How does DJ Mustard do it? I can’t claim to have completed his entire production discography, but I’ve certainly caught a big chunk of it, and I’m always impressed. After breaking through with Tyga’s Rack City, he’s steadily delivered a mixture of mainstream favourites and slept-on speaker rattlers, and here he serves YG with what’s sure to be another big hit for him.
The common factor in Mustard’s production is sheer simplicity (and clean mastering), and that trait continues here. Those clean layers work their independent magic here, with those trademark dark synths accompanied by ominous keys, catchy claps and a healthy dose of bass; each layer is very distinct from the others, and not only does that contrast allow for appreciation of each element, but it’s the track’s pacing and rhythm that ties them all together into a bouncy, head-nodding affair. At heart, it’s quite a sombre, moody production but the sum of the parts ends up being a much funkier listen than it has any right to be, though of course that’s helped by the contributions of YG and Drake, who both ride along this beat smoothly. YG’s rougher delivery works with the grittier elements of the production well, whilst Drake’s quicker flow is a great compliment to the percussion work, and arguably steals the show.
A probable mainstream hit, and a definite addition to any car playlist worth its salt.
Consider this one of those odd situations where I’ve been listened to a track for quite a while, but just forgot to share it with everyone. It’s been a fixture in my playlists for a couple of months after stumbling on it completely accidentally (it got automatically played by Soundcloud right after I was listening to something else), and offers a nice refresh of the popular single from Kendrick’s GKMC album.
The original’s production wasn’t exactly lacking in gentle or smooth qualities, but this takes those elements and really enhances them a great deal. The entire original beat is stripped out, and in its place come airy, delicate synths, feather-light piano touches and light, unobtrusive percussion- it combines into a relaxing production that feels excellently suited to a summer evening. Kendrick and Drake’s raps were far from aggressive on the original incarnation, and hence here their laidback qualities are enhanced even further, with the production infusing a more easygoing vibe into their flows and vocal work, versus the occasional jagged edges (not a criticism) found in the Janet Jackson-sampling source work. Definitely worth giving a go, and a simple yet effective twist on the enjoyable original.
A lot of readers won’t like this at all, but there’s something about the retro funk take on the ubiquitous Drake single that’s quite endearing. It’s not technically perfect or the cleanest cover in the world, but instead is a rough-around-the-edges slice of bouncy alt pop that makes for fun listening.
Stripping out the R&B-styled production, Holy Ghost! throw in a set of chunky synths, some airy and some disco-esque, taking the track from being geared around a teenage girl’s alone time listening (not criticism as I listen to it too, but then I’m essentially a teenage girl) and to a teenage girl’s pre-night out listening. The vocal work is fairly laidback, though opts against the whispery tones Drake went with, and instead for a clearer, crisper style that plays off the buzzing synth work well.
Worth a go if you liked the original, but not one that will exactly convert those who don’t like the track as it is.
So unexpected is the relative flurry of recent material from Lupe, that I’m actually slipping a little with keeping on top of it. Minor problems though, and I expect this freestyle over Drake’s Pound Cake beat will be many listeners’ favourite Lupe track from the batch released in the last few months.
As I’ve not listened to Drake’s album yet (not a vendetta, just no time!), this is my first exposure to the laidback production and it’s rather impressive. Its atmospheric R&B qualities are reminsicent of various highlights from Drake’s back catalogue, and is not only very enjoyable but serves as a backdrop you wouldn’t normally associate with Lupe. It works really well for him though, with the moody, introspective beat adding a great accompaniment to Lupe’s stream of consciousness, which manifests itself as a pack of individually clever lines, and entertaining couplets. It’s all packed into a very unique flow, with the brief pauses usually found around smart points of juxtaposition, as he skillfully knots rhymes together that are equally effective when seperated- it’s a memorable delivery that’s utilised well to almost get double usage out of the most simple conjoining terms. Really worth a listen, and bestowing this the Paris, Tokyo 2 title only goes to show that this isn’t just throwaway rap- Lupe’s taken this one rather seriously. Tetsuo and Youth, coming soon.
