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Keldamuzik and Hylan Starr “Can’t Keep Up”

Collaborations are everything in hip-hop, and in the new single from Keldamuzik and Hylan Starr, “Can’t Keep Up,” we witness the energy of two powerful players combust in real time with some incredibly melodic results. While focused primarily on the mean game of Keldamuzik, Hylan Starr’s hook in this single is definitely an amazing accentuation to what was already a really meaty piece of material. Coupled with a sly lyric video, “Can’t Keep Up” might not teach us anything new about its stars, but it undisputedly elevates their shared profile this autumn to a level mainstream audiences should find accessible. 


This groove has a strong R&B stylization, but the verse are slow-churned rap as imagined from a purely retro perspective. I’m hesitant to call “Can’t Keep Up” a total throwback because of its modern sway – a hallmark of an increasingly melodic strain of indie hip-hop growing in the American underground right now – but at the same time it would seem a little redundant to ignore the influences it boasts with pride. Keldamuzik is definitely acknowledging where she’s been with the compositional pillars of this release, but not going so far as to recycle any of the cosmetics that inspired her career early on.  

We get a great balance between the lyrical execution and the urgency of the beat, and truthfully I think “Can’t Keep Up” is made all the more exciting through the stylistic contradictions it spotlights in its chorus. Hylan Starr cuts through with a harmony in this release that instantly washes the instrumentation in a warmth Keldamuzik would seemingly just as soon stamp out with her fierce demeanor, and when you mix ice and raw heat so tightly together in a single, you wind up with some chemistry that is second to none (as evidenced in this very song). 

Melodically speaking, I think there isn’t much room for debating whether or not this latest cut is among the crème de la crème of Keldamuzik’s discography so far, as the instrumental fabric and the vocal work is frequently so seamlessly bound that it’s hard to tell where the venom of a lyric ends and the sting of the sonic texture begins. Rather than trying to muddy up the backdrop in favor of turning all the attention to the verse, everything here is designed to flow together in singular tidal wave of emotion and evocative tonality, as would perhaps be more common in an atmospheric trap song, ambient music or even post-rock. 


If you haven’t heard it already, I sincerely recommend checking out Keldamuzik and Hylan Starr’s new single/video combo in “Can’t Keep Up” on the next possible occasion. This is a release that absolutely lives up to the critical hype it’s been garnering since first hitting airwaves about a month and a half ago, and while there’s no telling when we’ll have universal club access once more, its beats could be just the tonic some restless dancers need to get through the lonesome and cold month of November. 

Mindy McCall 



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