The Accidental Success and Freaky Legacy of ‘Wait (The Whisper Song)’
15 years ago, the Ying Yang Twins created a raunchy rap classic with a surprising shelf life
In the early months of 2005, hip-hop found itself, yet again, in a state of transition. Although The Game had just released his debut album, The Documentary, 50 Cent and his G-Unit juggernaut were beginning to show signs of strain. Free mp3s of new and unreleased songs were spreading around the world faster than record labels could shut down the zShare links. But perhaps most importantly, folks nationwide were finally beginning to admit what had been true for years: The sound of hip-hop had firmly taken root in Atlanta.
Teenagers in the A weren’t yet the defining shapers of modern culture as we know it, but things were poppin’. T.I. was molding himself into the Jay-Z of the South on the strength of Urban Legend, Young Jeezy’s trap-or-die ethos was about to explode, and the Aphilliates’ Gangsta Grillz series was setting itself up to become the most important mixtape franchise of the decade. Into this reality came the Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song),” a ridiculous, unexpected, transformative globule of pop culture freakiness. The no-frills track, composed entirely of vulgar whispering over a sparse instrumental, turned the ATL duo from strip-club anthemers into household names — and had fans and artists alike using their inside voices.
The style they developed turned down the tempo of Miami Bass — which got Atlanta’s asses shaking every Freaknik when they were growing up — but kept the same raucous, sexually explicit energy.
Like most hip-hop songs, the story of “Wait” begins with a beat. But the story of this song, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this month, doesn’t start with the beat you’d expect. Its history traces back to September 2004, when Mr. Collipark heard what The Neptunes had conjured up for Snoop Dogg’s sublime cruiser “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”