I myself have been guilty of listening to Cardi B and Migos tracks on repeat, and I believe I’ve found one of the secrets as to why her tracks can be left on repeat. It’s not so much the mixes, which are always on point, and are some of the best I’ve come across as far as clear, loud, creative mixes, but rather the arrangement of the tracks themselves. As a case study of sorts, I’ve decided to map out the song “Drip (feat. Migos)” by Cardi B off her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, and while I was at it, created a similar sounding track, with an identical arrangement, which I’ve screenshotted below.
For this track, it’s easiest to think in blocks of 8 bars. Follow along with the above screenshot, and note the different color blocks differentiating different MIDI patterns. I’ve gone ahead and segmented each part of the song in terms of Intro, Chorus, Preverse, Verse, and Outtro.
The track starts with the melody line, super rigid on the spectrum, only audible from about 300hz-1khz, leaving tons of room for drums and vocals. The 16 bar intro serves the purpose of introducing the melody and letting the ear settle into a relatively quiet part of the arrangement. The drop goes right into the chorus, which is split between Cardi B and Migos respectively, each of the vocalists getting 8 bars. Arrangement-wise, the chorus is interested because it introduces another melody, and also takes the first melody and simplifies it, every 4 bars pitching it down an octave.
After the chorus comes a 8 bar pre-verse and a subsequent 16 bar verse. In the pre-verse, the melody stays in the lower octave, and the second melody drops out. The drums are cut out, creating a contrast between the chorus and the verse, but the drums are put back in the mix when the rest of the verse comes in. Some percussion and hats remain omitted from in the verse so that when the chorus drop again, there is a perceived increase in the overall energy of the track.
By looking at the screenshot, we can see that there are two repetitions of Preverse->Verse->Chorus. What comes after is what I have found to be the “replay factor”. After the third chorus, there is a quick, 12 bar verse from Quavo that breaks the previously set pattern in the song. There’s no pre-verse, and it leads right back into the Chorus and Outtro. This simple arrangement essentially allows for a chorus that’s twice as long without annoying the listener. In the last minute and a half of the song, nearly a full minute of it is the chorus, “Came thru drippin”.
The split-chorus, combined with the short verse separating the double chorus gives the song the ability to immediately become stuck in the listener’s head, while still providing variety upon repeat listens. This technique is a great replacement bridge, which can be hard to fit into a hip-hop or RnB song. My old jazz history teacher, Bill Ellis, used to say that you can tell a good songwriter by the quality of their bridges. In the lazy world of computer-production and volumes of hip-hop beats, I think this is an excellent workaround that’s easily replicable.
Thanks for checking out my breakdown of this Cardi B / Migos track, I hope you enjoy my rendition of the beat as well, which I’ll post below. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @mastr.prod for the latest updates at MASTR Productions.
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