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The posi vibes of bop can spread like a Dlow viral video, but for all the times the dance and its music have lit up parties or landed on TV, they seem to have hit a glass ceiling when it comes to public familiarity. Sure, Dlow’s “Bet You Can’t Do It Like Me” keeps growing—the bop king’s latest video is closing in on 50 million YouTube views. But a recent Wall Street Journal profile on Dlow makes it sound like his dance moves and his music sprang into being without precedent, which is a frustrating level of ignorance to see from such a respected outlet.
The article’s second paragraph begins with a quote from Dlow himself: “I’m trying to create a new genre,’ said Mr. Simmons, who calls his music ‘bop pop’ or ‘positive party music.'” I’m not going to begrudge Dlow this attempt at branding, even though his music is unmistakably related in spirit (if not entirely in sound) to the bop tracks that preceded it—who wouldn’t want credit for creating a new genre? But I’m less inclined to forgive the Wall Street Journal for apparently not even googling “bop,” which is already a well-reported phenomenon. I’m just not sure why it doesn’t get more traction in people’s minds. Though bop gets a shout-out in Silento’s hit “Watch Me,” which is so cross-culturally omnipresent that it’s soundtracked the trailer for a forthcoming kids movie about Troll dolls, the dance seems to be the last one anyone can name from the video.
So where do we go from here? The bop sound emerged seemingly fully formed a few years ago, bursting out like an effervescent, pixellated beam of light, and it hasn’t changed much since then. There are exceptions, such as cultishly beloved west-side duo Sicko Mobb, who’ve mutated bop from the beginning—their adrenalized version travels at nightcore’s cranked-up pace, and many of their tracks seem to hover with hyperactive energy. Sicko Mobb have stayed true to this energetic take on the sunny bop sound through three mixtapes, but some of their most interesting material lately has stepped away from that hummingbird buzz. For example, “This Is How We Rock,” the first track on last year’s overlooked Mulah mixtape, swings with slow-motion, gladiator-size strength thanks in part to producer Sinjin Hawke.
On Monday, Sicko Mobb released the third entry in their Super Saiyan mixtape series, which often strays from the typical Sicko Mobb sound but retains the lighter-than-air euphoria of their best material. The duo’s washed-out AutoTone coos help make their rhapsodies about cash and threesomes sound way more romantic than they have any right to be. Sicko Mobb open Super Saiyan Vol. 3 with two relatively experimental tracks, the finger-snap-happy “Digits” and the slow-moving “Throwin Money”; they’re not only two of the mixtape’s best cuts, but they also prep listeners for the curveballs that come further down the line. I can only hope that bop’s creative boundaries continue to expand from here.
Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.