JAY-Z FT. BEYONCé - PART II (ON THE RUN)
Jay, we made the same face when we learned this was the next single!
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Before anything else, click THIS - yeah, THIS. You back? The artist Raymond Pettibon is most famed for two iconic images: the Black Flag bars and the cover to Sonic Youth’s 1990 album Goo. That album’s hand-drawn cover presents a couple coolly driving away from a vicious crime. A citation rests at the image’s side, a macabre micro-story of sex and murder now worn on the shirts of a million hipsters: “IT WAS ALL WHIRLWIND, HEAT, AND FLASH. WITHIN A WEEK WE KILLED MY PARENTS AND HIT THE ROAD.” Click back on that T-shirt linked above, which places Jayoncé in the getaway car and turns that citation into the “‘03 Bonnie & Clyde” hook. The great “Part II” acts as a sequel to that 2003 mega-middler, but there’s a lot more going on inside of Timbaland’s sleek, alien two-stepper. Beyoncé plays gangster’s moll, wizened enough to know the misdeeds her relationship causes but left starry-eyed by the rush; Jay is all fire and brimstone, manically aligning himself with hotheads like 'Pac and Juvie in the name of protecting his beloved. It ends in blood, flames and a promise to skip Heaven and Hell in the afterlife. This is pure theatre - Jayoncé aren’t really #outchea, obviously. But the concerns are immortally fascinating: romance, adventure, violence. It’s fatalism, but scrubbed up and gleaming until it’s irresistible, like one of those paintings Blue Ivy’s allowed to desecrate. It’s all whirlwind, heat and flash, flash, flash.
David Sheffieck: How many more favors does Beyoncé have to throw Jay before he stops insisting on ruining her songs? It’s admittedly endearing to a point, but even before taking Jay’s contributions into account, this is no “Drunk in Love.”
Anthony Easton: Beyonce’s sections are pleasant and a little anonymous, like Lindsay Buckingham’s last solo album, which didn’t sound as interesting as it sounded expensive. Sadly, Jay-Z’s self aggrandizing bad-guy conversations shred the care that Beyonce is working out here, with too little tension to be really interesting.
Alfred Soto: My students know acknowledging cliches does not exonerate a writer. Marriage to a rapper in decline doesn’t awaken him from creative paralysis either. Serving as the best part of this and “Drunk in Love” doesn’t exonerate Beyonce either.
Crystal Leww: Can you believe this goes on for five minutes?
Brad Shoup: The outlaws in autumn. Bey picks up a gun after putting down the wineglass; Jay slips into something a little more comfortable, like a Juvenile record. The track unwinds with all the sophistication and smoothness of a car elevator bearing its owner to the penthouse.
Scott Mildenhall: Wikipedia says this is “a smooth slow-tempo electro-R&B love ballad which is equipped with a steamy, retro and retro-futuristic groove that creates an acute level of moody texture.” Which sounds amazing. Garbled, but amazing. It sounds like “Climax”. That was a good song. This does not sound like “Climax”. It is not a good song. It’s got an atmosphere, and it maintains that atmosphere for about a decade, with Jay-Z careful not to upset it by actually appearing on it to any worthwhile degree, but if it’s atmosphere you want you go to Russ Abbot. Listen to “Drunk In Love” instead.
Andy Hutchins: Jay is here, barely; he has three verses, one four bars, one 16, one 12. The Timbo beat is also here, barely, orchestral swooning and bleeping electronic squibbles that wrap themselves around the star. But the star is HERE, and no one but Bey could pull all this off. “Part II,” which feels far more like a song from Beyoncé than the late-breaking final single from Magna Carta Holy Zzzzz, survives on Bey’s woozy, intoxicated love; here, she is Bonnie to a largely disinterested Clyde, and the femme fatale could convince anyone of anything. No one else working in pop music has the charisma that drips from Mrs. Knowles-Carter’s melisma on a single “ta-a-a-a-a-aaaa-a-aaaaaaaake.” Long live the queen.
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