Finding a center from which to operate is essential in any hip-hop collaboration, and it clearly was not a problem for Hitpapa and Emtee when they got together to make their new single “I’ll Be There” recently. “I’ll Be There” doesn’t waste our time finding its groove; by the time we get into the second verse of this track, there’s no debating that these two rappers have a mood they want to cultivate, and it’s going to start with the pace of the melodies that are filling the backdrop. I’ve been into melodic trap for years, but this is far too worldly and flexible to fit into the genre’s primary model.
The music video for “I’ll Be There” celebrates some of the more decadent themes you might recognize from hip-hop’s evolution across multiple generations, and aside from the sexually-charged undertow of swagger that dominates the main narrative in the visualizer, there isn’t a lot of the cockiness you might expect to hear out of a mainstream rap track. These are a couple of players that know the character of their music, and they’re not trying to stifle it with props that don’t fit in with the essence of their artistry.
Playing off of this beat rather than setting the tone with a hard-hitting chorus seems to work pretty well for the styles Hitpapa and Emtee rap in, and the superbly melodic setting certainly fosters all the more excitement in their exchange. This doesn’t feel like a freestyle, but instead a carefully orchestrated back-and-forth between two performers that are on each other’s level rather than trying to compete for the same place in the spotlight. The comradery is inspired and a good look for rap right now, especially with feuds on the international underground starting to metastasize all too expeditiously.
The indie hip-hop community is overflowing with really impressive talent at the moment, and these are a pair of rappers who are making waves together in a big way with this new single/video combo. “I’ll Be There” doesn’t float between subgenres but instead mixes influences together for a smart, lean sound you’re not going to hear just thumbing through new content making its way onto the deep channels of the underground. I like Hitpapa’s direction as well as that of Emtee, and it would be very interesting to hear them work together again potentially on another project as tempo-controlled as this track is.