Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Runtown – Mad Over You

And we’re mad over this one, too! But will our third song today also score a [7.17]…?


[Video][Website]
[7.17]

Anjy Ou: Nigeria’s favourite Ghanaian Mr. Eazi almost lost his favoured status last month by suggesting that Nigeria’s current sound owes a lot to Ghanaian music. Nigerian pride couldn’t take it, but he’s absolutely correct — Ghana has been influencing Nigerian music (and vice versa) since before Wizkid brought azonto down the coast. The popularity of “Mad Over You” proves his point — the smooth hip-life groove has been over the airwaves and on every wedding DJ deck (if you didn’t know, weddings are the new club in this recession). While an Igbo boy saying he hopes a girl’s love is “sweet pass shitor” is hilarious to me, you can’t deny the infectious beat and the earnest crooning. And that hook with the mumbled lyrics is surprisingly the hottest part of the song. While #JollofWars and an up-and-down political relationship currently keep Ghana and Nigeria at odds, the music seems to argue that we’re better together than apart.
[7]

Alfred Soto: I love its sheen: the synth pads, rhythm guitar, whistle. The steady groove conveys an attachment less mad than the title suggests.
[7]

Iain Mew: The gorgeously liquid array of sounds conjures an underwater shuffle where the occasional glistening creature floats past. Yet they still make the energetic dance moments of the lyrics work too, which is some achievement.
[8]

Will Adams: Layers upon layers of watercolor tones set to a sweet message. The mix could have used a second look, but this is worth revisiting on its instrumental breaks alone.
[6]

Joshua Copperman: The lush production here reminds me a lot of Kiss Daniel’s “Mama” from last summer; both songs hail from Nigeria (even though “Mad Over You” is about a girl from/apparently influenced by music from Ghana) respectively, have a decent amount of Western influence, but with production touches, whether through traditional percussion or mountains of multi-tracks, that give each their own sound. Here, the touches include synth beeps and keyboard effects, which beautifully add to the atmosphere of the song, and ear-catching whenever the song threatens to become repetitive. It’s not as fun as “Mama,” as Douglas Jack Agu is not as distinctive a vocalist, but it’s still dense enough to get lost in for three minutes at a time.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Mesmerizing mirages of chimes glimmer translucently beneath the vocals here. “Mad Over You” sounds blissful to the point of impossible, a reflection of the fleeting moments of overflow in so small our hearts.
[8]

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like

Valentine’s Day has got us head over heels for music…


[Video][Website]
[7.17]

David Sheffieck: This is no “Versace on the Floor”, but it’s a better “24K Magic” than that song was, relentlessly upbeat and winningly so. Bruno Mars is more interesting and more fun the stranger he gets, and while “That’s What I Like” starts out conventional enough it picks up layers as it goes. The emphasis given to “I would never make a promise that I can’t keep,” the way the chorus takes things down a notch, the keytar he seems determined to bring back all by himself: this is the sound of an artist picking the pockets of his influences with no shame, and yet ending up with a song that sounds almost entirely his own. At this point Mars is inhabiting a world completely removed from that of his contemporaries, and reaping the benefits.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Mars is a weird figure in pop, in so much that he knows how to be grave and overwrought one day, buffoonish and playful the next. He can do novelty like few others, but has a vocabulary that makes most pop songwriter type figures look comparatively slight. After his Ronsonized Morris Day act somehow transitioned into an obsession with R&B, its been surprising to note that Mars is actually toning down the “wink-wink, ironic ukulele” tendencies. Yes, “That’s What I Like” is playful and preening, sounding like a union between Jodeci and (yes) The Time’s “Cool,” but you never get the feeling that he’s trying to play the clown for cheap laughs. The only downside is that his usual clownings are what ensure radio success, his schmaltz here not the kind of basic-cable-sitcom-goofing that he’s mined to great effect, and thereby feels too obvious.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: Yeah, Bruno can be ridiculous — cf. “strawberry champagne on ice,” “wake up with no jammies” (he actually sings that), etc. — but when he’s having this much fun, so much fun you can hear it on the record, and doing it against a cocky late-’80s/early-’90s Bobby Brown take on poppy R&B, I am utterly incapable of resistance. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds may only have a writing credit on one track on 24K Magic, but his version of end-of-the-’80s R&B is all over the album, baked into its DNA. The more I listen to the album, the more I hear it, and the happier I am. And while in the context of its parent album, “That’s What I Like” is a middle-of-the-album cut, standing on its own as a single, it sparkles like a fistful of glitter. 
[10]