The Weeknd’s Kiss Land album was officially released yesterday, and he looks to bump the buzz around that project with this video release. Viewed by many as a semi-reconciliation with Drake (despite the fact a problem probably never actually existed), it’ll get some buzz for that, but it’s also a strong choice based on their collective brand power, built on by their previous mainstream successes together (notably Crew Love).
My audio review was clear on the fact it didn’t quite sit alongside The Weeknd’s top tier work, but also praised this track’s individual merits. One factor that prevented full commitment to the song was its contrasting motivational and dark qualities, but this video does help with picking the element the track should have been highlighting, that being the darker, more atmospheric side. It’s a gritty, industrial clip that’s buried in a surly dimness, with many of the shots doused in a thick darkness, whilst the far-from-glamorous backdrops that both acts perform in front of adds a visceral, wintery vibe that definitely tucks the livelier side of the track away. In doing so, it definitely elevates the song quite considerably, giving it a much clearer direction and hence allowing for a strong audiovisual synergy.
If you weren’t into the audio on its own, give the video a go and it might just bring you around, if only a small amount.Kiss Land available everywhere now.
Right now, The Weeknd is relentless in his promotional run ahead of the upcoming Kiss Land album, and lets loose yet another single (the 4th, by my count) from the project, this time giving the reconciliation (if there ever really was an issue) between himself and Drake a tangible output.
Initially, you may struggle with this. It’s an unusual blend between motivational and creepily dark, but as the track progresses it’ll wear you down a little. The production opens with lonely, sombre guitar plucks for the first verse, before an intense, piercing percussion throws its weight around on the hook, almost entirely overshadowing the aforementioned guitar work, though it does remain there to offer consistency. Remnants of that drum line hang around for Drake’s verse to keep some of that vibrancy intact, and make the transition to the second and final hook rather less dramatic- credit goes to the dynamism of the board work for being non-static, unpredictable and flexible. It’s the lyrical output that lets this one down, with a sole focus on bragging and arrogance, which doesn’t really maximise the qualities of the atmospheric production they’re backed by. Though it’s not a performance on the level of previous Kiss Land releases, The Weeknd’s vocals are generally good throughout, and will undoubtedly help make this hook a popular, singalong effort within mainstream crowds (much like Crew Love), even if its nowhere near his best work. When Kiss Land drops on 10th September, I’ll likely be skipping this track.
Drake’s singing again, and if you listen closely, you can almost hear the sound of thousands of female Drake fans simultaneously superglueing pictures of Drake to their underwear.
A rough radio version leaked earlier, but here goes the official stream, courtesy of the man himself. It’s actually quite interesting to have Drake back in R&B/pop mode; call it novelty, but he does these efforts so rarely these days that it’s a nice surprise when he does. It’s incredibly poppy and nothing I’ll likely listen to after a week, but his hypnotising vocals are undeniably catchy, and the bedrock of what is a surefire mainstream hit- clearly, his previous singles didn’t quite crash the chart party as he would have liked (even if they were far more impressive to the hip-hop audience), and this is clearly his safety option to ensure he shifts some numbers when his album lands in September. It’s not quite as “R&B” as some of his previous singing-oriented work, and seems to make little attempt to hide that, but pop fans could probably do a lot worse than this.
Drake’s recent releases have been much improved over the set that preceded them, to such an extent that my once-famed distate for his work seems to have been forgotten. Well, this might ease me back in the ‘dislike’ direction.
