By Reece Jamison
Music, the spell binding phenomena that connects us all. Here, Reece pays that notion no mind as he gives his completely biased and totally arbitrary opinion on music and the culture around us.
This issue, I will be tackling two tracks that have been on repeat since their release, Drake’s “God’s Plan” and Justin Timberlake’s “Say Something (feat. Chris Stapleton).”
“God’s Plan” is the most overt and refined example of Aubrey’s self-indulgence into his ‘Drake’ persona which has come to be associated with success, worldliness, and bravado. The lyrics of the track center around his more common writing themes: his virtue of patience in thought and action, creating and consequently dealing with monumental success and the string of criticism that follows, as well as some personal, cryptic shout-outs to his mother, his recently deceased friend, Fif, and whichever woman he’s currently sleeping with.
Reminiscent of a host of previous Drake tracks such as, “Headlines,” “Weston Road Flows,” and more recently, “Sacrifices (feat. 2 Chainz & Young Thug),” what makes this track work is its instrumental.“40,” his longtime producer and creative partner, commits to another exercise in ‘The Drake sound.’ By which I mean a dark, moody, and melodic palette of sounds accompanied by subtle, yet warm, bass, and tight high hat slinging that will mark Drake’s legacy in hip-hop.
If you have heard a Drake hit in the past, “God’s Plan” is nothing new. For the fans, it is another great jam for the late nights where you may be feeling like the hopeless romantic, the successful schemer, the braggadocious partier, every aspect of the “Drake” persona you have come to love, or for those who may not jive with it, hate.
Justin Timberlake is back and promoting a new album. Having built a superstar career off of high-energy pop tracks, most of which are known as ‘classics’ to my generation, such as “SexyBack,” “Rock Your Body,” and “My Love,” Justin claims that this new project is influenced by his wife, his son, and where he’s from (Memphis, Tennessee). I cannot help but bend my ear for Justin’s proclamation, and be hopeful that this new endeavor will in fact have several cuts, if not the whole of it, that will make me feel right at home, being a Tennessee native myself. I am hoping to catch whiff of some sort of nostalgia-fuelled, acoustic, maybe even dabbling into a folksy sound in order to capture what it is to truly be a Tennessee native.
“Say Something (feat. Chris Stapleton),” is a lead single off of Justin’s new project, “Man of the Woods,” and is at most an honest endeavor, and by saying that, I mean that the two singers in essence, say nothing at all with this track, making their lyric, “sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all,” hold true.
Lyrically, this is a confusing and ultimately boring piece of poetry. Justin and Chris go back and forth singing about feeling an overbearing need to dance, and that is about the extent of the message, especially because every other phrase throughout the song is, “Maybe I’m looking for something I can’t have.” I guess it works well, considering that this is a cookie cutter, four-four meter pop song, but I expected a little more artistry considering how wonderful “The 20/20 Experience” was as a whole.
Sonically, the instrumentation and arrangement is about the only thing this song has going for it. The four chord song hitches upon an atmospheric choir sample accompanied by a cheesy acoustic guitar loop, which sounds as if the producer simply opened up the recording software and selected “bright strings” as an instrument and told Chris Stapleton to start playing. The track is carried on rhythmically by a cheap sounding hand clap that could not sound less ‘real’ than the obscured message they are trying to impress upon you, my fellow listener.
To summarize, this track serves as nothing more than background noise to play at a bonfire or, I guess, as some sort of sentimental message about not being shy, and expressing yourself through dancing (any “Footloose” fans out there)?
Honestly, if the rest of Justin’s album follows this example, I cannot say that he has really changed, or is even endeavoring to pay homage to the musical traditions of cities like Memphis and Nashville, which are both seeping with blues and country sounds in their roots. He would be better served to wait and truly distance himself from his prior work before trying to make a drastic change in his sound. This track serves as a great example of his stagnation in the pop music sphere.