Ryo Miyauchi: Bruno Mars smothers in “That’s What I Like” as if he never wrote “Just the Way You Are” before. This new sleazy, 24k Magic-era playboy constantly got to qualify his tender side with a reminder of his lifestyle, lavish and materialistic as his bubbly-soaked beat. He tries to play off his softer tastes — strawberry champagne and silk sheets, among others — as if it so happens what she likes, he likes too. I’d roll my eyes if it was any other dude, but this is Bruno, a man who says “jammies” with a straight face. Especially during this new cycle, the charade for him isn’t acting sensitive but tough. And it’s intriguing to see what he writes to express sensitivity while still heavy in character.
[6]

Will Adams: Bruno Mars’ embrace of all things gaudy is endearing, especially on stage, though after this single the novelty might begin to wear off. At least we get to see how it works in this charming slow-jam template. There’s a devil on my shoulder whispering that this could very well be the same protagonist from “The Lazy Song” and “Billionaire” five years later and without the ukulele, but I prefer to think of nicer things.
[6]

Claire Biddles: One of my favourite things to do is imagine what pop stars’ houses are like, and what they’d be like to go out with. I reckon most boy pop stars are exaggerating in their songs, which is fine — who wouldn’t want an elevated version of reality in their pop? — but I reckon Bruno Mars is EXACTLY as cheesy and excessive in real life as he describes in his songs. He’s DEFINITELY got a condo in Manhattan and silk sheets and lobster tails available for dinner, probably served directly to your bedside by on call cater waiters. I also don’t think he’s showing off to make himself look good, I think he genuinely does want to make a gal feel good — corniness is for sure an essential part of the Bruno Mars brand, but earnestness is MORE important — he wants to give you all this and swears that’s he’s into it too, and he IS. Like the magnums of strawberry champagne he’s offering, the excess of treats and pleasure would lose its sweetness after a while, but it’s an absolute DELIGHT for a little while. 
[8]

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

GoldLink ft. Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy – Crew

If not “Team,” how about “Crew”?


[Video][Website]
[5.25]

Adaora Ede: What an interesting snippet of the fusion-y velvetwave coming out of the DMV area! If you’re one of those people tired of mumbly apathy flow, Shy Glizzy brings the most interest to this song, sounding like he’s about to pop out an Offset-approved ad-lib at any moment. If you don’t exactly have any predisposed qualms with that sort of thing, Goldlink slithers all over that beat without a trace. Literally. At times, Glizzy’s delivery serves crunk, but Goldlink fails to throw technique in to make his own song, well, his own. Faiyaz’s vocals are silky to the point where it’s a little jarring to the production, as even for someone who is unfamiliar with him, his hook doesn’t come off as a modern creation, but more like a tricky ’90s interpolation. The chorus shouts sampled and chopped ‘n’ slowed, which is a bit too flowery for the cohesion of the song. Barring the stuffiness, “Crew” is a team effort — these dudes all come together in their collective lamentation to do the damn thing to the slow groove of their separate hearts’ contents.
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Arguably the best highlight here is Shy Glizzy cutting through the wash and drift of Goldlink’s moat haze from the edges of the Kingdom of Soundcloud Rap. Whereas Brent Faiyaz’s Miguel-lite murmur and Goldlink’s flat rattle set the mood, Young Jefe seems so overtaken with enthusiasm that he threatens to sink the ship. Its that sudden see-saw of approach that makes “Crew” stand out from the seas of similar records, a rare case of contrast.
[6]