It’s lyrically similar to Started From The Bottom, with the bottom-to-top theme running rampant throughout both Drake’s semi-sung hook and his relatively-intense verse. Credit to him for the latter; his work is generally beginning to pack in much more intensity, which at the very least makes for a departure from his once-monotonous style. However, his lyricism is a little forced throughout, and comes across as a little too light-hearted to warrant the more aggressive delivery he’s chosen here, whilst the dark, somewhat flat production doesn’t help paper the cracks of his songwriting either. I’m all for moody productions, but this doesn’t ever commit to a particular sound (atmospheric? angry? night drive?), and rather just plods along quite arduously, with none of the three rappers offering much to save it- closest thing to replayable is Big Sean’s closing verse, which cycles through a couple of different flows to relatively good effect. Otherwise, this is pretty skippable all-round, and will remain that way when it lands on Nothing Was The Same.
Any links to the original are hardly noticeable in truth. Under SBTRKT’s influence, it has become a glitchy, experimental production that throws together stop-start percussion, a plethora of crisp, piercing melodies and a touch of James’ vocal harmonies, with the latter being the only obvious connection to the original. Given that it doesn’t have the smooth, sultry vibe of Drake either, it can be fairly taken as a piece independent to the original, and in that light it’s a relatively easy listen that I’m sure many chillout electro heads will be really into.
Sidenote: there were 4 Drake releases yesterday, but I’m only posting 3 as the 4th was terrible.
If Jodeci Freestyle appeals slightly more to the guys, this one will most definitely reel his extensive female fanbase back in, with Drake making a rather rare return to his singing style throughout.
The hook features Drake’s once-trademark drifty vocals, and it’s actually quite refreshing to hear them again; his attempts at being seen as a rapper first and foremost have almost hidden this side of his work, despite it being a facet which actually makes his mainstream work slightly more bearable. The verses offer a hybrid rap-singing delivery, and it’s one that works well to add depth to the stripped-back, barely-there production in the first verse, whilst his slightly alteration in flow for the second takes advantage of the increased percussive element. Sampha’s backing vocals make for a nice alternative layer, with their natural melancholy enhancing the more spaced-out elements in the production. Probably not one with a massive shelf-life as it gets a little boring, but a good addition to those chillout playlists.
Remember when these two supposedly didn’t get along? Hip-hop gossip columns seemed to pull back on that pretty quickly, and certainly recent events show that they’ve got a pretty good friendship. Not that anyone actually cares.
It’s unknown whether this will feature on Drake’s upcoming LP, but I expect he could do a lot worse than include this, a good all-rounder with a vibrant, opulent production reminiscent of the type you’ll usually find on a Rick Ross album. From the laidback, pillowy percussion through to the smooth frontend melodies, there’s definitely a summer vibe running through this one, above which Drake moves through arrogant raps and barbed lines at his rap peers, before Cole closes with a more easygoing performance that opts to ride along with the beat rather than contrast it. Of course, it’s hardly a lyrical masterpiece, and I suspect nor is it intended to be, but it’s a welcome bit of summer hip-hop given the relative darkness that the ‘the big three’ rap albums had vast amounts of, on their release earlier this week.
The first of four releases from Drake last night, along with the announcement that his Nothing Was The Same album is due for a 17th September release. Roughly translated, that’s far enough away to let Jay-Z take the summer. Also revealed was the OVO Sound label imprint, with an accompanying website, a label which PND is a part of- his debut mixtape is due out on 1st July, and this latest release should amp up that buzz considerably.
It’s another solid R&B release from PARTYNEXTDOOR, with a likeable production that contrasts atmospheric synths with tribal-style percussion for a mellow sound with a little liveliness thanks to those drums. There’s almost something ‘island’ about certain elements of the beat, and when combined with those sombre synths, it creates a nighttime beach vibe that’s easy to enjoy. PND’s vocals are again heavily Autotuned though not distractingly so, with their sharp, digitised nature not taking too much away from his synergy with that backdrop, whilst Drake’s verse is a welcome break from PND’s computerised crooning. A relatively easygoing R&B jam that Drake fans should enjoy.
My views on this were relatively neutral on the track’s release: I had time for Drake’s smooth hook, but the verses didn’t really stick around in the brain for long. Nothing’s changed, but I felt like reiterating that view.
