Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

A$AP Rocky ft. Skepta – Praise The Lord (Da Shine)

“Surely Skepta will be better-received than Moby,” one might think, and be wrong…


Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Just as he was swallowed up by Moby on his last single, Rocky takes a backseat here to Skepta, who not only gets hook duty but also produces. Perhaps that’s an intentional move on Rocky’s part, who has always positioned himself as a too-cool curator-type rather than a pure rapper, but on “Praise The Lord” he just comes off as out of his depth. Fortunately, Skepta provides enough material for the both of them, drawing from both DMX and Total War: Rome (on the hook and the beat respectively, though perhaps the other way around would have been more interesting) to cobble together a scrappy piece of battle rap.

Julian Axelrod: No one does diminishing returns like A$AP Rocky. Every release is touted (by Rocky himself) as a visionary, game-changing instant classic, and I always find myself believing the hype. But by the third replay, it’s lost its luster. “Praise The Lord” carried a similar sheen upon its release: Beyond the acid trip backstory, it’s one of the most immediately striking tracks on an album more concerned with Jonathan Richman homages than bangers. But once the initial thrill of those medieval flutes wears off, you realize how little Rocky and Skepta bring to the table. Ideally, a beat this simplistic would allow for more complex bars. But the DMX interpolation feels simplistic and hollow, another elementary gesture from an artist who’s convinced he’s operating at a higher level.

Will Rivitz: The artists make it clear that X’s “Who We Be” is an inspiration for this song’s structure, so a word about what makes the former excellent but the latter middling: DMX’s stop-start flow is vicious, brutal, and the underlying beat’s power chords emphasize just how jagged the song is. “Praise The Lord,” while cribbing the flow’s idea, lifts nothing else, leading to a chorus and two verses as anemic as the half-baked panpipes.

Tim de Reuse: Apart from the crimes inflicted upon the word “conquer” to twist it into a rhyme with “velour,” the first minute is passable if unexciting, buoyed by a sprightly flute melody; then the flow sinks into a jerky duple groove and doesn’t budge an inch for the remainder of the track. This might’ve been cute for half of a verse, but Rocky and Skepta commit to the bit 100 percent and, crucially, fail to do anything fun with it.

Alfred Soto: The choice of rhyme stresses — coming down hard on the last monosyllable in each verse — dovetails with the song’s insistence. It also means the song has nowhere to go after the first third.

Ryo Miyauchi: The flutes are a smooth relief from the usual street-noir filter that Rocky likes to add to his songs for style points. It reminds me of how “Goldie” from 2012 gave his style a bounce not found in his other syrupy tracks. But the rapper hasn’t grown one bit since. The rhymes may hit the right melodic pockets, but his best asset remains no more than the designer brands he owns.

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