David Sheffieck: This sounds fine enough: the beat is simple but lazily bouncy, the contrast in energy and flow between GoldLink and Shy Glizzy enjoyable, the hook by Faiyaz smooth in its harsh kissoff. But — and this may be the first time I’ve ever said this — the song’s shortness works against it. GoldLink takes until most of the way through his verse to connect in any way with the hook, long enough for me to forget that this is supposed to be a song about gold diggers, and Shy Glizzy surrounds his own with enough landmarks that he might be fucking on an unfolded road map. The result is a brief song about a tired subject that feels surprisingly incoherent, as if none of the artists quite realized they were on the same track. Sticking a hook between the verses could’ve helped; a better beat might’ve disguised the issue; verses that actually said something worthwhile would’ve made for a better song entirely. Albeit a very different one than this.
[4]

Juana Giaimo: Sometimes I wonder for how long we will have to listen to hip-hop songs about men surrounded by hot women looking for the men’s money and men being too intelligent and realizing that there is no real love there. So they take advantage of women’s desire for money to use them as disposable sexual goods because these men have a super big dick and are sex gods. I’m quite sure I’ve had enough of it. 
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: On “Crew,” Maryland’s Goldlink reworks the contemporary West Coast for the East. With an ersatz Frank Ocean hook and a flow marked by Black Hippy phrasings, this is both a respectable take on the style and an indicator of where hip-hop’s creative energies lie in 2017. The production, hazy and frayed, is more idiosyncratic.
[5]

Ryo Miyauchi: The two rappers here could use a more energetic beat to liven up their outing. The boom bap keeps GoldLink’s freewheeling flow locked too tightly. The bells floats too much in a lull to give Shy Glizzy’s high-pitched yelp the bounce it needs. The one who feels right at home is Brent Faiyaz, a man who’s trying to call out her bluff. He sings about fake love with a wear fit for a beat that sounds like another aimless weekend at the club.
[5]

Iain Mew: Framed unusually by Brent Faiyaz’s hook at either end, it feels like we’re getting a glimpse at something that’s just keeping on rolling, rather than a complete piece. That’s a mixed blessing that makes the impact of the verses all the more important, and the contrast between GoldLink’s hard nasal flow and the daydreamy chiming at least succeeds.
[6]

Will Adams: The symmetrical structure is unusual but intriguing; hearing Brent Faiyaz’s hook before and after GoldLink and Shy Glizzy helps to emphasize the nice pairing of their bristly voices and the soft, wind chime beat.
[6]

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Krewella – Team

Hey guys! Who remembers 2016?


[Video][Website]
[4.14]

Katherine St Asaph: Like you buried a 2016 time capsule, but when you went to dig it up it had rotted and the contents merged with the rest of the decade.
[3]

Claire Biddles: This sticks so closely to the template for c. 2016 dance pop that it could be a parody. Squeaky chorus noises! “Not giving up/in”! Vague tropical ~vibes~! I don’t know about you but I’m tired.
[2]

Alfred Soto: A hackishness dwells in the hearts of Krewella — from their CVS Pharmacy pain reliever moniker to their flat beats. Besides the munchkin vocals, I can’t figure out what annoys me about “Team” other than the manipulation of optimism and fraternity for such shallow ends.
[4]

