Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Raye & Mr. Eazi – Decline

More from the Department of Unintendedly Prescient Titles…


Leah Isobel: “The Line” was one of the best singles of 2017, a manic headrush of a song that demanded your attention. “Decline” is… not that. Though the Ashanti interpolation in the chorus is catchy as hell, it’s also so calculated that it borders on insulting. Raye’s icy vocal presence and the track’s brevity keep it from collapsing in on itself, but said brevity also means that Mr Eazi’s contribution goes by so fast that he barely leaves an impression. The seesawing melody in the postchorus lets us catch a glimpse of what Raye can do when she’s not tethered to nostalgia, but it’s frustrating that it’s all we get for now.

Will Adams: “Decline” shows off its references left and right, leading with Ashanti and following up with Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé. And while the namechecks aren’t totally unearned, the one that caught my ear was at the end when Raye mentions “Shhh,” a song that also plumbs early ’00s R&B nostalgia but with a more inventive sound.

Katherine St Asaph: Interpolates “Always on Time,” namedrops “Irreplaceable” and arguably “Bug A Boo,” and comes thisclose to the cadence to “Say My Name”: a nostalgia trip, then. Why do I like this and not Bebe Rexha’s version, despite the source songs being of equal quality? Maybe it’s the production. Or maybe I’m in a better mood than I thought.

Micha Cavaseno: Just the slightest bit too busy to satisfy the post-Afrobeat style it’s supposed to duplicate, and in relying on the Ashanti hook, Raye just kind of phoned in IG-caption-level lyrics for every other part. Mr. Eazi’s feature is solid albeit cut short in favor of the main artist who feels more positioned than a proponent of this single, an unfortunate development given her interesting takes on pop prior to this.

Iain Mew: When so many opportunities for new singers involve playing second place, at best, to EDM drops, I can understand the appeal of any alternative. “Decline” boxes in RAYE just as surely though, straining against the limits of dutifully turning over someone else’s hook.

Nortey Dowuona: Raye swings over the tinkling synths, bubbly drums and bouncy bass, while Eazi runs pell-mell over the roots, holding his Maxim and iPhone and sliding around with a petulant apology.

Alfred Soto: Raye’s demotic insouciance reminds me of good Katy B — she might be irritated that her lover doesn’t let her finish, she might not, she’s out for a good time. The chime hook tells me I don’t share her idea of a good time.

Austin Brown: “Decline” grooves on and on, but the curious trap-dancehall arrangement feels underserved by Raye’s performance, which lacks distinction either in delivery or lyrics. It’s also an unfortunately slight showcase for a savvy, syncretic artist like Mr. Eazi, although if Universal is willing to throw promo cash at minor collabs like this, I guess that should make me heartened about the perceived commercial viability of the Nigerian market.

Stephen Eisermann: A tad dated, but this is a bop. The sample is fun, and Raye’s voice and attitude fit perfectly with the I’m too good for you hip-hip of the late ’90s/early 2000s. But it’s Mr. Eazi’s verse that gives the song life and relevancy, so much so that I almost wish Raye was left to sing the hook and Mr. Eazi had a full song to work with.

Isabel Cole: Comes out of the gate almost too strong with a melody that struts and winds through a narrow handful of notes — with that much promise I kept waiting for it to build to something really spectacular, which it doesn’t. But what’s here (the unexpectedly pretty vocal dropping just the right amount of consonants on its descending lines, the chirping percussion and percussive chirps floating in the background, those hums on the second verse) is worthwhile enough that it doesn’t feel right to complain.

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