It must be said, the video’s actually quite a fun watch though. Most of it is shot through an old-school video camera style, including the timestamp of May 15th 1996, and it adds a fun retro vibe to a mainstream track that threatened to come across as a little too serious. In that sense, it’s almost the inverse of I’m On One, a track that came across as fairly upbeat on the audio release, but got slightly moody once the video emerged; working this way around should help this effort’s cause when it comes to TV playtime, with the clip’s colourful and busy nature adding the ‘excitement’ the track’s slow pace fails to bring.
I’m still not hugely into the track, though it’s not the instant skip that many of Khaled’s efforts tend to be, and credit for making the video a relatively lighthearted watch. Expect this to dominate airwaves this summer.
If the earlier release had under-21s (and over-21s, let’s be honest) stroking their Drake poster, this one might provoke a slightly more pronounced reaction. I’ll stop there as I know there are folks under 18 that’ll be reading this, but the rest of you know where I was going with that.
Drake’s penchant for old-school R&B is no secret, with several odes and references to the genre across his career, and here he (sort of) remakes Say My Name, with the aid of the ever-excellent James Fauntleroy. Of course, it’s not exactly meant to replace the original, but instead comes across as a bit of fun and a semi-return to the R&B style that won many over back in ’09, though his hybrid rap-singing delivery in the verses does mark a return to monotony-the moments that he leans more toward one side than the other are his vocal highlights here. Fauntleroy does a nice job reinterpreting the iconic hook, staying true to the original and adding a soulful twist, whilst the sultry, minimal production works to further rework the track into something that closer resembles a slow jam than the angsty, attitudinal R&B vibe of the Destiny’s Child piece. It’ll get a couple of plays for novelty, but it’s nothing that’s going to hang around for too long.
Whilst I’m surprised Khaled has any friends, I’m going to assume SFTB (Started From The Bottom) is the inspiration for the track title given the ‘no new n*****’ line in the original. The intermittent samples of the track also sort of give it away.
Much like the last time most of this lineup came together, the verses are pretty forgettable and it’s all about Drake back on hook duty. Around 2010-11, he was certainly viewed as one of the go-to hook guys, but has scaled back that reputation in favour of contributing either guest verses or nothing at all; rare exceptions include Rick Ross’ Diced Pineapples, which was a nice reminder of his ability in that field, and this will undoubtedly bring the memories of that period flooding back. It’s a gentle and R&B-esque chorus, but is immeasurably better than those offered by today’s hook-heavy acts (looking at you Future), and benefits from surrounding verses with poor production and average verses. What’s that sound you ask? It’s women below 21 once again stroking the Drake posters on their walls (an adult female once told me SFTB was too “gangster”), and for that reason this will end up being a club hit this spring.
On the audio’s release, I heralded this as Drake’s best release in years and that’s definitely still the case. Put it this way: it still gets plays in my car, which is more than can be said for most of his relatively recent work.
The video doesn’t necessarily do anything to embellish the track, but for a track of this ilk, it’s probably wise not to apply an unecessary layer of ‘storyline’. Instead, Drake’s simpler style is rightfully paired to a set of dimly-lit visuals, from monochromatics to dark club scenes, and that helps bring out the producton a little more whilst adding to the realism and believability of Drake’s raps. I’m obviously not forgiving him for his shower of (generally) terrible work that preceded this, but the simple, mostly natural clip wil go some way to restoring a few hip-hop fans’ faith in the guy. At least he isn’t throwing up gun fingers or threatening to ‘catch a body’ and such. Baby steps.
He’s made himself very easy to criticise over the last year or two, both with his output and general being, and whilst signs of redemption have been rare, this is most definitely one to get the hip-hop fans back on board.
