Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Kris Wu ft. Travis Scott – Deserve

Ex-EXO (ex-o?) star tries to buy us off… wiith a song? What about a pony?


Jessica Doyle: Things that are not fair to count against “Deserve”: that the line “Baby, you a star and the other girls is extras,” and the theme of sexual discovery and fame going together, land with a thud right now; my loyalty to my designated life coach. Things to be aware of when complaining that a Chinese hip-hop star is not being terribly original: the weird Orientalist narrative powering American descriptions of Chinese luxury consumption, where if we recognize the brands it’s desperate copying, if we don’t it’s just weird, and either way it’s vaguely trashy. Things to complain about nonetheless: the lack of specificity in the lyrics, and the general lack of energy; “Baby, you deserve a song,” but apparently the absolute minimum of song. Things to be amused by, anyway: how much this sounds like “Lotto.”

Ian Mathers: “Deserve got nothin’ to do with it” b/w actually those “yeah yeah yeah”s on the chorus are doing a lot of heavy lifting, but thankfully like “yeah yeah yeah”s throughout the history of pop, they’re up for it.

Anjy Ou: I didn’t expect Kris to do well as a hip hop artist, but his flow is good enough that I don’t mind if he extends metaphors a bit longer than he needs to. Travis comes off sluggish and as a result blends in a little too well — not sure if that’s a result of Kris being a good imitator or Travis not really caring since he’s already gone platinum with a feature this year. But the track has a solid club bounce and the off-tune background singing has a nice disorienting effect that breaks up the verses and connects to the chorus. From there it’s mostly confidence & charisma carrying Kris through, like how he talks about money and it doesn’t come off as hyperbole (it’s not, by the way). The man is in his element, it’s hard to deny.

John Seroff: This sounds to me like a blurry, blunted xerox of Fetty Wap’s recent sorta-single “There She Go.” Friendly note to Wu: when Monty is showing more presence than you are on a track, consider a cup of coffee.

Edward Okulicz: “Deserve” feels like an attempt at a rap crossover that’s a bit too tentative in delivery to make the jump. I mean, the “yeah yeah yeah” parts are fun, but could they sound less enthusiastic? The start-stop bass, corny (in a good way) rhymes and sing-song qualities keep it uncomfortably sitting on the pop edge of the pool with only Wu’s calves wet. That being said, its a pretty good and very slick best-of-both worlds scenario, perhaps just lacking a bit of momentum.

Will Rivitz: Of those I’ve heard who have explicitly attempted to bridge K-pop and hip-hop, I think Kris Wu uniquely understands what works about the sound he’s trying to emulate. The tensile strength of his Auto-Tuned delivery is perfect, tissue-paper thin and a comfortable, colorful foil to the more aggressive yelps of Travis Scott. It’s liquid caramel, a voice that drips stickily and sweetly down the walls of the song’s spare percussive arrangement.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: As jokes about K-pop incorporating years-old music tropes started to wane during the mid-2010s, there also existed a gradual and consistent embrace of contemporary hip-hop trends from both mainstream and underground artists that led to what is now the most fertile and interesting period of Korean hip-hop. It certainly seems to be getting recognized internationally too. Earlier this year, Changmo (whose “Maestro” was one of the best Korean rap songs of 2016) became the first Korean to receive a nomination for a BET Award, and Jay Park became the first Asian-American to sign with Roc Nation. Interestingly, one of the most crucial points of reference for Korean rappers has been none other than Travis Scott, something that makes sense given his large internet presence and how his melodic autotune crooning is a perfect fit for Korea. Glimpses of Travis Scott’s influence have appeared in songs by Seventeen, Block B’s Zico, the Winner and iKon-associated MOBB, and Highlight’s Lee Gi-kwang. Examples exist outside the idol industry too, the majority of which are primarily indebted to Scott’s adlibs, but some songs treat Jacques Webster as if he wrote the rap dictionary. All of this makes him the most ideal feature for a song by a former K-pop star in 2017. Unfortunately, “Deserve” sounds exactly like you’d expect, with Louis Bell’s production sounding as devoid of personality as any of his work for Post Malone. What’s most disappointing, though, is how Kris Wu ends up sounding functional at best. That would be fine in the context of an adventurous K-pop song, but there’s a lot more heavy lifting needed if this is meant to register as anything other than a Travis Scott b-side.

Reader average: [3.5] (4 votes)

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One Response to “Kris Wu ft. Travis Scott – Deserve”

  1. There She Go now has a video!

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