Single Review: Skrillex injects 'Humble' with an overdose of bass

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 6:56pm



Many argue that Skrillex has not had a vital new song in years — since either his chart-topping collaboration with Diplo and Justin Bieber (“Where Are Ü Now”) or his similarly ambitious crossover effort with A$AP Rocky (“Wild For The Night”). Meanwhile, others believe that Skrillex never created vital music in the first place, dismissing his wholly American translations of dubstep and dance music as computerized noise — viral fodder for the iGeneraton, sure, but undeserving of that sacred title: Art.

Both of these groups, of course, are absolutely wrong. Earlier this year, Skrillex released his highest-profile single in years, finally returning to his electro-alias after an oddly long hiatus during which he focused on running his label (OWSLA). That single — “Would You Ever,” a collaboration with go-to pop writer Poo Bear — is a melodious monster that instantly insinuates thoughts of sunshine and palm trees. It’s also one of Skrillex’s most beautiful tracks to date, despite not exactly being representative of his classic sound. Now, as if to compensate for his recent deviation from hardcore, the mega-producer has returned with a speaker-rattling remix of the year’s biggest rap song: Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.”

Perhaps Kendrick never needed to hear his words reworked into an ear-melting bass drop, but besides that point, Skrillex’s “Humble” slaps harder than Batman in that ever-so-perfect comic meme (see below). For an artist whose work is often recognized as noisy, perhaps borderline obnoxious, he makes effortless use of empty space, teasing listeners with a brief accapella lead-in before employing anxious high-keys to initiate his assault. Eventually, jumpy snares and an intense pattern of whopping bass kicks arrive to foreshadow the song’s chorus, but even then, gaps between their kicks somehow leave sufficient room for Kendrick.

Obviously, once the drop arrives, there is no secret who the song’s remixer is: Listening to Skrillex’s “Humble” can feel something like standing next to an airplane that’s mid-takeoff. Yet, his softer, perhaps more musical capabilities are still ever-present in the production, a point that’s driven home by his inclusion of in-character space-synths (think “Cinema” or “All I Ask Of You”) within Kendrick’s second verse. For a moment here, one might wonder if the song is about to slow down.

It does not. Cue another “Shut up, bitch! Be humble,” and another drop. That is the Skrillex we fell in love with in 2010.