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“No Friends” by Justin Love

There isn’t much Justin Love will hold back in telling a good story in his music, and if you needed some evidence supporting this, you won’t have to look much further than his new material to find it. In his most recent output, we find a star single in “No Friends” seemingly no different than the other compositions it sits with in this modern hip-hop age – at first; however, if you listen a bit closer, you’ll likely agree with me when I say it’s the brightest track to behold here. “No Friends” isn’t just pop magic incarnate – it’s a message about 2023 many need to hear right now.  

The instrumental arrangement in this song isn’t overthought on any front, but instead, a simple document that translates to sophistication only through the actions of players bringing it to life. I get the feeling there wasn’t a lot of rehearsing ahead of recording the final product for any of the tracks coming out of this corner of the underground at the moment, but this is especially true of “No Friends;” it’s just so loose and focused in the way a good live performance is for me to think any differently.  

This single features a duel between the melodic and physical parts that wind up being just as exciting a feature as anything the vocal can muster does, and if you know anything about Justin Love’s voice, you know just how big a deal this is. He doesn’t flinch at the rising tide of instrumental wonderment coming up behind him on either side of the chorus – he’s ready to be absorbed by the ocean-sized waves just as the audience will be, extending his relationship with the listener beyond what is normally asked of a modern rapper inside of a recording studio’s walls.  

In “No Friends,” catharsis is never limited to the hook but rather made to ebb and flow with the collision of the beat and the verses around every twist in the track. This way, the entirety of the single produces a freeing feeling typically found only in the fever pitch of a performance, which I suppose is the only true element of indulgence you’re going to locate in the grander scheme of things here. It’s a positive excess if I’ve ever heard one before, and I doubt I’ll be the only critic to say so.  

To say that I expect a lot out of Justin Love’s output at this point in his career is too big an understatement for me to make and retain authenticity, but that said I think he brings home another big win in “No Friends” simply too great to be ignored. Love has plenty on his plate – maintaining a profile in the past year alone is intimidating to imagine by itself – but if you ask me, he’s never sounded as passionate about the musical aspect of his life as he does here and now. It’s easy to be a fan of his work, and once you hear this song, I think you’re going to agree with me.  

Mindy McCall



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