We had to live with this one over the weekend because we didn’t want to get carried away by the hype.
Not to say that we haven’t been waiting for this because teasers and the people involved meant that we would get something interesting, whether good or bad. Luckily for us, this track pretty good.
In terms of vocals, this is right in the sweet spot for Rihanna. While, lately, she has shown increased ability with tracks like Love On The Brain and Higher, she tends to really come into her own when she gets into her sing-songy rap voice. She has a lot more melody in her tone than a lot of rappers that do this and she gives good adlibs that bring color to the track without overwhelming it. Bryson Tiller’s section is a little flatter as he seems to be trying to go for straight rapping but doesn’t quite make the full transition. He is supported by the production somewhat, but he needed some autotune (even if that wouldn’t have matched the rest of the track). Luckily his verse is short.
The production is going to be a sticking point for most people and whether you like it or not is going to depend on whether you heard Maria Maria first. You can almost never go wrong with a Santana sample and Maria Maria is one of the best he had during his popularity resurgence between 1999-2003, but this not a direct sample; someone else is playing the guitar and the new mix sounds…off. It might have to do with the loss of the highlighting effect that came from the mixture of acoustic and electric guitars on the original track. There is also the fact the electric guitar’s notes seems unnaturally truncated at times, making it sound like a synthesizer more than an actual guitar. This doesn’t kill the vibe of the song, but if you’ve heard the original then you just feel like you’ve heard the instrumental done better.
While we don’t see it becoming a classic like its predecessor, it’s a nice summer bop
Khaled’s Grateful, the compilation this track comes from, is available for purchase now.