Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

Kah-Lo – Exit Sign

Not stronger…


Will Adams: Few artists are as entrenched in nightlife as Kah-Lo. Her songs act as distinct chapters, from the quest for a rockin’ time to its eventual monotony to the act of dancing itself. What makes “Exit Sign” so compelling is that it combines all of these while introducing a new element: the world outside the club. She’s dancing, sure, sipping on Jack Daniels Honey, yes, but the driving organ, bass, and horn blasts are all pointing to the exit sign, and she’s pointing to you. Kah-Lo expertly captures that frenzied feeling of slipping in and out of the moment and locking eyes with the one you want to leave with. It falls just short of true greatness — mostly due to the muddy mixing — but nevertheless cements Kah-Lo’s status as the pre-eminent scholar of the dancefloor.

Katherine St Asaph: “Exit Sign” is built around one particular “Show Me Love” synth, used on the verse and intermittently throughout, but somehow it and the heavy sampled claps that buttress them don’t feel mid-’90s but early-’10s, as if we all Mandela Effected “Exit Sign” out of our memories of playing alongside “Only Girl (in the World)” and “Day n Nite” and maybe something by Keri Hilson, whom Kah-Lo channels (yes, that’s a distinct thing you can do). The particular hard-driving party lyric also feels very much of that time. Then the house chorus thwacks it partway to 2015, but not enough to wreck the nostalgia trip.

Tim de Reuse: What differentiates this from the dozens of other tunes with the exact same structure, lyrical content, tempo, and brass hook? A tasteful use of space-creating reverb; a voice that dares to be expressive on occasion; little percussive flourishes here and there that suggest some conscious attention to detail. But why put that effort into such a restrictive form if you’re just gonna end up sharing space in my memory with twenty other producers who chanced upon some trumpet samples and decided to chase a trend?

Kylo Nocom: An old TikTok trend demonstrates Kah-Lo’s talent at writing charming dance hooks, and “Exit Sign” substitutes Riton’s twitchiness for a groovier “Show Me Love”-plus-horns beat. Every distinct vocal section suggests the capabilities of Azealia Banks, a performance less overt in presence yet still just as impressive.

Oliver Maier: Kah-Lo makes a stronger case for herself as a rapper than as a house diva. The blaring verses and pre-choruses range from dull to mildly grating, but her slick, subdued performance on the hook hints at the hip-house song I wish this was. Tricky to sound like much of anything over an instrumental this anonymous, though.

Kayla Beardslee: “Exit Sign” sounds like spinning in circles underneath a strobe light: dazzling, dizzying, and strange (yet exhilarating) in the light of day.

Michael Hong: Punchy stabs over a electrifying instrumental with a sly invitation from a mysterious stranger: “Come find me dancing by the exit sign.” All that’s left to do is accept.

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One Response to “Kah-Lo – Exit Sign”

  1. subhead so good

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