Maxwell Cavaseno: It’s a heck of a lot of clichés both lyrically, and musically. But you can’t say that Krewella don’t know how to execute them to perfection. The worst you could say here is that “Team” sounds like everything you’d expect for its audience as a summary of how they think and feel and what they like. Its not too challenging, but it’s tricky to nail it to a T.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: The back-to-back cliché of “The way you were looking at me like a deer in headlights/Didn’t they tell you to not bring a knife to a gunfight?” is a deep hole to have to clamber out of, and Krewella… kinda does, actually. There’s nothing fresh about a hook that makes me wonder how I so quickly forgot “Where Are Ü Now,” but reworked into EDM uplift, its presence is not unwelcome. The warm swells of house synth are a complicating throwback texture, enticing in their subtlety, even as they hold back too much.
[6]

Will Adams: I’ve been iffy on Krewella from the get, but they do far better with bite than uplift. “Team” won’t reinvent any wheels, but its grooving chorus is more than serviceable for a rowdy house party.
[7]

Will Rivitz: There are a lot of bad things about this song — it’s inane, it’s annoying, it’s meaningless — but it’s something even worse than those three: forgettable.
[2]

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Brantley Gilbert – The Weekend

We wish, Brantley…


[Video][Website]
[3.57]

Katie Gill: With a name like “Brantley Gilbert,” you’re practically destined to make middle of the road froggy voiced country music party songs.
[4]

Anthony Easton: It’s a Gilbert song, it sounds like a Gilbert song. Not as good as “Bottoms Up,” but not as silly as some of his other work. I like his voice still. 
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: There was a time when Gilbert was the Waylon-esque rebel against the clichés of bro-country. Now he’s one of its strongest proponents, rhyming “spring break” and “wake ‘n bake” in the chorus of “The Weekend” and talking about Panama City, “jacked-up trucks and bikinis” within one couplet in the second verse. This is truly lowest fucking common denominator formula country, and also truly terrible. 
[0]

Alfred Soto: “Bottoms Up” snuck up on me and the pop chart three years ago. A guitar pattern recalling Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” portended a rueful and punchier drinking track than the rest of the truck boys could manage.
[3]

Maxwell Cavaseno: You want an anthem for when you and the boys go mudding? My dude, do I got the record for you…
[4]

Will Adams: Just a bit less turgid than Rihanna’s own ode to the weekend, not quite as embarrassing as Eden xo’s, and about as dead-eyed as Rebecca Black’s.
[3]

Jonathan Bradley: “The Weekend” has an exhausted yet insistent chorus that sounds nothing like a party and nothing like fun. I feel as if I’ve been made to go out for after-work drinks when all I really wanted was an early night.
[4]

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Goldfrapp – Anymore

We all need a coat like Claire’s.


[Video][Website]
[6.50]

Claire Biddles: All this week I’ve been recovering from not feeling so good, so I’ve been wearing my white faux fur coat to work. It’s cheap — I got it in a jumble sale for £5 — and it’s slightly too big for me so the arms reach past my knuckles and the lapels hang off my shoulder if I walk too fast, but it makes me feel sexy in a miraculous, transformative way that maybe a more expensive, well-fitting coat wouldn’t. Its strange proportions and knock-off allusions to glamour are like the production design of my daytimes — a knowing, winking stage set. At first it seems ironic, and I might pretend to myself that it is, but secretly it’s sincere, and I’m so glad it is, because that’s what makes it work. Anyway, this song is the same as the coat. 
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: I can’t tell which overall grows more exhausted by the end of “Anymore”: that thick, screwed-up bass or the flustered Alison Goldfrapp. She can barely string together words in succession, but of course, she can announce one line clearly. “I can’t wait anymore!” She blurts, and as the temperature rises, the refrain heats up more and more.
[7]

Anthony Easton: A propulsive beat leads a solid vocals, where what she is saying and how she is saying it, matches perfectly…an extra point because it kind of reminds me of Sleater Kinney. 
[9]

David Sheffieck: The vocal vamps, the synths squelch: taken in pieces this all sounds great, but together it never adds up to more than the sum of its parts, and more importantly never quite goes anywhere. Even the bridge, which at least introduces a new vocal hook that carries through to the end, can’t disrupt the stolid plod of the beat. The result is a song that burns like a fuse waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, and somehow never setting off the explosion it’s meant to.
[6]

Alfred Soto: A slow crawl through Alison Goldfrapp’s lust, made slower by electronics at least ten years old. 
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Back to electro from the wasteland of Brit-folk, but not much less boring. It’s like they’re being influenced by their own records from a decade ago, only they stopped going out and just listen to music on the couch now.
[4]

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Sage the Gemini – Now & Later

“Now & Laters” are good; I just wish they were a little chewier.


