Friday, March 23rd, 2018

DJ Khaled ft. Jay-Z, Future & Beyoncé – Top Off

Yay!! A 4!!

Jonathan Bradley: Khaled restrains himself, keeping his adlibs to a brief intro and outro, but “Top Off” is nevertheless freighted with his characteristic extravagance. This song feels weighed down — by the pomp of the beat, the accumulated star power, the assembled line-up of luxury labels. Rick Ross’s old “Maybach Music” series seemed more organic. Some good moments escape from the oppression: Future sounds terrified by his automobile’s renovation and Beyoncé preens as if custom jobs were so rarefied as to be matters of state. (Her effortless dominance of the track is both impressive and dispiriting for its insubstantiality.) Jay’s in dad mode here: he gets some good lines in, but everything that registers does for reasons outside his rhymes. It’s nice to hear him sing Prince with his kid, and, yup, I saw that check on Twitter too. But is that a Drake flow he’s tracing? The cool thing about Khaled tracks, once upon a time, was that they stuck a whole bunch of rappers on an expensive beat and let them have space to roam. “Top Off” retains the expense but no trace of creativity, of inspiration, of verve.

Micha Cavaseno: Do you want to know how to somehow redeem DJ Khaled’s nauseating forms of star-studded blockbuster ‘anthems’ that every year sound further and further more generic and useless, to the point we never remember them a year beyond their release? Apparently it’s to replace the anemic R&B singer coming in for an ‘adequate’ rap verse section that’d belonged to Chris Brown and give it to Beyonce and claim something majestic and wonderful has happened with this trade.

Claire Biddles: Beyoncé sounds like she’s having a laugh here, but it’s not enough to convince me to drag my poor ears over this mess more than once.

Alfred Soto: In these dangerous times, what a relief to wrap oneself in the warm blanket of Khaled’s flatulent party chants and Jay Z’s valentines to cars he’s been able to afford since Madeline Albright thundered from podiums. Beyonce makes an appearance, scowling like Melania at the State of the Union.

Julian Axelrod: Future screeches and wails like a toddler throwing a tantrum in his Maybach. Jay-Z huffs his way through a labored verse like a dad desperately trying to impress his kids. DJ Khaled is oddly absent on his own song, like the weird uncle everyone hopes will pass out on the couch before he says something weird. And Beyonce plays the exhausted mom who has to come in and fix this mess of a song.

John Seroff: For those of you too young to remember, most of us generally thought “03 Bonnie and Clyde” was kinda lame too.

Stephen Eisermann: DJ Khaled knew what he was doing. This is a terrific beat he’s composed and he knew that only the best could help the beat live up to its potential. Bringing on Future was nice, sure, but Jay really kills it with a verse that is more energized than he’s seemed in a while. There seems to be an air of anticipation throughout Jay’s verses and the second he calls to B, you learn why; when I first heard this, the second her voice hit my ears I know what was happening. I was getting dragged – as listeners, we all were… and still are. This overwhelmingly talented woman has now shared another talent – she’s got bars. Her flow is theatrical, assertive, and all-around badass, but I hope this isn’t the last we hear of her rapping because in times like these, I could use more happy surprises.

Andy Hutchins: A bunch of rich people in their mid-30s and 40s talking about running from cops in a convertible Maybach is, uh, not interesting, and Future has literally nothing to say here: He’s yelping about four different sounds, and it’s annoying. So it’s good that the Knowles-Carters are, once again, inspired to experiment by DJ Khaled bringing them together far from their home turf. Jay responds to non-convicted murderer George Zimmerman – a human algal bloom triggered enough by a documentary to insanely suggest a half-billionaire could become alligator chow – by saying he would kill him manually, implies that he and Blue sing a lot of Prince (!), and aborts a second verse half a stanza in to let his better half croon and growl in the space of an abbreviated verse, rhyme Freaknik with “Free Meek,” and brag (?) about her party guests needing NDAs. Between that and the 8-bit alert tones (from a producer who posts Instagram pictures like this) that get buried during the hook, the non-Future/Khaled portions of “Top Off” are compellingly weird. It’s a good look for a royal family.

Nortey Dowuona: Bland 808s, distant, glassy synths and flat drums leave Jay-Z stumbling around without getting his footing while Beyonce uses Auto-Tune and hits a nice groove. Then Future comes back in after awkwardly fumbling the hook and kills what little interest this song has.

Katherine St Asaph: Stranding Future on a couple unaccompanied bars, right after Beyoncé pulverized those same bars (as she does), is so rude. But everyone, Jay especially and Future included, is taking this far more seriously than you’d expect on a DJ Khaled track, which is good.

Jibril Yassin: Feeling very conflicted because these DJ Khaled showcases tend to serve as an excuse to listen to a full-on rapping Beyonce and a revitalized Jay but if you listen closely you can actually hear the gears shift and buckle under the weight of its own star power. I feel for whoever’s job it was to stitch all of this together.

Thomas Inskeep: I like Jay’s riposte to fuckboy George Zimmerman. I like hearing Bey talk shit and remind everyone that she’s the queen. But besides those two elements, this is precisely the diminishing-returns-result you’d expect from a single with these credits in 2018. I don’t care that y’all took the “top off” your high-end luxury cars, frankly, and this is Future in his worst light, as the Auto-tuned hook singer. Meanwhile, DJ Khaled yells the things you know DJ Khaled is gonna yell, because that’s what DJ Khaled does.

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3 Responses to “DJ Khaled ft. Jay-Z, Future & Beyoncé – Top Off”



  3. This string of recent Beyoncé collaborations is a bit concerning huh. They’re all… bad