It’s only fitting that Snakehips and Anderson .Paak linked up as 2016 finally settles into some form of resting pattern. It was only 12 months ago .Paak’s reinvention from his days as Breezy Lovejoy was in its infancy and Snakehips were another English electro-duo with some hipster blog buzz.
Fast forward to now and nothing is the same. Anderson .Paak was discovered by perennial star-maker Dr. Dre to play a leading role in the legendary producer’s Compton album and backed it up with the well-received R&B/rap hybrid Malibu. Snakehips found magic in ‘All My Friends’, a bleary-eyed midnight club anthem with Chance the Rapper and Tinashe.
For both artists, their surge to prominence has been rapid, non-controversial and impressive. Both .Paak and Snakehips refuse to dominate the press with zany Twitter outbursts or edgy interviews, making them exceptions in the modern rap and dance scene
‘Money on Me’ is a smart track that plays to the strengths of both artists. The whirling electronic hums that peter in the background as the track kicks off sounding in the vein of Snakehip’s previous efforts. The level, airy hum has served as an effective backbone for Snakehips, appearing on both ‘All My Friends’ and ‘Days With You’ and sounds trendy enough to draw in the indie crowd but bubbly enough to be pop hit.
Anderson .Paak is given a lot of room to work in this song and that’s another smart decision. Lacing the verses with his syrup-sweet spoken singing, .Paak is equal part swaggering seducer and coy underdog. A diminutive figure with a sky-scraping voice, Anderson Paak excels at endearing himself to listeners rather than being the asserter. It’s refreshing to hear this tact, charming the subject of the song by trying to selling her on the idea of spending the night with Anderson rather than the standard fare of cocky boasting. Take note, Robin Thicke: it’s always better to ask a girl if she wants it rather than tell her why she wants it.
The song remains at one level and doesn’t accelerate at any stage, but it works for a track of this tone. ‘All My Friends’ was a rumbling rising tide of emotion intended to elicit a reaction, but ‘Money On Me’ treats itself less like an experience and more as the mood setter. As the Americans roll into summer, ‘Money On Me’ should be appearing on more than a few playlist. The track stands out because it fits so many scenes – it would be at home as a building track at a house party fitting just as well as it does on a quiet night in with a significant other.
Though as much as the monotony doesn’t actively hurt ‘Money On Me’, there’s argument to be made that it stops the second half of the song from having much payoff. Anderson .Paak as a rapper is still finding his voice, but we know he’s got a few flows up his sleeve. Listen to his verse on GoldLink’s ‘Unique’ or ‘Miss Right’ from his debut album Venice to catch just some of the ways he can switch up styles even mid-verse.
On this outing, Anderson .Paak blends into the background. His voice isn’t the focus, it’s a complementary part of the track. For the first half, it’s delicately balanced. Smooth and interwoven around a stuttering drum, the monotony is engrossing and entrancing.
However come the second half, the track gets a little stuck in the mud. The beat breaks down and there’s some glitchy backing vocals that the enter. It’s the kind of situation Anderson .Paak makes exciting on Malibu, usually taking the beat breakdown as an opportunity to show off one of his considerable talents. This time, however, he rides the break out and while it’s still an enjoyable listen, it feels like a missed opportunity and a track half-finished.
‘Money On Me’ remains a good listen and a great summer song, even if it trails off into the land of missed opportunity. After the Sinead Harnett collaboration ‘Days With You’ and the hit ‘All My Friends’, Snakehips have proven their consistency with a third solid release. With ‘Money On Me’, Snakehips have proven they can dramatically shift the mood of their songs whilst remaining true to their sound, in the process helping them stand out and retain their ever-growing fanbase.