Monday, June 25th, 2018

Kyle ft. Kehlani – Playinwitme

Girl trouble, we’ve got double…


Joshua Minsoo Kim: What are we to take away from Kyle’s music? His rapping and singing are both mediocre, strategically forgivable given that his buddy-buddy personality is made more perceptibly authentic as a result. The truth of the matter: there’s a paucity of depth to many of his songs, and the cutesy shtick that he often employs only illuminates how his positivity is a mask for his man-child behaviors and lack of creativity. “Playinwitme” isn’t one of his worst offenses — the shallow social media babble of his previous Kehlani collab and the reductive inclusion of Sophia Black’s Japanese on “Ikuyo” are more eye-rolling — but it’s also more harmless than actively enjoyable. Kehlani is able to make the song feel less one-dimensional, but even she sounds restricted by the song’s simplistic conceit. I’mma need that time back.

Will Rivitz: It’s rare that a rapper as blandly corny as Kyle can make their brand of occasionally negging schmaltz palatable, but I’ll be damned if this one doesn’t do exactly that. Shoutouts to the following: producer SuperDuperBrick, not only for crafting a sprightly blend of peppy piano and hearth-warm bass but also for providing the impetus for a quote that single-handedly turned me into a Kyle fan; Kehlani, who within about twenty seconds of her entrance has already run circles around Kyle’s entire performance; and the self-confidence of the song’s focus, who looked at this woman and was like “Eh, I bet I can do better.”

Ryo Miyauchi: The piano shades “Playinwitme” with a sincerity a little too well for what Kyle brings to the table. He’s not vengeful, though his rebuttal lacks a deep investment from him for it to sound off on anything more than petty feelings. Kehlani, meanwhile, hits the personal from just the first two lines, and her subtle shift of the narrative into a queer one ends up overtaking Kyle’s original perspective.

Jonathan Bradley: “Playinwitme” is frothy and frivolous and very twee, and might not be as forgettable as it threatens to be. Describing Kyle as rap’s Owl City seems beside the point: that’s exactly what he’s here for. On this occasion, he’s brought duet partner Kehlani back, though they’re not singing to one another, but commiserating over mutual girl problems. Kehlani claims the spotlight with a sharper delivery and a narrative that calls out a straight tease while still keeping things light. (Deft nods to the Spice Girls and Johnny Cash help.) Kyle’s commitment to day-glo pop-rap is even more unwavering than Lil Yachty’s, but he risks one-dimensionality as a result. The trick is to be so replayable that it doesn’t matter.

Alfred Soto: Their chemistry surprised me, although as usual it’s to Kehlani I listen, quoting Johnny Cash and perfectly happy to remain single if necessary.

Vikram Joseph: “Playinwitme” is enlivened by a dorky Spice Girls reference and a very strange cadence on the line “I ain’t got no tiiiiiiiiime… forthat.” Otherwise, this is just cheerful hip-hop with a plinky piano hook and an oddly leaden beat: I had no idea that Hilltop Hoods’ influence had spread all the way to California.

Julian Axelrod: Kehlani has a long history of collaborations with cornyass dudes, and Kyle is no stranger to corny. But while other artists use Kehlani as a romantic foil or hollow hook-slinger for cheap cool/queer cred, Kyle includes her as an equal partner in heartbreak and lets her be herself in all her goofy, gay, give-no-fucks glory. A rising Kehlani lifts all tides, and this is the most appealing Kyle’s sounded… ever? His precocious tween schtick works much better when he’s the butt of the joke, and the bright, simple beat reflects and refines his unrelenting positivity. Finally, a summer banger equally suited for a pool party or Saturday morning cartoons.

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4 Responses to “Kyle ft. Kehlani – Playinwitme”



  3. If Kehlani even remembers that she did a song with G-Eazy I would be impressed.

  4. “Kyle as rap’s Owl City” = painful and true