Pharrell Williams: “Cash In Cash Out” [ft. 21 Savage and Tyler, the Creator] Track Review

We all know how Pharrell’s average beat starts at this point, but no one knows where each beat goes from his signature four count. It’s a testament to his ear that the producer continues to create the strangest and most whimsical music for the titans of rap, R&B and pop three decades into his career. Whether on his own or as one half of the Neptunes with Chad Hugo, he has become an institution built on subverting expectations; sometimes it goes great (“I Know” by Jay-Z, “Gust of Wind” from his 2014 solo album GIRL), sometimes minimalist (“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, “Sweet Life” by Frank Ocean), but always recognizable.

For his latest single “Cash In Cash Out,” Pharrell takes the simplified route: The beat is nothing more than airtight drums, a busting 808, and screeching vocals, one of his skeletalest productions since Pusha T’s “Brambelton.” anus it’s almost dry. But the pace is a perfect match for 21 Savage and Tyler, the Creator, who approach it from opposite ends. 21 commits to the march, rapping about getting paid a million dollars just to show up and distorting a reference to the stoner comedy classic How high in a cold gun metaphor. Meanwhile, Tyler, always up for the chance to rap over his idol’s beats, hopscotches his pockets, still in call me if you get lost flex mode. From the beat to the guest couple, “Cash In Cash Out” is dark yet playful, continuing Pharrell’s streak of finding beauty in opposites.

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