[Video][Website]
[6.43]

Katie Gill: As a Taurus, I’m naturally prone to excesses like good food. So it only makes sense that I’d love a song which deftly plays with the mixed images of sweetness. Sage the Gemini compares the sweetness of a relationship to the sweetness of candy in a verse that’s simultaneously witty and down to earth. That backing is a LITTLE confusing (was it played on a cheap recorder?) but I can overlook that with just how comfy and, well, sweet the overall song is.
[7]

Lilly Gray: Glad the whistle from “Wiggle” is still getting work! I’m really into the grab-bag fun of this song, which cribs from all top 40 Flo-rida and Jason Derulo hits of the past five years to make a pretty appealing stack of dumb toots, accordion riffs and shakes, as varied and sugary as the 31 flavors he references in-song. If any part is too grating or boring, it switches to another trick; I feel like I’m caught in a fixed-shot video tracking through endless brightly colored sets, narrated by the “pay attention to my hands, my hands, look at my hands” magician patter of Sage, every line light and fast. And that damn whistle lingers, man. 
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: From inherently viral to appallingly sterile, Sage The Gemini’s relatively silent 2015-16 has been an absolute travesty after making such a solid pop-rap album as Remember Me. OK, maybe “Guantanamera” and “Good Thing” were bad and antithetical to Sage’s brand of party rap that got him this far, but after standing out as one of the best rappers in America from 2012 to 2014 that only teens were bumping, he deserved better than to become a flash in the pan. “Now & Later” is him doubling down in the “G.D.F.R.” direction, with a record that definitely reads on the Flo Rida lane via Jason Derulo type antics. Given how FANTASTIC a producer Sage is, hearing him goof along on this cuckoo clock clutter is robbery, and his punchlines have dulled somewhat, but his flows are still impeccable and it’s a step in the right direction for giving him the future successes he deserves.
[6]

Will Adams: I feel like I just witnessed a live “upgrade” meme on Flo Rida.
[8]

Scott Mildenhall: “Only one Flo and one Rida” always was a bold claim. That’s not to dismiss Sage the Gemini though, because it’s not like the original ever got Arabic into a Western hit single (even if Pitbull did), nor was as able to distract himself from his whistle. Perhaps it would be a good thing if “G.D.F.R.” proved to be the passing of the unexceptional pop rap torch.
[6]

Ryo Miyauchi: On one hand, I’m sure Sage the Gemini has about a dozen more of where this candy-themed single came from. Other Bay Area folks that deal in this circuit also upload similar level of pop rap on Soundcloud every other week. Though, I don’t ask for much from this guy but a fun, flirty bop to begin with.
[5]

Alfred Soto: The production’s the star: tijuano accordion, bass runs, party chants at low volume, whistles out of a Tom Ze record. Sage isn’t too bad either, cocking his eyebrow while chanting ridiculous sexxytalk.
[7]

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Yasutaka Nakata ft. Charli XCX & Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Crazy Crazy

We’re fairly “crazy crazy” about everyone involved in this, but TOGETHER isn’t quite the same story.


