This is hilarious. Nelly has always experimented with mixing different genres into his-hop, but over the last few years, as his pop success has faded, he’s started to sound desperate. On “Hey Porsche” he dredges up the old idea of comparing a car to a woman (or vice-versa) mixes in some touches of EDM, tosses a “nigga” or two into the lyric to maintain his cred, and, most inexplicably, copies the riff from “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. And after all that effort, what does he end up with? A hip-hop version of Train. Maybe he should try something else.
AfroJack featuring Chris Brown—“As Your Friend”
Though it rarely gets mentioned, for obvious reasons, Chris Brown has done as much, if not more, to bring EDM into hip-hop as anybody. Whatever his other flaws, musical or personal, he knows how to pick beats. His biggest problem is that he often doesn’t know what to do with them, penning cliche lyrics around banal, or non-existent, melody lines. On “As Your Friend”, though there still isn’t much of a tune, the lyrics are better, and Brown intentionally plays down as low as he can. He also manages to avoids the defiant self-pity that makes him so easy to hate. He sounds resigned, almost repentant, which is a big change for him. As for the beat, it’s pop on the insane, dubstep side of the EDM spectrum, and far better than anything David Guetta or Calvin Harris have come up with recently. “As Your Friend” isn’t great, by any means, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Emeli Sande—“Next To Me”
Those overpowering drums owe an obvious debt to Adele, but Sande takes them back to their source, the driving martial rhythms of gospel (you didn’t think “Next To Me” was about a lover, did you?). Also like Adele, Sande has the ability to get loud without ever sounding shrill or losing her emotional connection to the song; she can go places other singers wouldn’t dare. I have some doubts about the lyrics, especially the paraphrase of Kipling at the end, but a record this powerful almost defies criticism.
Eric Church—“Like Jesus Does”
Church is so good at what he does that he almost pulls this off. Though I appreciate his refusal to turn this into a power-ballad, which is what 90% of country singers would have done, it gets stolid by the end, and the lack of rhythmic and melodic variety becomes wearing. His metaphors don’t always gel, either. Is a Waylon Jennings song more sinful if it’s on vinyl as opposed to CD or MP3? How would that work, exactly? Church must think it means something, because he repeats it at the end, but all I get from it is that it’s a way of establishing his country traditionalist bona fides without dragging his truck into the song. This is a good thing, but it doesn’t quite work.
Future featuring Lil Wayne—“Karate Chop (Remix)”
It’s a feeling that’s been coming over me for the last couple of months, and now it’s taken an unshakable hold, no matter how I try to ignore it: I dread the idea of listening to Lil Wayne. He has become the worst part of almost every record he appears on (including his own). Here, after being provided a near-perfect lead-in by Future, he half-assedly replicates the flow Future has established, then tosses it aside like something that’s beneath him and proceeds to delivers a few bars of rote misogyny before giving up completely. He’s more than the worst thing on “Karate Chop”; he pretty much ruins it. To compound my despair, last week Kanye West called a radio station to announce that, whatever MTV may say, Wayne is the greatest MC in the game. Which only makes me fear that the two most dominant rappers of the last decade have both lost their minds.