Great collaborations happen when two talented artists, who’ve already proven they can deliver solo, come together with a singular vision.
Legendary rap group OutKast mastered this in their early work, writing songs that played to both Andre 3K and Big Boi’s strengths without detracting from the other’s contributions. In stark contrast, you have the much-hyped, but ultimately maligned, Quavo and Travis Scott project Huncho Jack, which didn’t allow for either artist to shine because their compromise in styles led to a lethargic album that sounds like it took too many downers. The right balance comes when both artists combine their styles to bring out the best in each other, without losing what makes each of them distinct.
It’s one of the reasons Lil Baby and 42 Dugg’s “We Paid” is such marvel work, with both rappers nailing their timing and keeping the track fresh throughout, blending Baby’s breakneck flow with 42 Dugg’s warbling rapping. Valee and Jeremih’s classic (in my heart) “Womp Womp” is another example, featuring two carefree artists dropping vibrant and funny bars about picking up girls at Walmart and other misadventures with the opposite sex. It evokes a feeling of hearing two friends trade lines during a lunchtime cypher — except the friends actually possess talent.
The secret sauce to each song’s success lies in both duo’s chemistry. 42 Dugg and Lil Baby are friends in real life outside of their working relationship, and you can hear it in the music. I have no idea if Jeremih and Valee are friends outside of the studio, but in the song, they sound like they’re taking part in these escapades side by side. In the case of rising multi-genre sensations glaive and ericdoa, there’s no guessing game to their relationship.
The two have developed a true friendship, evidenced by their interactions on Instagram live streams and posting pictures counting money together. In an interview with Lyrical Lemonade’s Billy Bugara, ericdoa expressed his admiration for glaive. “I love that kid so much. That kid is like family to me, like my own flesh and blood. I am so proud of everything he’s done.”
One listen to their latest collaborative single, “cloak n dagger,” illustrates their connection. Eric mixes his direct and angst-filled crooning with glaive’s natural irony and more earnest approach, fusing the best of each artist like a pop music Gogeta.
The track opens with blaring synths that could soundtrack an episode of Stranger Things, giving way to thumping 808s sped up like they’re experiencing a sugar rush. The fun and bouncy production contrasts with the darker tone indicated in the song’s lyrics, as glaive and ericdoa sing, presumably, about a messy breakup.
It’s a subject both artists have touched on before, but never this cohesively together, and the shared enjoyment they feel while recording shines through. From glaive’s whisper to a yelp utterance of “fuck you,” to ericdoa’s melodic wail of the classic pop trope “oh, ooh oh, ooh, oh,” telling someone to “rot in hell” has never sounded this fun. And the fun comes from the rejection of heartbreak, sounding more like an invigorating experience of self-growth rather than wallowing in the isolating misery.
It brings out the same feelings for me that K. Camp’s “Cut Her Off” did back in 2014. But the key difference between both songs centered around jubilant dismissal is the fortified strength ericdoa and glaive get from each other compared to K Camp’s singular experience. Breakups suck: but they’re a lot more bearable with support from your friends.
The chorus is a surefire crowd-pleaser — singing “fuck you” is a pop song cheat code (Cee Lo Green, Lily Allen) — destined to be screamed in unison whenever live music returns safely. But most impressive (aside from the gorgeous multilayered harmonies) is the seamless blend between glaive and ericdoa; there’s no point where one outshines the other or deviates from the shared vision.
Despite making the song in one day, the duo remains in lockstep, creating a beautiful track forged by the brotherhood of two of the best in a burgeoning music scene. But shame on whoever keeps breaking their hearts, even if it catalyzes good music.