• Marty Gross

'The Spins' Last Week in Music: "Slugger" - Kevin Abstract

(Question Everything, Inc./RCA Records)

Last Friday, Kevin Abstract dropped "SLUGGER," his first solo single in two years after his critically-acclaimed sophomore album ARIZONA BABY. The single is accompanied by a simplistically vivid music video and guest appearances by $not and Slowthai. In the first edition of "Last Week in Music," Finn Askin and Marty Gross, hosts of music podcast 'The Spins,' discuss "SLUGGER" and what makes Abstract a great musician.

First Release since ARIZONA BABY

Finn: The new release resonated with me on the same level as BROCKHAMPTON’s newest album, Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine. Everything felt a little too scattered. It wasn’t the usual Kevin Abstract delving deep into the struggles surrounding his sexuality, race, and upbringing. Instead, he preached his lyrics as if he were an industry plug speaking upon being harder than your average homie. This felt like the least relatable track possible from a rapper who used to preach that he was your average American Boyfriend. I fully expect the rest of this album to destroy my expectations, solely off of how much I adore his two other full-length releases.

Marty: I have to say, even though I might not be the biggest Kevin Abstract fan, “Slugger” most definitely lived up to the hype. The instrumental is a typical BROCKHAMPTON beat and Kevin does what he usually does with those beats. The screechy horns and drum patterns are distorted just enough to create a chaotic atmosphere while still keeping the ship steady. I would say, we are starting off on the right foot and another solo masterpiece could be arriving soon.

Music Video

Finn: The Kevin Abstract-directed music video seemed as if it were a full-fledged advertisement for his own brand, Video Store. The brand dropped a new collection titled “Warhead” on the same day as the release. While I enjoyed the laundromat-based-impromptu-dance-party, all I could pay attention to was the fact that everyone was wearing different Abstract-branded-and-designed merchandise. Sure, it was incredibly clean merch, but I felt a separate lookbook would’ve sufficed for the drop, rather than trying to force it throughout the new song. The music video was much more of a deterrent than an incentive to continue watching/listening.

Marty: Standing at one minute and forty-two seconds, I didn’t think this music video would really leave an impact on me. There aren’t any crazy visual effects or animations. There aren't any insane sights that capture the eye. Hell, Slowthai and $not aren’t even in it. But somehow, this self-directed music video still had me in awe. The low-shot camera angles, the strobe lights, the 2000s-esque clothing, and super close-ups just have me feeling some type of way. The simplicity of it reminds me of a Rob Dyrdek skate video and brings me amazing nostalgia.

Who had the better feature: $not or Slowthai?

Finn: I think it's impossible to ignore the gritty voice of the British villain, Slowthai. The 26-year-old, who is five months removed from his sophomore album, TYRON, has one of the most encapsulating and versatile voices in the game. Bold bass hits, watery synths, and classic BROCKHAMPTON-esque horns allow for Slowthai to thrive. The strength he ponders within the first few bars is understood as quickly as he hits the climax of his verse as he scratches the line, “I got 99 questions, ‘Why you all bitches?’” $not’s verse seemed to be very forced and overall irrelevant to the basis of the song. It felt like he was just mapping out his encounters with women, money, and weed. All power to the young talent — I have heavily enjoyed what I’ve heard in the past — this was just a miss.

Marty: I'm going to have to go in the opposite direction of my co-star and say that I really do enjoy $not’s verse more! Even though I think Kevin Abstract has the best verse/chorus on the entire song, $not’s typical laid-back rhetoric and prominent voice go to show that he can kill any song no matter the instrumental. I have seen him explode on bass-riddled and loud instrumentals, but this shows that he can do it on tamer ones, as well.