When music editor Jason Stives sent out this week’s selection for The Singles Party, there was a collective squeal of joy from the staff. Who doesn’t love themselves some Girl Talk. The guy is an absolute master at mashing up tracks and creating infectiously upbeat and raucous party anthems.
But, would his collaboration with Philly native Freeway hold up to the high standard he’s set?
Nick Porcaro: Girl Talk and Freeway seems like an odd pairing until you dig a bit deeper. The mash-up king displayed an unabashed affinity for hardcore hip-hop on the incredibly illegal albums Feed the Animals and All Day, while the former Roc-A-Fella rapper continues to struggle for relevance ever since his guest spot on Kanye West’s The College Dropout. Maybe an ultra-hip collaborator is just what Freeway needs to reach the next level of rap game notoriety.
Or maybe not. Freeway doesn’t exactly step out of his comfort zone on this track. He’s as snarling as ever, stomping through the gritty, gut-churning production like a zoo elephant finally let out of his cage. Jadakiss shows up for a solid verse, as always. A classic Biggie sample serves as the hook, no surprise. Both rappers alternate between shit-talking and documenting the struggle, how typical. The only real hint of Girl Talk’s genius comes toward the end of the song, starting with a goofy classic rock sample and culminating in a devastating beat change at 3:06. It’s hard to go wrong with pitched-up vocal harmonies over boom-bap beats, and the combination is especially appreciated here.
Everything about “I Can Hear Sweat” is executed with more than a modicum of skill but it’s nothing superior to the synergy Killer Mike and El-P achieved on last year’s Run the Jewels project. The tense guitar stabs, twinkly keyboard lines and twitchy drum beats heard here are all over Run the Jewels, so if you like this single you’ll love tracks such as “DDFH” and “Banana Clipper”.
“I Can Hear Sweat” is business as usual for Girl Talk and Freeway but I’m afraid that’s not enough to warrant a recommendation.
Verdict: One and done.
Jason Stives: While I love his ability to seamlessly weave hundreds of song samples together it’s quite fascinating to see Girl Talk take on an original collaborative effort (although if I’m not mistaken there is a sample in here). With Freeway, the noted producer creates something instantly catchy with a solid beat and some excellent verses to boot. The trouble is the actual riff combined with a repetitive chorus makes the song a bit grating after the second verse. Repetition can be fun but here it’s looped in with the repetition of the actual beats which kind of leads to a stale track after about three or four listens. Having listened to the rest of the Broken Ankles EP this isn’t a constant thing and while I enjoy what is presented here it’s only in fleeting moments. Verdict: One and done
Kelly O’Dowd: GIRL TALK. Because who doesn’t like Girl Talk? And paired with the rapping of Freeway and Jadakiss? FANTASTIC. It does drop n*a a bit too much for my taste, but otherwise, everything flows wonderfully. It’s one of those windows down, slowly driving down the boulevard, scaring the old ladies with the bass line and words. Personally, it’s refreshing to hear something like this, if only because I don’t normally come across this type of music in my daily travels. I guess that means I gotta go looking for it. Verdict: Add to Playlist
Al Mannarino: Anytime that there is a new song featuring a talented electronic artist and an accomplished hip-hop star, I have to take notice. “I Can Hear the Sweat” by Girl Talk & Freeway is a clear example of why the two genres work so well together. Girl Talk’s bombastic beats paired with Freeway no holds bard style of rap is what makes this song work. The only thing I don’t like about the song is the addition of Jadakiss. His verse slows down the otherwise fast paced song. The highlights of this track is how immediate it starts and how well Girl Talk’s beats blend with the two different rapping styles. Overall it’s a catchy club track and I am excited to listen to the rest of Girl Talk & Freeway’s EP, Broken Ankles. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.
Bill Bodkin: Color me disappointed. “I Can Hear Sweat” is a solid song, but when you hear that Girl Talk is involved you expect more. You expect something hyper-creative, weird, eclectic and infectious. Instead, you get, decent. I related this to when a director who has such a definitive style and they go out direct a movie that has no evidence that this is their film, like The Coen Brothers’ True Grit or Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. If you had told me any other DJ in the world had produced the beats here I would’ve believed you, because there’s no chance in hell I would’ve assumed this was Girl Talk. As for the vocals, Freeway’s solid and Jadakiss is Jadakiss, you get exactly what you expect out of him. Overall, a decent hip-hop track, but an overall disappoint for fans of the exciting mash-up maestro. Verdict: One and done.
Final Verdict: This was a close call, but the ‘nays’ have it. The disappointment of Girl Talk’s contribution to the song dampened a lot of spirits. We can’t recommend this.