat?)
Clawd’s vocal’s are reminiscent of that quirky era of hip hop when rappers suddenly became emotionally expressive, and started singing their verses (remember Tunchi’s auto-tuned singing phase?) It’s like that, except, maybe just a little more finessed. No shade on Wayne, though — who can argue with any of the Carters? Clawd seems to be falling in line with the new and the trendy vibes that old heads are having trouble getting behind.
If this is where the genre is heading, having an artist lead the scene who seems intentional, thoughtful, and loyal to his roots is a redeemable compromise. Bottom line, this song is good for what it is: like junk food, it’s good but not good for you.
Wait… no, actual bottom line: Yeah, You fine baby!