Weeks on Chart: 3
Current Radio Play Frequency: N/A
YouTube Hit Count: 6,228,464 total from all official accounts at time of publication
“F**kin’ Problem,” the song that bumped A$AP Rocky into the mainstream, is still hanging onto the midsection of charts, and sounds more and more like a Linkin Park song with every replay, but today I’d rather talk about Rocky’s would-be other single “Wild for the Night,” which has been struggling to get an airplay foothold for a few weeks now (where is 2 Chainz when you need him?) and which I have just had to resort to playing on repeat in my car. Rocky released a big-budget on-location video for the track earlier this week (see above), which included a bonus Skrillex mini-track at the end and got people talking about the song again for about 24 hours, but its time seems to have already passed, and the video hasn’t even cracked 1 million views on YouTube yet. It’s a reminder that in the chart world “Problem” is still bigger than A$AP Rocky, and with his Vegas days nearly upon us, the Skrillex Factor may no longer be quantifiable, if it ever was.
I’m still a legitimate, unabashed Skrillex fan, and yet I always feel like I’m trolling when I tell people so. If your social/professional circle doesn’t consist of teenage ravers, it’s hard to utter that name, or even the word “dubstep,” without it coming off as a punchline. So maybe I’m projecting, but when news originally broke that A$AP was collaborating with Sonny Moore, and when the line “me and my n—- Skrillex” first entered my ears, I immediately figured we were being played. In retrospect, I was probably overthinking it; Skrillex, especially in this post–Spring Breakers world, has become something of a luxury brand, and we all know Rocky loves his luxury brands. Besides, the Skrillex-y part of the song is too good and earwormy to allow for too much nitpicking about intention. Rocky tends to have great taste in producers; this is merely a continuation of that trend.
The biggest question I have about “Wild for the Night”‘s central couplet: Was “being polite” really ever on the table? The “Bad Boys Club” theme of the song seems a little redundant, especially in the context of the rest of Long Live A$AP, a few tracks after relating to us that time he “told her suck a dick, motorboat her tits.” This is a “List of Crazy Activities” song, which puts it in the same spiritual category as every Ke$ha song, “Last Friday Night,” and, well, “Friday.” Female pop stars spend so much time singing about feelings and fireworks that they have to put effort forth if they want to convince listeners they have a wild side, whereas we more or less taken it for granted with rappers.
But that’s why “Wild for the Night” is fun: Rocky is still enamored with the idea of going nuts with his friends just because he can, without letting himself get bogged down with Drake-like existential angst. One might say “Well, isn’t most mainstream hip-hop about going nuts with your friends?” and I’d say it’s arguable. If you cherry-pick the bigger rap hits of the last year, “Pop That” and “Bandz a Make Her Dance” are about going nuts with strippers, “Clique” is about being serious and scary with your friends, and “Swimming Pools” is about getting alcohol poisoning with strangers. For the most part, fun party rap songs about fun partying have gone the way of fun Batman movies. So there’s a refreshing, self-aware silliness to “Wild for the Night” that makes a line like “drunk and disrespectful, calling women biiiitches” elicit a giggle instead of an eye roll.
It should be noted that this isn’t so much a production job as it is a mash-up with Skrillex’s remix of Birdy Nam Nam’s “Goin’ In,” and by those rules Sting should have gotten a featuring credit on “I’ll Be Missing You.” But there is Moore, throwing up the devil horns from the roof of a Dominican tenement building in the music video, so for all intents and purposes this is at the very least a declaration of allies.
I always figured that the “brostep” moniker with which Skrillex has been branded had to do with the near-total eradication of dubstep’s original reggae influence in his decidedly aggro, chippy beats. (Honestly, “geekstep” seems like a more appropriate portmanteau, but I guess brostep sounds cooler?) “Wild for the Night” (and “Goin’ In”) brings some of that laid-back, dubby sound back into the mix, which makes it one of the most innately rhythmic tracks Moore has ever done. It ramps up the intensity gradually; by the time in the first verse when Rocky switches out of chopped mode and Moore starts test-firing his lasers, you can see the point at which the song is going to go crazy growing larger on the horizon, and you are excited for it. It’s not as dense as some of his solo work — brand-wise, this is a Chanel T-shirt next to “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”‘s couture pantsuit, but if you were to order “A$AP/Skrillex Track” from a catalogue sound unheard and this came in the mail, I doubt you’d be disappointed.
Final verdict: I’m pretty sure it ruled.