Patrick Stump Ft. Lupe Fiasco - “This City”SOURCE Alt Sounds / Vevo
Some people are just born with it. That special something that others take years to develop and master. Patrick Vaughn Stump is one of the lucky ones; a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer and still only 27 years old.
The majority will know him as the frontman for the hugely successful pop-punk quartet, Fall Out Boy, who have been on an indefinite hiatus since the end of 2009. With their fate in the balance, it was inevitable that he wasn’t going to sit around kicking his heels and letting his talent go to waste. So instead, he started listening to his heart and followed his natural musical urges, changing direction and drawing more from influences of the past. This change hasn’t only appeared in his new solo music but also in his appearance. It’s hard not to see the numerous pictures of his new slender physique circulating the net; no doubt even more reason for him to be feeling happier and more confident in himself. It’s out with the dark glasses, chunky hats and extra-long sideburns. And it’s in with the smart suits, colourful ties and model-esque profile poses.
In January 2010 the reserved and talented guy declared that he was working on a solo album and that it would be called ‘Soul Punk’ signifying the style he was aiming for. Despite being in essentially a rock band, his distinctive voice has always had a soulful edge to it and he has always claimed how much of an influence Michael Jackson and Prince have been on him. Hence I wasn’t too surprised when he said those were his main inspirations for his solo material. However, it turned out I wasn’t quite ready for what was coming. He released an EP called Truant Wave earlier this year as a teaser and I thought it was pretty good but not really mind-blowing. But then the official first single from Soul Punk titled 'This City' was unveiled in June and it’s quite simply a corker; the kind of moving, clever and brilliant piece of pop songwriting that legends like Michael Jackson would be proud of. And the hype has definitely spread, as a music video that despite only appearing online a number of days ago, has notched up a mammoth million views already. Patrick most certainly should be patting himself on the back. If he isn’t then I will gladly swim the length of the Atlantic right now just to do so!
With Justin Timberlake taking a lengthy break from music, there was definitely a big gap appearing where his electro-pop-R&B-dance shoes used to fill. I bet he's kicking himself as we speak. Rapper and fellow Illinois citizen, Lupe Fiasco, was enlisted by Mr Stump to inject his brand of hip-hop into the song’s remix which is the version in the sharp and ultra-stylish video. The song itself starts off with beautiful, uplifting synth chords before shifting into second gear with the kind of beat that Timbaland himself will be raising eyebrows to. Funky, groovy and every other word ending in “y” that’s cool basically. There’s a minimal feel in the opening verse with little instrumentation; just the beat and THE voice. He has never sounded so good on a recording, changing dynamics and pitch effortlessly and with the kind of bravado that I've rarely seen from him before. There are breathy pauses and soulful strong vibrato notes, plus that familiar raspy quality that I’ve always loved about him.
Right before the grand chorus smacks you in the face, there’s a lovely build up of bubbly electronic notes alongside his stirring words, “Forget all the drugs and gangs. Corruption and pollution. No!” clearly fighting for his beloved city. Chicago is THE city and he loves it. Yes he loves it. As the chorus brightly shines like a torch in a dark room, anyone with half a heart will be moved. “I was born and raised here. I got it made here. If I had my way I’m going to stay here for life!” he proudly declares. It’s best played loud at a ridiculous volume for full effect so warn the neighbours. However, be aware that you will need a visit from the Men In Black to have it removed from your memory. It would be wrong of me to not mention the production here as it’s beautifully crisp and clean, also begrudgingly brought to us courtesy of the Stump Talent Agency. And it’s more than pleasing on the ol’ ear-lobes making every instrument and note engulf your senses like an overwhelming firework display.
I could quite clearly write about this song til’ the cows come home so I’ll try desperately to wrap up! When Lupe Fiasco gets his moment in the spotlight, he cleverly and concisely fills the second verse with his view on the city in question. Known for his anti-establishment views in the media, it’s no surprise that the rapper uses this opportunity to get a few issues of his chest; speaking of “gentrification” and “fair education” before skilfully closing with “Despite all the above I love...” just as Patrick takes back the vocal reigns – “...this city!” And when the key changes into the final chorus there’s surprisingly even more energy, more harmonies, bigger synth and bigger beats.
This is quite clearly a new man with a new mission; to bring funk and soul back into modern pop music. From the sound of the impending album; a splash of punk-rock too. If that doesn’t get you excited, I’m not sure what will. One thing I am sure of, is that it’ll take the will-power of a saint to not get up and boogie to this piece of polished electro-pop that’s as sharp as his new image. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you. Much like what’s happened to the man himself I’m sure 'This City' will bring out the extrovert that’s been hiding in all of us. Welcome back Patrick. You’ve emerged out of the shadows and into the strobe light.