[Video][Website]
[5.91]

Will Adams: An important aspect of Nakata’s work is precision. Every piece of his compositions sounds purposefully placed and manicured to maximize its potential, and “Crazy Crazy” is full of examples of this. The AutoTuning on Charli’s voice turns her runs into right angles, snare fills fit neatly between sections, and the post-chorus sequencing creates in-song level-ups. The genius of Nakata is pairing these polygonal productions with infectious pop songs. The chorus is a wonder, recapturing the heart bursts of “Boom Clap” with even more technicolor, and as such, it’s Charli’s best song in years.
[9]

Ryo Miyauchi: Charli’s intuitive hooks make a fine match with the whimsy of Yasutaka Nakata, a songwriter not at all new to playful, often nonsensical choruses. The happy-go-lucky boot-up noises also make me miss the producer’s older creations. Oh yeah, and there’s also Kyary, but it’s hard to notice with her uttering no more than five words. Given the mutual love they each have for their works, there could’ve been a better sense of dialogue.
[6]

Crystal Leww: At this point, I’ve accepted that Charli XCX is a top five curator in music right now, and that even if the immediate reaction is not joy, I will grow to like just about everything she does. Luckily, “Crazy Crazy” is pretty great on initial listen, with Yasutaka Nakata providing a pretty uptempo backdrop for the euphoric shouts of Charli XCX and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. “Crazy Crazy” sounds like the kind of spring fling to look forward to at the end of the winter. 
[7]

Iain Mew: I feared Charli XCX coming off a bit too knowing to really suit a Pamyu Pamyu Revolution-style toybox banger, but no, turns out she can bring the right kind of sunshine energy. If Nakata’s production isn’t up there with his most anything-goes exciting, Charli’s performance provides some of that essence instead, and the synth bubbling in the chorus is an intricate delight. The main thing bringing “Crazy Crazy” down (apart from the video) is what happens to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu on it. I can understanding doing anything to get her on a better 2017 song than the limp EDM moves of “Harajuku Iyahoi,” but her minimal presence and the way that dual vocals morph into Charli mid-line give the whole thing a sad underlying feel of Kyary being muscled out of her own song.
[6]

Alfred Soto: The synth bubbles are delights in themselves, complementing the bubbleheaded lyrics. Still, that’s a lot of talent put in the service of ephemerality. 
[6]

Jessica Doyle: There’s a whisper of something inviting and sparkly in the chorus, but that’s preceded by lyrics so aggressively banal as to come off as misanthropic. I feel like a sucker even trying to identify something worth listening for.
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: Charli XCX’s terrible PC Music tangent seems even worse in retrospect, now that it looks worryingly like it might be her idea.
[3]

Jonathan Bradley: Charli XCX’s cynicism wasn’t created by PC Music, but it is exemplified by it. Her lazy and pouting input on “Crazy Crazy” seems pitched as deliberate mockery of Kyary’s more sympathetic reading — and even if it is not, she proves herself unable to give herself over to the chaotic joy of the production. Nakata deserves exposure in Eigo markets, but not via guest stars who treat him as accoutrement.
[4]

Maxwell Cavaseno: How is Yasutaka Nakata and his cohort Kyary Pamyu Pamyu always so seemingly lost in translation? When Perfume or Kyary occasionally leak into America, yes, among music nerds, it’s because of fascination with their ultra-vivid form of pop. But whenever they filter out to the general public, it’s always through that ‘wacky Japan’ lens that frustratingly undermines the work. Charli’s eternal career inconsistency, forever caterwauling from pose to pose in desperate desire to find the ones that work: rock-edged alt-pop star, ethereal princess, super wink-twitch cyborg glitch cynicism… The only consistent thread is she cites Hannah Diamond’s “Pink & Blue”, a reflection of both her friends in the PC Music camp’s supposed fascination with Nakata & Kyary and perhaps a linger from her brief dalliances with the Vroom Vroom period but… “Crazy Crazy” instead feels really put-on and sort of sugary, with a lot less effort into giving the song a character and more into being a character. It feels as if the song doesn’t bridge between oddballs of pop and instead is falling victim to the lingering stereotypes of J-Pop in ‘Western Eyes’ (while not a major consideration, the video’s antics don’t necessarily dissuade this impression). It’ll be nothing more than another pit-stop in Charli’s eternal voyage for the thing that works, but it cheats the other parties the chance to get some of the respect outside of their home that their work should have earned.
[4]

