Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Khalid, Ty Dolla $ign & 6lack – OTW

Is this where our love lies? Sort of…


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Claire Biddles: Where American Teen sounded like a lazy, carefree, day-drinking-filled afternoon, “OTW” is the sound of the creeping complexities of the evening. Khalid is still concerned with the potential of The Date, but there’s a clear shift — the cute, shyly teenage come-ons of “Location” (“I got a lot of cool spots that we can go”) have developed into suggestive adult R&B imagery: coastal highways, lingerie, sports cars. The result is a little darker and a little less distinct; but it’s a credit to Khalid that his inherent endearing goofiness still shines through the flexes — when he assures the girl riding beside him in his Porsche that he “kept the slip so you know it’s not rented”.
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Julian Axelrod: This is perfectly executed mood music, fit for the background but slightly underwhelming on its own merits. The glacial, gauzy synths and staccato accoutrements do most of the heavy lifting, so it almost doesn’t matter which singers showed up to the studio. That said, Khalid and Ty Dolla $ign are reliably smooth, even if they’re ubiquitous in the world of fuck jams that their presence feels like default. And once again, 6lack proves the most interesting thing about him is his name.
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Juana Giaimo: “OTW” is a R&B love track where none of the three artists stand out —  Ty Dolla $ing and 6lack adapt their rapping style to the smoother style of Khalid. It’s pleasant, but not very memorable.
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Ryo Miyauchi: The sunset-hued, drum-machine R&B production gives the illusion of color and casual excitement in each of the singers’ voices, though it’s still unclear exactly what emotion they’re trying to convey. It’s hard to place fault solely on Khalid, who has yet to let his voice do anything other than his emotionally vague wince, when Ty Dolla Sign and 6lack occupy a relatively similar mid-range.
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Ian Mathers: I’m a sucker for singers that have a bit of ache in their voice no matter what they’re singing about, and from the “nah, I can be your booty call” chorus on down this is so much less gross than a lot of its contemporaries — actually being happy in a relationship is presented as a good outcome, leaving the decision of whether to proceed up to the woman happens more than once, that kind of thing. It’s nothing major, and it shouldn’t be significant, but in 2018 just being relatively respectfully horny does make it stand out.
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Will Adams: Nineteen85’s instrumental, like passing street lamps lighting up your car in pulses, sets the tone for a song that moves between swagger and sadness. Everyone involved vacillates between the two endpoints, but 6lack’s verse is the most conflicted (“I’ma flex ’til they show some respect”). “Location” struck me as too syrupy to take seriously, but “OTW” reaches through the late-night haze to prod that loneliness.
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Joshua Minsoo Kim: As per usual, Nineteen85 provides a lush nocturnal space for singers and rappers to simply coast. Considering all three artists on the billing here are rather personality-less, this works incredibly in their favor. Overly familiar? Yes, but better for it.
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