The key component here is he sounds believable, for once, as his usual monotony is replaced by genuine emotion. There’s natural aggression, intensity and spark, and he sounds legitimately aggrieved on every line he delivers, a facet which adds passion and credence to each of his lyrics, which themselves will create plenty of discussion: there are several wide-reaching shots (I could load every gun with bullets that fire backwards, you probably wouldn’t lose a single rapper is a personal favourite), some more focused (It’s funny when you think a n**** blew up after Lupe), and some that probably aren’t aimed at anyone but will be perceived as so (including a supposed shot at The Weeknd). Aside from the gossipy stuff though, Drake’s flow really benefits from the injection of emotion, whilst the production combines bassy percussion with a shrill melody for a simple and strong backdrop, and this is one of the best releases he’s put out in the last 2 years as far as I’m concerned.
There’s little doubt Kendrick’s been sitting on a potential chart favourite with this track, and he’s now cutting it loose with the video release.
With such a track, it would have been easy to deliver a visual that has them fawning over women, and vice versa. Thankfully, this isn’t that. The clip opens in that manner to some extent, with Kendrick eyeing and talking to a lady of interest, before things quickly turn sour as the club is attacked by a gang, with the dark, relatively grimy environment adding a believable realism to that encounter. Drake’s verse would have been easy to isolate into a visual serenade due to the lyricism, but again a surprise is sprung and his verse ends up being the anchor of the video: it’s revealed he’s calling someone who was apparently caught up in that skirmish (whilst another is in his bed, no less), who is then revealed to be the target of Kendrick’s own affections. The heartwarming and tragic finale of Kendrick’s lifeless body sprawled protectively over their shared love interest perfectly sums up the level of depth they’ve added to the audio with this visual, and it isn’t the kind of video you can look away from for a minute and still know what’s going on (which you can do with 90% of music videos, thanks to their pointlessness); that might make it less of a contender for mainstream airplay, but it’s still an excellent video that enhances the audio greatly.
I’m not yet sold on it (with the exception of the production), but Drake’s banking on it as the lead from his Nothing Was The Same album.
This video sums up Drake. I’ve enjoyed several of his tracks and videos, and have offered plenty of credit where due, but when he’s trying to play the role of a rough, remotely badass guy, I completely check out; from the facial expressions to the body language, those moments come across as nothing but awkward. Yet, the scenes where he’s either enjoying his lifestyle, having a bit of fun, clowning around or just being more natural are far less cringeworthy viewing: this video has both elements, and it’s clear which ones are more watchable.
Nice to see his team get some shine in this video, with plenty of scenes fooling around with them, but when he’s prancing around making gun fingers and trying to look intimidating, it’s painful at best. Aside from that unpleasantness, the video’s a good watch, particularly the shop worker scenes, whilst the lack of stark colours and contrasts works with the dark production to enhance the lavish second half of the clip. That synergy with the beat makes the song much more tolerable, and credit for recognising the right sections to visualise. Strip away his cringeworthy scenes and this video would have elevated the song greatly.
If there was ever proof that my heavy criticism of Drake’s recent single wasn’t just because it was Drake, this is it. Most hip-hop heads have bundled Wiz into the same category as Drake, in terms of his perceived ‘femininity’, and hence there’s no scope to absolve Wiz of the same shortcomings. However, skip to his verse at the end and his talent rather than his image shines through.
Drake’s raps are poorly-paced and monotonous fare, whereas Wiz explodes out of the blocks with a razor-sharp flow that does the strong production justice, before adjusting down to something more manageable-that in itself is more than Drake manages on the entire track. On top of that, there’s significantly more conviction and variance in Wiz’s voice, making it a much more digestable, likeable listen. It’s not revolutionary by any means, but Wiz’s short contribution properly utilises the beat and doesn’t deviate too far from what he’s good at; it just goes to show that it doesn’t take a verse from a lyrical wordsmith or ‘hip-hop golden boy’ to show the widespread criticism of the original was genuinely founded on the poor music rather than the fact it was Drake.
This is the first single off of my upcoming album. I feel sometimes that people don’t have enough information about my beginnings and therefore they make up a life story for me that isn’t consistent with actual events.
