Utilising a unique keyboard voice throughout that sounds simultaneously spooky and as if it has been recorded/created underwater, On Ya Mark is a smart and fast-moving slice of savvy hip-hop pop.
This swirling sound (blended with what might have once been a Rhodes tone) is kept at arms length to begin, as is the rhythm section. Then, like someone opening the stage door, the kick drums and bass arrive in force to properly welcome us into the track.
The vocal rap that lays atop the undulating backing track is an intriguing mix of laid back and cool delivery that can suddenly syncopate unexpectedly to kick the rhythm and pace along. The vocal also meanders skillfully into melodic parts (and back again), creating half sung/half rapped sections that deliver a great sense of development for the tune.
Add to that some well-placed and deftly-mixed backing vocals (in telephone voice) and you have many a confection and potential ear-worm sprinkled on top.
A fiercely precise bass punches out notes with a warmth and depth that connect straight with your stomach, prompting you to invest further in On Ya Mark.
My favourite aspect is the lyric itself: ‘On ya mark / Get ready / Let’s go!’ These phrases, on their particular melodic path, really leech into the brain to the point where you look forward to their return on repeat listens. And all the while that swirling keyboard sound draws you in…
…And then it’s over; a dead stop, and a real slap in the face – but in a good way!