Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

T-Pain ft. B.o.B – Up Down (Do This All Day)

Is it too early for T-Pain to count as nostalgia?


Patrick St. Michel: T-Pain recently wrote a couple tweets about how “things are always ahead of their time, but we just forget.” Intentional or not, him saying that seemed appropriate, as he was way ahead of the curve on the Auto-Tune thing but now seems doomed to be the “I’m On A Boat” guy from here on out. “Up Down” finds T-Pain not trying to be ahead of any times, settling for a theme he’s pulled off way better (and funnier!) in the past.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Up Down” at first seems like a running list of modern hip-hop radio tropes — “UOENO” interpolation, DJ Mustard, B.o.B trying his darnedest to remind you that sellouts can still rap — but Pain still has a skill at soaking these qualities in his melodies and finicky vocal output. It’s a fine song before the chorus, but it doesn’t leave the head after the echoes of “know it!” hit.

Brad Shoup: Nods to “UOENO” and his entire oeuvre, startling chord landings: I’m so glad he’s back, even at diminished power. The main attraction for me is his harmonies, spaced at a molecule’s breadth, re-coloring nearly every line as something sadder or more contemplative. Really, Mustard doesn’t have to provide much backing, and so it is. There’s the first-scene horror movie figure, occasionally amplified on New Age bells. Like most T-Pain singles, the impression is of living in this man’s headspace. He could be tottering in an empty club.

Crystal Leww: I love T-Pain’s obsession with things that go up, pause, then go down. Fuck a Miley Cyrus; it ain’t twerking until you have that kind of control. Turns out his Auto-Tuned excitement (check out the part where he can’t contain himself anymore and screams that “she make it draaaaaaawp then jiggle”) works even over the detachment of DJ Mustard’s slap. Long live T-Pain.

Alfred Soto: Where’d the hell they get those synth sparkles — a Freddie Jackson record? Good show, especially the tension between T-Pain’s roboticized warble and the call and response backing vocals. B.o.B’s in there too, I think.

Josh Langhoff: The musical evolution of DJ Mustard’s “R.I.P.” dead ends here. There’s some fun in the back-and-forth vocals, but I trust the artist when he says, “My label, friends, management, and everybody will tell you I got way better shit I could be putting out right now.”

Anthony Easton: One should plan a designated driver, or have the number of a cab programmed into your cell, before going out to a party. Also, bottle service is a waste of money. 

Mallory O’Donnell: The vocal synthesis is too modern, the spoken sexuality is far too medieval, is it any wonder we feel constrained and disgusted by robots spitting gang slang and jerking pistons off while we hope for representations of women that don’t repel? Look, you can be sexy, that’s fine. This? This is just sexist.

Andy Hutchins: I’d like to think I have heard more than enough T-Pain songs about strippers in my life to be conned into really liking another one, especially one in which he brags about prompting one to be sapphic with a stack, but DJ Mustard’s sonic lowlands sound like areas of the Dirty South and West Coast at the same time, which affords more room for those who roam it to stretch. There’s another good example here: B.o.B, who sounds like the spitting echo of YG on the hook of Mustard’s “Headband,” is back in educated Atlanta strip club patron mode, and does one of the few genuinely interesting things I’ve heard him do with his flow since this horrifying video, throwing half-bar internal rhymes on a strip club anthem for very little reason other than boredom. Both of these guys need Mustard far more than he needs them, and this is just a slightly above-average radio hit, not a career-changer; to catch up to rap’s vanguard, they would need time machines. But there are worse fates than making decent, semi-popular music.

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