An Ode to My Favorite Cover in Recent History: "Feel Good Inc."—Little Simz
If I were asked to enumerate my favorite bass lines, off the top of my head, a tentative version of that list might sound something like this: Bill Wither's Lovely Day (Jerry Knight), M.E.D.'s Nightlife (Madlib, originally by the Bombers), Common's Be (Derrick Hodge), Tupac's Do For Love (despite its relative slimness, the bass I think is by Soulshock & Karlin), and, possibly my favorite of them all—Gorillaz' Feel Good, which is impossibly thick, nasty, stuffed with attitude, and never fails to conjure a vague image of some post-apocalyptic maverick, going about his own business in his own way. There's just something unspeakably cool and rebellious about it.
I hadn't—not that I could remember—heard many covers of the song, before this morning, when I became suddenly intrigued by the prospect, having noticed one of those little windows on Youtube advertising Little Simz' rendition of the song on Triple J (one of my favorite Youtube-channels). Despite the polarized reactions in the comments' section, I think she and her colleagues get it right.
To begin with the mood. The lighting is almost perfect: dim, with Simz and her darkly-clothed posse being illuminated only by the pale glow of the wall lamp and the Triple J lantern in the corner. Also, the way that the sampler's neon blue lights flicker on the operator's fingers and sunglasses gives the whole thing a slightly mysterious quality. It is, in fact, that sampler, I'm convinced, which is something of a key element of the performance: It plays the introductory laugh (an actual recording of one of De La Soul's members, prior to recording, in Albarn's studio), and also, crucially, the bass slide (at the end of the bass loop in the original song) with effects, giving it a kind of clangy punch. The bass line itself is extra thick, and Simz' enunciation of the lyrics is also refreshing (although I still can't make heads or tails of them), along with her intonation. Also, her rapping. Also, that guitar at the beginning. Everything really. Pure magic.
God bless the bass.