I’m not this guy’s biggest fan, but when he gets it right, I’ve got no problems saying so. Unfortunately for us all, this sounds like pop rap gone very, very wrong. What baffles me is that he’s surely played this song back to himself, and thought ‘yeah, this is fine for public consumption’, when the only way to describe it is nursery rhyme rap. His flows are structured like a kids TV theme tune, and whilst in isolation the soft synths and solid percussion are a good backdrop, when combined with his nasal half-rap half-singing delivery, the track comes off as a rejected Future song. It doesn’t help that it doesn’t play out as a single, more as a track that never really goes anywhere, and just sort of floats around in a monotonous back and forth. One of the worst songs I’ve heard him release, and I hope he’s got something better lined up to follow. Stream below, download here.
Why would Vevo upload this to YouTube, and restrict the countries that can view it? If it’s to get people to use Vevo’s site, it’s worked only to reveal the mess that is their own player-you can’t pause or mute adverts, and you have to work for an embed code that’s a mile long. Amateur.
After the highly successful Goldie, this follow-up solo release from a few weeks back has really set Rocky up for some continued mainstream success. Undoubtedly, it’ll be a club favourite this winter thanks to both the hook and the features, whilst the production’s slightly dark nature gives it playability outside of those realms.
The video really amps up the energy of the track, capitalising on its inherent intensity with a constantly-moving camera and plenty of activity from the rappers, whilst a dimmed colour palette tempers that activity somewhat. Rocky’s at his magnetic best here, dressed crisply as ever and oozing the charisma he’s becoming famed for, whilst Chainz brings his odd brand of chaos to the hook, Drake comes through in a lively and oddly dressed manner, and Kendrick closes by showing off a more positive and fashion-conscious side of him we rarely see on video. Over time, Drake’s verse has really grown on me and he probably takes it on flow alone, whilst I’m much preferring this remastered production too: this is a good mainstream audiovisual that will greatly enhance Rocky’s reputation.
The generosity continues with another release, though this one was more expected given it’s included with the iTunes pre-order. Nonetheless, it’s a pleasure to have it a week prior to Trilogy‘s release.
Viewed by many as the outstanding track from Thursday (I disagree, for the record), The Zone was arguably The Weeknd’s mainstream breakout, helped by the appearance of his good friend Drake. The remastered audio cuts out the dead time before the latter’s verse, whilst also improving the intensity of the background vocals-both are touches that definitely improve the track and give it much more depth.
The video fits the moody nature of the audio rather well. Outside of the early clips of the love interest, the video is mostly bathed in darkness and full of shadows, frowns and a general reflectiveness that culminates in the early bright, positive scenes turning dark and negatively charged in the second half. To borrow one of his other song titles, it’s a party and after-party sort of duality that builds very organically throughout the video, and cleverly the video’s key emotional changes take place after the camera focuses on the lead character’s eyes: there’s nothing beyond the surface in this relationship (I’ll be making love to her through you), and when he keeps looking for it, things fall apart. Worth a watch if you liked the audio, and look out for Trilogy next week.
Featuring four of hip-hop’s biggest names, the feedback from various avenues has been mixed thus far, but I’m definitely enjoying this one from Rocky’s upcoming LongLiveA$AP album.
The beat is subdued in their presence but there’s enough to work with, with 40 pulling in a high tempo percussion to create energy, whilst soft electronic melodies roll around for some atmosphere. Throughout the verses, each rapper is able to experiment with more than one flow, for which you’ve got to credit 40′s beat work. A$AP’s on the opener and keeps things as confident and arrogant as ever, though it’s a more solid than spectacular performance, whilst 2 Chainz and Drake share hook duty, with Chainz’s rough energy outdoing Drake’s nasal delivery. The latter also delivers a verse that starts poorly but hugely improves, with Drake’s flows increasing in speed and accuracy for a short period that’s arguably the track’s highlight. Kendrick closes with a good verse with watertight flow execution, particularly the delivery towards the verse end which catches the beat perfectly. All of the ingredients to be a huge mainstream favourite and a popular lead single for Rocky.
