Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Travis Scott ft. Kanye West & Lil Uzi Vert – Watch

New Travis Scott? What a good opportunity to talk about Kanye!


Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The verses here are a wash — Uzi continues to make his case for being the most interesting stylist of the 2016-2017 SoundCloud set with a dazzling show of switched-up tempos, but Travis Scott is a nonentity on his own song and Kanye leans too hard on his crypto-MAGA trolling to provide anything more than a few mediocre punchlines. What elevates “Watch” is instead Pi’erre Bourne’s production job, which sounds like three of his old beats layered over each other. It’s disorienting the way the best Neptunes beats were, with synth lines careening all over the track like unleashed elementals.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The production here is bonkers: carnivalesque triplet melodies, imperialistic synth pads, and bird song-type squeaks emerge from the ether, congealing into a gelatinous goop that dresses up the trap beat like a demented sap-oozing Christmas tree. But while “Watch” may sound like Pi’erre’s own take on WondaGurl/FrancisGotHeat’s “Feelings Mutual,” none of the rappers here do anything noteworthy. They don’t ruin the song like K$upreme did — his “Expensive Shit” features the same beat — but it’s hard not to feel a bit underwhelmed by the entire affair. Part of that stems from how Kanye steals the show, something that attests less to his talent and more to his proclivity for saying loud, asinine lines that knowingly draw attention to himself.

Julian Axelrod: The first minute is one of my favorite songs of the year: Pi’erre Bourne’s deliriously chirping beat sounds like the soundtrack to Willy Wonka’s Cough Syrup Factory, and Uzi bounces off its warped walls like an overgrown kid at an amusement park. Then things go off the rails. Kanye gets off a string of decent one-liners, but they’re memorable in the way you recall snippets of an awkward conversation. At least he makes an impression; Travis tries to hit the stylistic midpoint between Uzi and Kanye, but ends up sounding like a faded copy of both. Pi’erre is one of our finest young producers, and I’m glad he’s leveling up without diluting his offbeat aesthetic. But getting bigger guests on your beats doesn’t mean they’re gonna sound good.

Iain Mew: The production is on some confetti-throwing-robots-take-over-the-abandoned-amusement-park trip and is endlessly enjoyable. There’s nothing in the lyrical content as compelling, but the moment they align, as Kanye references the Sunken Place and is suddenly deeply alone amidst the revelry, is a highlight.

Nortey Dowuona: Drifting, hollow synths buzz around flat, photocopy drums as Uzi hops around rapping white noise (that is at least decent), Travis Scott says something that no-one cares about, Kanye continues to, well, be lazy or unimaginative, which will always be a greater sin than any terrible thing anyone will do or say.

Micha Cavaseno: There’s a lot of complaints you can make about Kanye in the last months, a lot of which are frustrating noise that have nothing to do with his musical career and more to do with him being a human being who was taught when he interrupted a National Disaster Telethon how to simultaneously become one of the most loved and most beloved attention seekers of multimedia. However, much much less considered is how badly the last year of musical output has been from Kanye, and just how much his low self-esteem is clogging his creativity. (Make no mistake; for all his narcissism, vehemence, and coveting of negative attention, this has clearly been the most embarrassingly needy Kanye has been in a minute.) Travis Scott’s “Watch” is fine, albeit a retread of old ideas both sonically and thematically. Uzi, rapping like he’s plugged into a neon laser generator to counterpoint Travis’s lava lamp works fine. However, Kanye is downright sedentary, lumberingly spilling personal details and harping about himself to make his protege’s record the Kanye Show where it really didn’t need to be and doesn’t benefit in any way. People are entitled to feel however they want about Kanye West the Celebrity and the Human; but as far as Kanye West the Rapper is concerned, he’s clearly more trouble than he’s worth these days.

Alfred Soto: Two minute after a couple of inconsequential Travis Scott and Uzi verses, the #MAGA enthusiast breaks meter, raises his voice louder than necessary, and splutters, “I could tell Larry David was the mind behind Seinfeld” as if this made sense (it does, I guess). Yet Kanye’s bit is the most memorable in “Watch,” compellingly addled and self-absorbed. Like the Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore decision, though, my judgment isn’t binding on future rulings.

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