Leonel Manzanares: While he’s praised for using layers upon layers of hi-tech sounds in his tracks, the secret to the genius of Yasutaka Nakata is his complex songwriting. You can hear the frantic start-stop rhythms and the super-busy synthwork in countless Asian Pop concepts or in the Soundcloud scene in the West, sure, but only a master architect like him adds structural wonders like the chord progressions in the post-chorus and the bridge.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Perfect, upbeat pop. Made with electronics but not the dreary brand of EDM-pop currently ruling the world, this is all sunshine and danceable and a singalong and I fucking love it and WE NEED MORE OF THIS. 
[9]

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Lil Uzi Vert – You Was Right

Yes. We are right…


[Video][Website]
[4.86]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Pop-rap polymorph Lil Uzi Vert might be presumed to be a bizarre anomaly to the current rap climate: a dandelion of a wilting sing-rapper hailing from Philadelphia, who sounds like an ATLien. The fact is, while he often gets paired with one of his key influences, Young Thug, his spiritual big brother is Kid Cudi. Like Mescudi before him, Uzi’s songs are highly emotive but consist of throwaway raps made to get to the choruses, and usually built off emulation of other rappers styles. “Ps & Qs” is Fetty Wap as if shuffled by Todd Rundgren, “Money Longer” is Chief Keef circa-Almighty So trapped in an EDM swell. As far as “You Was Right,” it’s the Metro Boomin enhancing the dawdling melodies of Zaytoven and turning them into digital melancholia that’d make Boards of Canada proud while Uzi woodsheds late-period Future into teen heartbreak. “Woodshedding” being the essential term here, because it isn’t until the second verse that Uzi really has a verse to offer and his third abandons his original structure to extend the chorus into more scenes of uncomfortable drama. There isn’t a proper song here, per se, which makes “You Was Right” such a surprisingly successful record when you get past how well it can communicate beyond the inconsistency of its sender.
[6]

Crystal Leww: Metro Boomin is right in the middle of his wave of rap radio dominance. Unlike his immediate predecessors DJ Mustard and Mike WiLL, his production style feels more flexible, unconfined by bpm or particular atmospherics. What I notice the most is the drums, which seem like they are made from the same set of samples. As such, he’s managed to avoid rap fan fatigue for the most part, and as long as huge personalities like Lil Uzi Vert manage to keep turning in tracks full of personality, we’ll have more time with Metro Boomin’s wave of rap radio dominance. 
[6]

Anjy Ou: To whom much is given, much is expected. Lil Uzi Vert is squandering what he has here — a fantastic beat by Metro Boomin’, intriguing visuals from Spike Jordan, and all he gives us is about eight IDGAF bars about a woman’s feelings. If he can’t be bothered that much, then neither can I.
[3]

Jonathan Bradley: I don’t know much about Lil Uzi Vert — sorry, I tuned out of rap for a year kinda — but after hearing his verse on “Bad and Boujee,” I expected something more abrasive, more divisive, the way someone like Lil B used to be. “You Was Right,” though, is agreeable and unremarkable, floating and melodic but never distinct. “…I was wrong” is an intriguing hook, but nothing about the rest of the song is interesting enough for me to even want to figure out whether his line about running to the restroom is literally about needing to take a shit.
[5]

Ryo Miyauchi: This isn’t quite Uzi Vert’s “you made it a hot line, I made it a hot song” moment. His hook gives diminishing returns, and by the time he explores the more interesting part of his chorus, it has come a bit too late. But even if it’s too brief, Uzi Vert rapping about relationship drama is always a treat. Maybe someone else will expand his “talk about a broken heart, run into the restroom” line into a proper, narrative-heavy rap.
[6]

Will Adams: Those backing bells kinda sound like Björk’s “Crystalline,” so that’s fun. Uzi’s narrative is interesting for the brief moments it’s around, but I wish it had been used in the service of a fully fleshed out song.
[5]

Alfred Soto: A snapping nothing, a trap without a mouse. Uzi wasn’t the best part of “Bad and Boujee” anyway.
[3]

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Missy Elliott ft. Lamb – I’m Better

Hiiiiiii Missy?


