We analysed the lyrics of Chris and Kem’s “Little Bit Leave It”
“Kem… I say I’m 5″10.”
Love Island alumni Chris and Kem “dropped” their video for their debut single “Little Bit Leave It” this week. Fair to say, it has some extraordinary reviews, so we decided to hop on the bandwagon and analyse the lyrics for deeper meaning (or lack thereof). We’re getting right into the nitty-gritty of language folks: this may get theoretical.
Let’s start with that “intro”. The ad libs, which go on for a while, are there to give the listener the impression that the lads are coming up with this off the top of their heads, even though the likelihood of Chris and Kem freestyling much less writing much of what follows is fairly low. Some art tries to draw attention to its own artifice and construction, this song would rather gloss over it.
When Chris claims to have “old school bars”, he is attempting to align himself with the great rappers of days gone by, highlighting that he is a hip-hop aficionado, or that he listened to NaS once.
The chorus is a thing of wonder: comprising of one line repeated four times, its symmetry makes William Blake’s “The Tyger” look like a mess. To what the pronoun “it” in question refers to is left for the listener to work out. The first calls back to the incidents in the chorus, such as “move to my chick”, but the doubling up of pronouns means that the second cannot really refer to anything at all. Perhaps this is what we like to call in English: a grammar cock-up, but perhaps we need to think more broadly.
Maybe Chris and Kem are reconstructing our understanding of language before our very eyes, whereby “leave it” becomes an entirely self-contained adjective.
As we can see ambiguity and fluidity of language are embedded into the fabric of Chris and Kem’s verse.
Kem’s verse also shatters boundaries of reality: when he claims to be “five foot ten,” he is, in fact, lying. He is much shorter than that. He also combines football-related imagery with grime diction: “had a league one chick, now my ting’s prem”(the “prem” referring to the premier leage in football, indicating that the new “ting” is much more attractive). Doing so allows Kem to draw in audiences who are fans of both.
Kem later asks “who the fuck is Theo?” a valid question: who the fuck is he? Equally, the “fuck” is the only curse word in the whole song, which shows that they are not above course and vulgar language, but they don’t overdo it.
Chris’s verse contains the best line in the song – or any song, for that matter: “Man like Cash Hughes, nut in the mouth like cashew.” Let’s unpack this. “Cash Hughes”, for the uncultured, is the name of the plastic baby Chris had to look after while on Love Island. The name facilitates the rhyme with “cashew”, however, Chris is building a subtle pun into his verse as the “nut” in this case could also be relating to a past sexual encounter. Audiences will look back at this line and on this verse as an era when hip-hop really got to the heart of real issues.
As the two bring their collaborative powers together later in the song, they imply that “your hair’s looking dead” and suggest that “you need a new barber”. Indeed, compared to them, you probably do: Chris and Kem are two very well-groomed gentlemen as a result of the expensive haircuts that making derivative music enables them to afford. The claim that one or both of them are “Stormzy’s mate” serves to legitimise Chris and Kem’s place in Grime culture and excuses them entirely for what may be perceived as a bastardisation of the genre.
It’s probably worth mentioning the video, where Chris, Kem and a few dozen people who may need to revaluate their life choices (particularly the fellow pictured above taking a bite out of the eggplant), shoot for P Diddy hedonism but land at N-Dubz.
The song ends with a focus on money, or “cake” as the duo put it. In addition to their fledgling music careers, they now have “calendars out” because why make some of the money, when you can make all of it? They subsequently boast that “there’s no stopping it” and they’re absolutely right: we’ll stop being fed shit when we stop eating it.
Perhaps Kem’s claim that “the rap life chose us” is a metaphor: where we are the rap life and we chose him by voting him through Love Island. Now that’s a little bit leave it.