And with him – well, you wouldn’t want to think about that, would you?…
Katherine St Asaph: I regret everything. Words, incidentally, that Soulja Boy should say years from now as he’s forced to listen to this puerile, plodding, completely swag-free mess.
Al Shipley: I always thought Soulja Boy had some potential as a producer, and that the “Gucci Bandana”-style thudding piano riffs were one of his best sounds. In a way this stark whisp of a song is a bold move, just not in the right direction, since it’s not like the problem with his tracks before was that they had too much going on.
Chuck Eddy: Okay, dude’s avant-garde, I admit it. But is he pretty? And even if he is, isn’t it weird to brag about it? Also, since when did “swag” become a verb? And how come nobody warned me in advance?
Jordan Sargent: Soulja Boy has made a career out of turning ideas that seem rather terrible on paper into hits. “Crank Dat”, “Yahhh!”, “Donk” and “Turn My Swag On” have no business being as good as they are, but Soulja has a way with left field pop-rap, and it’s made him one of rap radio’s most consistently unpredictable presences (Jim Jonsin collaborations aside). “Pretty Boy Swag” isn’t exactly one of those songs. Though it’s rather shockingly a hit, it’s unsurprisingly a pretty tedious listen. Soulja has moved away from the energetic frenzy of “Yahhh!” and “Donk” and towards spacious, spacey beats and sing-songy mumbling (blame massive weed consumption, though maybe his recent powder intake will swing him back in the other direction), and “Pretty Boy Swag” illustrates how songs like that can become boring really quickly for those of us not in the studio passing blunts. The unfortunate thing is that rappers from Gucci Mane to, uh, Ace Hood have proved that the beat’s open spaces and broken-down bleeps are a perfectly blank enough canvas for a capable MC to really go to work on.
Martin Skidmore: This is maddening. The bulk of it is one word at a time, placed on the slow bleeps and beats as if cut up and pasted on. I quite like the portentous piano, and there are moments around the middle when something resembling flow is created, but mostly it irritates the hell out of me.
Michaelangelo Matos: Like a lot of Internet memes from a few years ago that should really have gone away by now but haven’t, this one continues to operate like he means something. And the thing is, he’s right: all those jerkin’ tracks I liked last year pick up from his example. But I haven’t heard many jerkin’ tracks this year that I liked, and I feel much the same about this slow-mo drum-machine exercise.
Frank Kogan: Electro bleeps and a piano note stand steady on their legs, as impassive and unimpressed as statues. Our Boy Swaggy is too lightweight and goofy to project any authority over this assemblage, much less any swag, but he kinda doesn’t get in the way too badly, the stage set remaining inscrutable, like Stonehenge, thoroughly upstaging him.
Alex Macpherson: This right here is my jam anyway, and it’s malleable enough to be even better when considered as raw material for either a) “Pretty Girl Bag” or b) Cher Lloyd‘s next X Factor performance. (The Ciara version.)
Alfred Soto: Lethargy as effrontery.