Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Fallin – De la Soul and Teenage Fanclub

There may be some artistic value hidden deep in the mix, but the prime concern with 99% of hip-hop collaborations is marketing ‘synergy’.  Like fancy fashion houses developing perfumes, the important thing is establishing the logo, and then attaching it to as many different markets/products as possible. Naomi Klein’s ground-breaking  No Logo may have established its thesis examining big name brands like Nike and Tommy Hilfigger,  but the system it exposed is equally valid for the business empires of Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Beyonce etc.

The genesis of the Judgement Night soundtrack was presumably no different. Take a list of big name hip-hop artists and put them together with big name rock acts, and you’re bound to get a ‘crossover’ hit (the same principle behind the Jay-Z Linkin Park album Collision Course). 

The brand in this case, though, wasn’t sufficiently robust to do anyone any good. The movie sucked, and the soundtrack album while recieving decent reviews and a reasonable amount of airplay, hardly set the world on fire.

Marketing synergy is ironic when it comes to the collaboration between Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul, fallin, that features on the album and is without doubt the best of these thrown together products (neither of the bands had met before the recording). The two bands are forever dismissed – with some reason – as slackers. Groups that should have been huge, but though filled with talent lacked the fire in the belly required for any world-class brand. 

The song breaks all the rules for this type of thing, and is all the better for it:

1) Since the days of Run DMC and Aerosmith the rule is that hip-hop goes with rock (the harder the better).  Even De La Soul seem in agreement, when recently they talked of doing another similar collaboration but with someone like Linkin Park or Korn

2) When two brands meet you have to push the bravado all the way. These slackers base a song not around bling, or pheremones, but about falling flat on your face –  a washed up rapper (‘and the teenage fans are heat’). Both groups need a serious lesson in self-promotion from a guru like P.Diddy ( How about a drive-by for starters? There’s seven of you involved, so we can afford to lose one – and it’ll create great publicity)

The song is glorious though, based around laid back guitars, a Tom Petty sample, and De La Soul’s characteristically sloping light-hearted rhymes. It wins the Monkey Tunes award for laidbackness, even though all involved sound like they’re firing on all cylinders, particularly at the end when the groove takes off. 


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