Arts and Entertainment

May in Singles

Four reviews of singles released in May. Do they rock or suck?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

  1. Meet the Grahams — Kendrick Lamar

While Kendrick Lamar has released several diss tracks as a part of his ongoing feud with  Drake, “Meet The Grahams” is undeniably his most devastating. Recent tracks such as “Euphoria” and “Like That” rain fire on Drake’s artistry (or lack thereof), but “Meet The Grahams” turns the beef menacingly personal. Kendrick speaks over an Alchemist-produced piano, intermittently spliced with faint screaming that constantly feels like it is intensifying toward an abrupt climax—one that never comes. Kendrick’s calm, gravelly vocals exacerbate the beat’s sinister undertones. Condescendingly, he addresses each of Drake’s family members: his parents Dennis and Sandra, and his son, Adonis, barraging them with heavy accusations pertaining to their famous relative. Kendrick tells Dennis he “raised a horrible [EXPLETIVE] person,” saying Drake “got sex offenders on [EXPLETIVE]-VO that he keep on a monthly allowance / A child should never be compromised and he keepin’ his child around them.” Halfway through the track, Kendrick’s words transition from steady monologue to fast-paced rap as he levels Drake with sex offense allegations. He aggressively asserts, “[Drake] should die so all of these women [whom he’s had relationships with] can live with a purpose,” warning Drake’s onlookers (including basketball players Lebron James and Stephen Curry) to “keep the family away.” After Kendrick bombards Drake with a myriad of other labels including “narcissist,” “misogynist,” and “body-shamer,” he drops one last bombshell, revealing that Drake is hiding another child. Drake has since denied this—in his response, “The Heart Part 6,” he puzzlingly claimed it to be false information purposely leaked to Kendrick’s team. Nevertheless, the damage has been done; “Meet the Grahams” has permanently soiled Drake’s reputation in a manner that “Push Ups” never could match. 

  1. Sexy to Someone — Clairo 

“Sexy to Someone” is the third single for Clairo’s upcoming album Charm. Clairo communicates a heartfelt plea to be desirable in eyes of someone else. She laments her insecurities and longing for validation over bouncy, warm Bedroom pop instrumentals emblematic of her style. In the first verse, she reflects on the idealized depictions of romance in media and contrasts them with her own experiences, singing, “Ask if I’m a movie, no, I didn’t get that part.” Later on in the song, through lyrics like “Sexy is something I see in everything / Honey stickin’ to your hands, sugar on the rim,” Clairo paints a vivid picture of the beauty she perceives all around her, even if she struggles to see it within herself. Despite its charm, the song is repetitive: the chorus is repeated three times in the song’s short length. Nonetheless, “Sexy to Someone” stands out as a poignant exploration of self-worth.

  1. Grippy — Cash Cobain, J. Cole

J. Cole has departed from the Kendrick Lamar-Drake feud, with his most recent release “Grippy,” a disaster of a song that attempts to be a catchy hit while chronicling both his and Cash Cobain’s experiences with women and their genitalia. A smooth, synthy drill beat taken from Cash Cobain’s single “Dunk Contest,” accompanies the raunchy lyrics. J. Cole’s verse, coming from a married man, is incredibly uncomfortable to listen to, with odd lyrics like “she thick in the hips, she a hippie” and rhyming “grippy” with itself four times in a row. Cash Cobain does not fare much better. He reuses the same verse from the original “Dunk Contest,” raising questions about why an entirely new track was created in the first place. Clearly, recent events have sapped J. Cole of his songwriting potential, creating a hollow shell capable of only rhyming about sexual encounters. 

  1. Houdini — Eminem

“Houdini” interpolates lyrics from Eminem’s 2002 single “Without Me” into its intro, as a heavily autotuned version of the iconic “Guess who's back, back again? / Shady's back, tell a friend” repeats itself over an upbeat dance beat. The callback is emblematic of the nostalgia “Houdini” attempts to embody; the single anticipates the upcoming album The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grâce), whose title directly references Eminem’s iconic alter-ego from the early 2000s. Vocally, the track is a success. Eminem’s flow is catchy and assertive, maintaining the over-the-top provocativeness of the Slim Shady persona with intentionally edgy lyrics like “If I was to ask for Megan Thee Stallion if she would collab with me / Would I really have a shot at a feat?” referencing Tory Lanez’s 2022 shooting of Megan Thee Stallion’s foot. However, the track suffers from its instrumentation. The beat’s distractingly excessive bounciness—including the scattered implementation of a sample from Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” over loud, fast-paced drums—endows the track with a sense of clunky poppiness. This quality is a harsh departure from Eminem’s older albums, limiting the track’s nostalgic value. The track’s chorus exacerbates the issue; a sped-up edit of Eminem rapping “and for my last trick” over a vinyl scratch effect is interwoven between chants sampled from “Abracadabra.” The combination is sonically obnoxious, reinforcing the track’s childish lack of gravitas. Though “Houdini” is a powerful exhibition of Eminem’s rapping prowess, its choices in production do not bode well for the future of The Death of Slim Shady’s stylistic direction.