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Gyptian - 'Hold You'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:37 UK time, Monday, 8 November 2010


You can accuse Nicki Minaj of many things; having an expense account at the My Little Pony wig shop, deliberately encouraging Will.I.Am; but you can't deny her ferocious work rate. She just seems to pop up EVERYWHERE at the moment. On her own songs, on other people's songs...I wouldn't put it past her to invent a time machine and go back and offer her services on every recording session which ever happened anywhere, with everyone from the Beatles to Napalm Death suddenly getting a honeyed rap about how great she is at her job.

In fact, we're getting perilously close to a situation where every new song has to have an alternate version which features a guest verse from the 'Naj. This one certainly does. It's as if she is basically tuning into the Top 40 every week, and singing along, just like you are. Only she doesn't get interrupted by younger siblings, and you don't have the hair.

(Here's the video. You can't park that bike there!)

Now, the first thing to say about this song is that a lot of people are unsure as to how to spell the title. I've seen 'Hold Yuh' (in America), 'Hold Ya' and the more grammatically correct, but less sonically accurate 'Hold You'. This is just an unfortunate side effect of Gyptian's accent, which is brilliantly thick and treacly on record, but loses something in translation when written down.

Why, I myself have been struggling to find a way to capture a written version of the best moment of the song - the last line of the chorus, basically - which doesn't render it either stiff and starchy, or worse, embarrassingly Groovy Dad. Nothing kills the fun of a new song like a Groovy Dad doing a bad impression, just to prove that he's still 'got it'.

Here's what I've come up with so far: "Gal you give me the tightest hold me ever get inna my life"

That's the good bit. That's the bit which should, if you're at all won over by this tightly circling spiral of a song, melt you a bit. That's the bit where Gyptian's honest wail should take you back to a time when someone gave you the best hug of all time; a hug so astonishing that even the memory of it can still wobble the knees.

As a song, it does run out of itself towards the end, being so very heavily dependent on that one melty bit, and unable to wander too far away from it in case everyone else does too. But that's OK, it's a good enough melty bit to keep the attention long enough to do its job, and even if it pales over time, that's nothing that can't be fixed with a little bit of Nicki majic.

Four starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Blogcritics says: "Sugary melodies that can put listeners, or by the very least women, in the mood for love."

The Reggae Review says: "Crossover, only in the sense of Gyptian breaking down the doors of so-called 'Popular Music' and forcing his way in without compromising."



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