Monday, March 31, 2014

"It's On Again" ft. Kendrick Lamar- Alicia Keys

If there's a key to the city for soundtrack features, go ahead and hand it to Kendrick Lamar for 2014. In the same month he laid waste to the psychedelic wonderland of Tame Impala's "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" he's returned to decimate the Pharrell produced, Alicia Keys anchored "It's On Again" with the brute force of the Rhino. While the doleful, twinkling keys demand a degree of reverence, Lamar has none to offer. He's snarling before the first note can ring out, the veins in his head bulging as he offers a song "for the warrior, for you and I." He name checks "David and Goliath" and while his runaway success puts him far closer to the Philistine at this point, his intensity befits the scrappy underdog. He's willing to run through the flames because he can see what's waiting on the side. He'll land on his dreams, no matter how much exertion or exhaustion it takes.

For her part, Alicia Keys doesn't appear to be exerting herself at all. She croons over Pharrell's slowly propulsive dance beat with ease. Her breathless exhortations to "go on" disappear almost as soon as they are said, fading into a billowy cloud of silky disco strings and blooping keyboards. In that way Keys acts as the yin to Lamar's yang; a cold passivity to a red-hot ferociousness. She's willing to "sacrifice my ego" because she has no need for such inanities. She'll go it alone as a shadow in the middle of the night. Keys is no less of a warrior than Lamar, she's just far more reserved about her profession.

"It's On Again" is available through iTunes tomorrow.

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