In a recent interview with The Fader, Chicago footwork royalty RP Boo described the making of his upcoming EP The Ultimate and summarized first single “What Am I?” by saying “I was in my hotel room, and I was like, let me go try it out at this party. Soon as I played it, they went nuts. I said, Okay, got me a hit.”
And while the soulful electronic barrage of “What Am I?” won’t actually be crashing the Billboard charts, it’s easy to understand what Boo means. The sample of house singer Jocelyn Brown hollering “What am I supposed to do?” is the kind of yearning, nostalgic hook that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Kanye joint (I’m thinking particularly of “Sanctified” though it could be any number of Yeezy beats).
But in another producer’s hands the sample would be more wistful and weary. In Boo’s hands, Brown’s voice doesn’t sound heartbroken at all. With him, Brown sounds like she’s breaking glass. The drum claps sound like someone slap boxing with cement bricks. What risks sounding chaotic instead registers as carefully orchestrated and streamlined. So in that sense, Boo has a hit. Just a hit that could be weaponized at any moment.