[Video][Website]
[4.89]

Mark Sinker: run come save us missy
[8]

David Sheffieck: As the first Missy we’re getting after another year’s absence, as a demonstration of her versatility, as a reminder that she’s able to adapt to any sound and any flow? It works. The only problem is, she can definitely do better: she excels at setting trends, not following them.
[6]

Ryo Miyauchi: Missy rewrites the old school like no other, but her attempts to join the hot present in “I’m Better” doesn’t produce the same magic. The single’s references — Lamb’s “Started from the Bottom” bit, the 808 Mafia/Kill Bill siren noise, a Scandal nod — fits too squarely with the now, it’s almost faceless without knowing it’s a Missy Elliott production. A suggestion would be to add an ad lib or two to make the percussive flow pop, but that’s pretty standard business too.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: When Missy Elliott is on fire as a rapper, she’s incredibly gifted, at ease in the weirdest of situations. The problem is, few people admit she’s capable of making missteps with the best of them. Here, we’ve got a lame redeux of Nicki Minaj’s “Only” with a swaggerless hook-guy and Missy doing some bad attempt at the Migos triplet flow with some of her most boring punchlines yet. Not for nothing, I get that everyone expects another “Supa Dupa Fly” out of her as proven by the number of abandoned singles leading up to this supposed phantom album but I’d rather hear a “Hot Boyz” or a “Beep Me (911).” Frankly, Missy was never the show-stopping rapper as much as she was a multi-talented artist. To think she’d settle with the most basic interpretations of herself?
[2]

Jonathan Bradley: She’s back, but was anyone asking for Minimalist Elliott? Missy is at her best when she’s at her biggest: we love her for her personality, her brazenness, her elephant noises. It’s not as if she left all that behind — peep her pronunciation of “ve-hicle” — but “I’m Better” is given over too much to 2017 sounds and someone called Lamb (so much Lamb), who elongates his syllables like Drake and encourages Missy to do the same. Neither succeeds in the attempt.
[4]

Katie Gill: A lethargic chorus by Lamb thankfully doesn’t squash Elliott’s rhymes. The minimalist production highlights her effortlessly flow and sheer ability to sell a track just on presence alone. Needless to say, between the trifecta of good songs that are this, “WTF (Where They From)” and “Pep Rally,” Elliott’s firmly established herself back as a talented player in modern hip-hop.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Her pinched, needling timbre intact but her choice in collaborators as shot as Robbie Robertson’s voice, Missy stretches syllables like chewing gum, stares at nice shoes, pretends to get hot over papi chechos — anything to ignore the clod in an ill-fitting shirt pretending he deserves to stand beside her.
[3]

Edward Okulicz: A creeping, sinister production pretty much wasted here — there’s too much of Lamb repeating the same tired hook with the grating “frieeeeeeeeends” that has me reaching for the volume knob. Missy sounds playful in snatches but mostly sounds bored, like she knows she’s funny and brilliant but can’t really be bothered right now. I’d be happy to wait yet another year for a Missy album if this isn’t representative of what’s to be on it.
[4]

Anjy Ou: Missy is a great rapper but spends too much time here subsuming her lyricism under the flow of her juniors just to prove a point. She breaks free of that about two-and-a-half minutes in and the song picks up, but every time Lamb comes in it’s like he’s throwing cold water on Missy’s fuego (that rhymes with “vehicle”). Someone should have buried his invite to this party in the backyard and claimed they lost it. So — not that much better. Sorry.
[5]