Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Khalid ft. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – Right Back

Supremely unobjectionable… but one of us objects!


Joshua Minsoo Kim: More than any other Khalid single, “Right Back” makes its innocuousness a virtue. There’s a lightness with which it proceeds–check out the slick hand-off from A Boogie to Khalid–and its gentle, warm tone is so enticing that it rubs off on you even when it’s played as agreeable background music. It’s not quite the song of the summer; it’s more like the song of the technically-still-summer-but-feels-like-fall. It’s for those first days of uni when the weight of all the work you need to do hasn’t seeped into your brain yet, for when you’re trying to extend the bliss of summer for as long as possible. “I just let the time roll past,” sings Khalid, unhurried and unworried. He convinces you to take things slow, even if for four minutes.

Ian Mathers: Goes down so smooth I’m not even sure, after repeated listens, how much I actually like it. There’s something to be said for being supremely unobjectionable, though.

Alfred Soto: He knows what to do with melancholy synth presets; they complement his affected hurt. R&B has often bloomed when performers like Khalid inflect their performances with a sprinkle of irony.

Michael Hong: “Right Back” lurches backwards and forwards, never in one place like it’s suspended across time, but then the snap kicks everything back into focus every time. However, Khalid’s soulful voice fits right at home on that instrumental and the whole thing feels timeless. While no moment is quite as wholehearted as that first “can we just talk” from his collaboration with Disclosure, “Right Back” finds itself in a suitable middle ground between the upbeat “Talk” and the drowsy wallpaper of the rest of Free Spirit. Expectedly though, the remix is completely inessential, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie lending a verse that never quite manages to meet Khalid’s soulfulness.

Katherine St Asaph: The pleasantest artist in pop-R&B releases another single that skims just above the line of sleaze or playerishness. It’s like how teenpop artists’ second albums only allow themselves one or two sorta-suggestive lines per song — which makes A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie the guest artist brought in to provide those lines, which unfortunately in this case involve the Illuminati, Now & Laters, and being “on your body like a tissue” (ew).

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I loved Khalid’s debut album– partially because I was a teenager came out, and partially because of the earnest joy for music-making he broadcast with every note. But his work since 2017 has been a test case in rapid onset Sam Smith syndrome — an emotive voice carrying uninspired writing and production just past mediocrity. “Right Back” breaks from that trend. It’s not worlds away from the stuff that Khalid has been doing recently, but the songwriting is crisper, the production more charismatic. Even A Boogie, who I suspect I am too Californian to really get, gets his shots in — his more aggressive style is a counterpoint to Khalid’s calm, and who doesn’t love a verse trade-off as smooth as the one they pull off here?

Jibril Yassin: Including A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie offsets some of Khalid’s flaws as a performer and songwriter, injecting just enough energy to save this from wilting like the OG version of “Right Back” did but they didn’t remove the obnoxious vocal callbacks to “Still Not A Player” so clearly we couldn’t have it all!

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One Response to “Khalid ft. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – Right Back”

  1. I’ve no idea what song came to mind before when I thought about the word “low-key,” but henceforth, it’ll be “Right Back.” I mean, Khalid has spent most of his career exploring “the vibe” of Los Angeles, but whereas past songs have felt a bit pedantic (“Young Dumb & Broke”) or like a melodic snoozefest (oh yes, the astounding four notes in the verses of “Location”), “Right Back” feels alive, inching away from restraint but not overflowing with bombast. The snaps toggle on and off just enough between the verses and choruses to give structure and leave space for the song to breathe and flow while the suspensions in the synths give a hushed tension and release that kinda-sorta-not-really make up for the A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie feature (I think life would’ve been just as chill without the “Illuminati/third eye” line….)

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