Knaxx: “Like You” Single Review – Mr Topple

UK DJ David Rodigan recently said on his BBC 1xtra show that there are no recognisable producers/labels in Reggae/Dancehall music any more. Enter Tru Ambassador Entertainment to prove him completely wrong.

Like You, released via Tru Ambassador Entertainment, is the first release from producer Week.Day’s forthcoming EP The Xesperience. The track is with up-and-coming Knaxx on vocal duties – and it doesn’t disappoint: showcasing Week.Day’s now recognisable composition and production style perfectly.

The track is ostensibly AfroDancehall in its formation, but it leans more towards the RnB-influenced end of the genre. This has created an almost ‘Afroballad’; much like the Jahmiel x Week.Day collab We Alone (you can read Pauzeradio’s review of that here). But Like You has a slightly faster BPM and more focus on the rhythm, not the melody.

Its bass line is smooth, rich and resonant – but Week.Day has avoided the trap of keeping it on the same rhythmic motif throughout. Instead, it ebbs and flows with the overall arrangement. At points, it runs a dotted semibreve-crotchet pattern; at others the syncopation increases – and listen carefully for some gorgeous glissandos, dotted throughout. Melodically it avoids the tonic of the scale, generally working around the third and fifth. This smart melodic trick creates a sense of momentum and movement, which fits perfectly with the drums.

Their line is interesting and highly complex, drawing on several genres. The synth hi-hats are sparse, tinkering in and out with the occasional Trap buzz roll. Then, Week.Day has made snaps central to Like You. They regularly hit the two and the offbeat after the four – essentially replacing what the snare would normally do on an Afrobeats riddim. Some hi-passed tom-toms rattle across rapid, dotted notation on occasion. And the snare itself refuses to have a fixed pattern. At times, it hits the semiquaver before, and then directly, the third beat, and the final off after this. On other occasions it runs a more drawn-out rhythm, playing parts of that recognisable AfroDancehall broken clave – and it’s this which is the main rhythmic driver of Like You.

One of Week.Day’s signature instruments are strings. Here, he once again uses them to full effect. They lead the broken clave (at its peak, across a ‘oneeeeee-twooo-and-(three)-and-four’) across bowed, staccato (short), dampened and reverbed chords. This bowed arrangement is then embellished, removing elements of the clave across the bridges with the engineering adjusted to make the sound crisper and more high-passed – before some fairly complex runs come in. Then, there’s a separate pizzicato (plucked) and dampened string line too, which runs a countermelody to Knaxx’s main one. These are further complemented by a bottle bell-type synth which also has its own melodic line.

What also stands out about Like You is the variety in the construction. The chorus is memorable but different each time. Week.Day has mixed up the complexity of the arrangement across the verses, also giving the track one stand-out bridge (with its stabbing strings), but also a smoother one. Overall, Like You is detailed and fulsome. Add Knaxx into the mix, and the track is then elevated further.

He’s a quality artist; not least his vocal delivery – which is crystal clear, pitch perfect and with a pleasing timbre. His performance is forthright but still tinged with light and shade, pulling the dB back appropriately. Knaxx’s mashing-up of vowel sounds is delicious, too – for example mixing up ‘life’ into ‘loyfe’ at times. Melodically, he swerves between a straight vocal and a vocal-led singjay, giving a memorable chorus and some interesting work on the verses, soaring across his mid-tenor range well but also knowing when to draw the melodic intricacy back in. But it’s Knaxx’s rhythmic arrangement which is particularly impressive. It works around both dotted and straight rhythms, but he has matched these perfectly with Week.Day’s music. Rapid semiquavers marry with increases in instrumentation; drawn out dotted quaver-to-semiquavers when the arrangement is pared-back. There’s also a brilliant section on the second half of the first verse, where Knaxx moves the dotted rhythms to clash with the beats, creating a driving, Afrobeats-like stuttering vibe. He impresses overall, and it’s good to hear an artist completely tune in to the producer’s musical vision.

Like You is yet more top-quality work from Week.Day. Taking his Dancehall-Afroballad sound up a notch, it is impressively rhythmically complex – and as is always the case, his use of strings is that of a talented composer who has settled into his own unique style. Knaxx is on point, and overall, the track is peak Week.Day: you know it’s him by just listening to it. Take note, Rodigan.