Given that I’m positive he isn’t Jewish, this surely this has to go down as one of the most ridiculous mixtape names of all-time? Worryingly though, it isn’t the craziest thing the MMG clan have done in the last 24 hours-more on that later.
Ross is generally good for a couple of gems on his mixtape work, and coming only a short while after releasing his God Forgives, I Don’t album, you’ve got to commend the generosity. 18 tracks deep, and surprisingly there are fewer features than he normally goes for with any of his projects, limiting it mostly to a couple of MMG members plus Pharrell, 2 Chainz and Drake. Free grab below.
Originally, this post was a review of Compton, a Just Blaze-produced track from the album featuring Dr. Dre that leaked out last night. However, it seems to have been pulled across most outlets and such, so I can only assume it was either unfinished or unapproved and in either case, we’ll be steering clear. It wasn’t that great anyway to be truthful, considering the names involved.
Never fear though, we’re not left empty-handed. What has emerged is seemingly a close-to-final tracklist for the album itself, due in just under three weeks on 22nd October. Features include Drake, the aformentioned Dr. Dre feature, Jay Rock, MC Eiht, Mary J. Blige and the much-publicised link up with Lady GaGa. Interestingly, the two official singles we’ve seen so far are only in as deluxe edition tracks; not a bad thing at all, as it means more brand new material.
I picked this up a week ago, and frankly dismissed it as another Drake demo that warranted minimal attention. My mistake, as the version I had didn’t credit Colin Munroe-if it had, I’d have known to expect much more. Worth noting that a Colin and Drake collaboration from 2010 has the same name, but is not the same song.
Whilst I don’t doubt this will still end up as a demo for someone else, it’s up there with one of his better reference tracks. Drake opens with a wistful verse that harks right back to his So Far Gone days, before Munroe jumps in on an airy, drifty hook that’ll stick around your head for quite some time. Dawn Richard comes through with a whispery and tender verse of her own, before Drake closes off with a rapped verse. Four very distinct vocal deliveries from three artists, and they’re all set to a wintery production filled full of melancholy yet with a speed of percussion that belies the mood of the track. A likeable all-rounder with an inescapably addictive hook.
So, the background: there’s a posthumous Aaliyah album being released, 10 years after the last, and rumour is that Drake and 40 are executive producing it. Not a huge surprise given how big an Aaliyah fan Drake is, and hearing her vocals on 40′s beats will be a fantastic experience.
This is purported to be the first single from that project, and the signs are good. It’s a typically-atmospheric 40 production, packed with lavish synths, muted percussion and a softness that gives the accompanying vocals an enhanced delicateness. Couple that with already-buttery vocals from Aaliyah and it’s an all-round package of the highest order; when 40′s productions are released for someone other than Drake, the product can be absolutely exceptional. The only downside is the Drake verse, being horribly out of place, and whilst a couple of his lines are strong (the ‘enemy and cousins’ line in particular), approaching this with a rap style breaks the flow of the song, when instead a sung contribution may have worked nicely. A fantastic track otherwise.
I don’t normally do ‘mashups’ but this one’s been getting a lot of traction over the last few days and hence it’s worth giving a chance at least. Or, so I thought. Maybe it’s my all-consuming dislike of Drake’s Take Care single (mainly because it desecrates the Gil-Scott Heron version), but there’s something about the track that seems to permanently keep me at arm’s length.
It could be that it feels like one long intro, with no clear anchor point, though with that said there are some high points, most notably toward the second half of the track where the Drake/Rihanna samples are dialled back in favour of The Weeknd and JoJo’s vocals and production. There are certainly other points where the remix works, however as with all mashups come the moments where too much is happening, confusing the listening experience. Good, but the Take Care sample ruins it for both overcomplicating the production and generally existing in life. For the download, head to the stream’s official page where one is hosted in the description.